We are fighting with ourselves

type 1 vs type 2 war

We are at war, people!  Allow me to explain…

Earlier this week, Sara wrote a post on her blog Moments of Wonderful about a man with Type 2 diabetes that she had a conversation with and the shame that he associated with moving toward insulin-therapy in his diabetes management.

If you don’t read Sara’s blog, you should start.  She is living with type 1, and her posts vary between stories of living with diabetes and news about industry.  And like most of her posts, in the one mentioned above she did a really great job of explaining her feelings without also commanding that everyone reading agree with her. The “P.S.” from her post kind of wraps things up nicely:

I don’t think insulin = failure is an issue just for people with type 2 diabetes. I know I have been in situations where it is so tempting to compare basal rates or total daily doses with other people with type 1 when really our insulin amounts have very little to do with each other.

After reading her post on Tuesday I thought, “Yeah…you’re right Sara!  Good post.”  I walked away from my computer and went on with life.  When I returned to the Interweb, a civil war had broken out!  The war was started when the JDRF posted a link to Sara’s post.

The comments on this Facebook link were varied, but the majority of them were from people with type 1 diabetes, or with children that have type 1 diabetes and the general comment was something like, “We did nothing to deserve this like THOSE people.”

It’s ironic that Sara’s post was born from a place of acceptance and understanding and brought about more fingerpointing and misunderstanding.  I feel strongly that no person living with diabetes is responsible for having this condition.  Read that last sentence again, then stick a fork in me.

I know that many people agree with Sara and I.  Many people feel that this fight is counterproductive.  And many people feel that we need to move past this. Stick forks in all of us.

As people pointed out when commenting, type 1 and type 2 diabetes are not exactly the same, but as demonstrated by Sara explaining that all of us have different basal rates, her type 1 and my type 1 are also not exactly the same. This stuff is tricky.  It’s confusing.  And we are better off if we can all lean on one another…regardless of the number in our label.

This long civil war we’ve been fighting reminded me of a Diabetes Secret from a couple of weeks ago from a tired soldier:

It’s really time to stop fighting this war with ourselves, because at the end of it the only people that lose are people in our own army.  Allow me to quote from one of the army generals (and full-disclosure he also signs my paychecks) Manny Hernandez on the topic:

Back in the 80′s, people who were HIV/AIDS positive and negative joined together, because the stigma was affecting all of them. I recommend that everyone touched by diabetes watches the documentary “How To Survive a Plague“, so we can all get a sense of the unique challenges that this community faced and how they overcame them.

You may say: “HIV/AIDS is so different from diabetes. Diabetes is not contagious. There’s no point in comparing ourselves.” I would argue that a majority of people with diabetes live in the DIABETES CLOSET, and because of this, WE as a diabetes community, are in the DIABETES CAVE… we’re not being seen enough, all types of diabetes are not getting enough exposure, visibility, and deserved attention.

So I call a cease fire.  Everyone put away your weapons.  All is forgiven…let’s start healing.

“To a mankind that recognizes the equality of man everywhere, every war becomes a civil war.”
– Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy


20 thoughts on “We are fighting with ourselves

  1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! As a person with Type 2, I often feel not diabetic enough when discussions go this way. I did nothing to deserve my diagnosis. Nothing! Your post brought me to tears. We need to stop fighting each other and put our energy instead toward finding a cure for *all* types of diabetes!

  2. Beautifully stated. I plan to share this with my health occupations students. I find my junior and senior HS students struggle to understand this thanks to the shamed stereotype perpetuated by media. They Elk relate to this blog post quite well!

  3. While I’m saddened by how “insulted” some of the mothers are that JDRF DARED to share a post relating to Type 2, I am so thankful for your post. As a person with Type 2 I often find myself either boiling mad or completely depressed and ashamed when I realize these comments are about me and my community. Comments such as these, from mothers no less, sometimes make me wish I had never gone public in the first place. But then I think, that would be one less voice out there for us.

    I hope many people read this and realize that it doesn’t have to be like this. We can advocate for each other, together.


  4. I wholeheartedly agree. I really put the blame for this on all those hideous prevention messages that have been spewed out by diabetes & public health organisations for so long. Frankly, type 1s didn’t do that but we have tried to shield ourselves from the fallout and yes, often our anger has been misdirected at the victims rather than the perpetrators.

    Whilst I strongly believe the differences between type 1 and type 2 need to be understood by the medical profession (seriously, adults with type 1 are often put in serious harm because HCPs think they’re type 2 and don’t realise they we die without insulin) there is no need to battle amongst ourselves. I blogged about this a few months ago,


  5. Excellent post. I’ve got a post in my drafts over this exact thing. I was reading the comments on that post and it was so frustrating. It’s like that people didn’t even read Sara’s blog!
    My husband was misdiagnosed as a type 2 for several years before being correctly diagnosed as type 1. What difference did it make? First, he started feeling better immediately with the correct treatment (insulin rather than pills). Second, people quit telling him to lose weight and get more exercise to “get control.” The judgement he felt during the time he was thought to be type 2 was unbelievable and such a beat down. We have GOT to stop blaming and judging. It’s really counterproductive.
    Again, great post!

  6. When my Sugar of a child was diagnosed, the first person who rallied to my side was a T2. I have a close friend who’s father is a T2 and there is a really good chance he will be too. Both of them did not or has not ask for this it just runs in the family. This WAR needs to be redirected. All sides need to be rallied and focus our attention towards the masses, the corporations, the government and all those who are just plain ignorant. Squeaky Wheel always gets oiled…Always.

  7. This is excellent. I admit that I’ve stepped away from many forums, well, because I can’t deal with the vitriol of folks who hate me for having type 2 diabetes, and want to punish me. It came to a point where it wasn’t healthy for the mindset I have to try to cultivate in order to keep managing my health, and committing to a changed life. I admit that I don’t feel welcomed in the DOC as a whole, because of this, and have sort of forged my own path on my own… I admit it has colored my conversations with many people, where I have been more than a little unkind myself. I’m not proud of it… but this is why.

  8. Mike, thanks for telling it like it is. I’m glad I never saw the Facebook comments. This goes without saying (I hope), but there’s no point in bashing people who, frankly, are as much in need of understanding and support as we are. Plus, it keeps us from more important tasks.

  9. Very well stated. If we can get our act together and get together both type 1 and type 2, we can start educating the “public” . No one should feel ashamed. Thank you.

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  13. To some extent, this is a perspective that is, as the UK band “James” sang back in 1992 (see the video at http://youtu.be/QxM42rG0a08 if this is too old for anyone to remember) “Born of Frustration”. But there is a temptation for otherwise well-meaning people to vent this in ways that are both insensitive and don’t help anyone.

    As a type 1 for 38 years, I’ve seen and done all of this crap for more of my life than I wish to remember. I was even in the camp of blaming the victim of type 2 at one point of my own life with diabetes. In the end, although the healthcare profession would like us to be united, there are some genuine differences that makes that less likely, but we have certain similarities that we can all agree on. Name-calling and blaming people doesn’t help anyone’s cause. I get sick of explaining the differences between the two and that’s not my responsibility, but when someone starts telling me about how her mother had great luck on some new type 2 diabetes med, I politely say, that’s great for her, but I have type 1 diabetes which is an autoimmune disease, so that’s not a treatment I can even consider, only insulin is approved to treat type 1. That usually shuts people’s rambling about stuff they don’t understand up, and we can continue an otherwise useful conversation about some other matter.

    From my perspective, I’d like the broader diabetes community, including far too many parents who have little kids with type 1, to avoid name-calling and blame and try empathy for a change. It goes a long way towards bridging the proverbial gap that divides everyone.

  14. speaking as a wife to my type 2 husband….
    no the two types are not alike at all, BUT….
    the increasing illness of the population…
    the higher and higher number of type 2 diabetics, as well as the increasing numbers of people like me with non diabetes auto immune diseases…
    means that your life is improving.

    whats that?
    how is YOUR type 1 life improving because of the increase in type 2 diabetics and other illnesses?

    more insulin is being produced. more production means cheaper. it always has. Insurance companies CANNOT throw you guys under the bus, or the AARP and other groups of (type 2) will kill them.
    better injectors are being developed, better pumps, better blood glucose monitors….

    with the increase in both diabetes, AND auto immune issues… more studies are being done about things like how to detect, and prevent, the body from destroying itself…
    how to minimize the damage
    etc etc.

    yeah, maybe my husband could have prevented his illness, and maybe he couldn’t have…
    but people like him?
    they make your lives easier every day.

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