Two Conditions By The Same Name Are Not Created Equal…

You know, I’ve often written about the things I don’t like being said to me or assumed about me, in relation to my Diabetes. I think this is a common issue for most folks; everyone has SOMETHING they don’t like to hear about their specific health condition, lifestyle, choices, etc… But one of the most common misconceptions people have about Diabetes is the difference Type-1 and Type-2 Diabetes. There are a number of other “sub-types,” which I covered quite a while back in my post Everyone Has a Type… but Type-1 and Type-2 are the most common and the most “well-known.” I have that in quotations because it’s amazing how little the general population actually KNOWS about Diabetes.

Every once in a while, I write a fresh post to explain the generalized difference between Type-1 and Type-2. The population at large seem to confuse and even combine the two on occasion, and the questions and “suggestions” I sometimes get from people can border on the ridiculous and dangerous. I once had a guy who claimed to be some sort of holistic healer, who claimed that he could heal my Diabetes by having me sustain myself on a diet of nothing but cruciferous greens and no insulin. Hmm, sounds FASCINATING but I wanna live…

To give you the general difference so that this post doesn’t wind up being a mile long like they usually are, Type-1 Diabetes is a condition known as “insulin-dependent” or “juvenile” Diabetes (although I haven’t heard it referred to as that last one in a long time). It happens when a person’s own immune system attacks the body’s insulin-producing beta cells, leading to the required insulin injections. Although some Type-1’s will continue to produce insulin in small amounts, eventually the pancreas stops producing insulin altogether. There is NO cure (yet), only treatment. It’s a lifelong condition and usually takes hold early in life due to its nature, although some people are diagnosed much later (my father was diagnosed as Type-1 in his 50’s).

Type-2 Diabetes is a much different creature. It usually has to do with your body’s ability to respond to insulin the way it should. It usually has to do with the body’s insulin sensitivity, which is important to remember since most people attribute the condition to obesity (even if that’s only a possible factor and not a definite one). Perhaps the pancreas doesn’t produce the amount of insulin required or the body simply doesn’t respond to it appropriately. That’s the gist of Type-2. It can be treated in a number of different ways, including diet, exercise, oral medication and in some cases, insulin injections as well. Although there is no cure for Type-2 Diabetes, its effects can be reversed through proper diet and exercise so that oral medications are no longer necessary. Type-2’s CAN potentially progress to become Type-1.

It can be frustrating when someone offers the “miracle cure” they saw an ad for on FaceBook or tells you to “just eat this or that” in order to cure the condition. The take home lesson here is that there is currently NO cure for Diabetes. It’s a dark passenger that stays with you for life. And if someone tells you they have Diabetes, don’t be shy to ask what type they have. Most of us don’t object to reasonable questions and you may learn a thing or two that will prevent putting your foot in your mouth. ☯

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I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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