Diabetes Blog Week: The Other Half

I’m participating in Diabetes Blog Week.

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Today’s prompt: Just like in the movie, today we’re doing a swap. If you could switch chronic diseases, which one would you choose to deal with instead of diabetes? And while we’re considering other chronic conditions, do you think your participation in the DOC has affected how you treat friends and acquaintances with other medical conditions? (Thanks to Jane of Jane K. Dickinson, RN, PhD, CDE and Bob of T Minus Two for this topic suggestion.)

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type-2-diabetes-3The first thing I thought when I read this was “Does this have to be permanent?” I can’t imagine trading one chronic disease for another. They are all miserable. Trading one misery for another sounds like a rather pointless exercise, to be frank.

However, I then considered what disease I might trade temporarily. Just to see.

I decided I would trade my type 1 diabetes for type 2 diabetes. Spending so much time in the diabetes community has taught me that type 2 diabetes is often perceived as the “easier” of the two types of diabetes and I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I think they both have their own challenges, but I think it would be interesting to see how it really affects someone. I know how type 2 drugs are supposed to work, but what’s it like in practice?

As a budding diabetes educator, I think it’s incredibly important to understand as much as you can about what you’re teaching. I think it’s true that you really can’t understand someone’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. If we spent more time trying to put ourselves in other people’s shoes, we might find ourselves being more sympathetic to what they are going through. It’s so easy to think that we wouldn’t ever get to the place where we’d have type 2 diabetes. That we would never “do this to ourselves.” It’s an incredibly judgmental, yet entirely pervasive perspective, isn’t it?

And honestly, perhaps I would prefer having type 2 diabetes. I’m already overweight with a smidge of insulin resistance. I’m already on insulin, so the progressive nature of type 2 diabetes isn’t that scary. The idea of not having to take so many shots or taking different injectibles is appealing, although I know that type 2 PWDs often have a much stricter diet than type 1PWDs. Of course, the freedom of a type 1 diet might be the very reason I’m overweight with insulin resistance. You can’t escape genetics, and it’s quite likely that I would have developed type 2 diabetes if I didn’t already have type 1 diabetes. I have several family members with it, so the predisposition is definitely there.

Most of us realize that living with another chronic disease is not really going to be any easier or pleasant than type 1 diabetes, and that most of  us would rather stick with what we are familiar with. That being said, most of us recognize that there are differences between the two forms of diabetes and I think that these differences often create a divide. I think more often than not, there is a certain amount of envy of the other half, whether it’s because there’s a lack of stigma for type 1 diabetes or because there are more mild blood sugar fluctuations in type 2 diabetes. I think if we could truly understand what each form of diabetes experiences, those barriers would drop, we would be kinder and more understanding, and we could truly be a united community of people with diabetes.

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