My slightly grumpy thoughts about World Diabetes Day

World Diabetes Day is on the 14th of November, and this year the theme is Diabetes: Protect Our Future (for more on this, click here for Ash’s great write up).

Which is awesome. That relates to all of us, type 1, 2, gestational, LADA etc. Yay awareness! This day is an incredible initiative, as the campaign draws attention to issues that are of paramount importance to the diabetes world and keeps diabetes firmly in the public spotlight.

HOWEVER

I have an issue with it this year.

When you look at the campaign, there are phrases such as:

“Diabetes and its complications are largely preventable”
(Not my type. Complications preventable? Absolutely! My diabetes? There is no way it could have been prevented)

“World Diabetes Day will promote greater awareness of the risk factors for diabetes and encourage best-practice sharing in diabetes prevention.”
(That’s great! Awesome! Doesn’t relate to me!)

Honestly, this makes me feel like crap and a little bit ignored.

There is a discussion of how type 1 is not preventable, but it is literally two sentences at the start here. This bit is in a subheading link, so unless you’re like me and extra keen to read everything about the campaign, you won’t see it. People like me aren’t the ones that need educating, it’s the regular people with no connection to the diabetes community that don’t know anything about it  that need the educating! How are we going to educate the masses if an important distinction is hidden in a second subheading?

Even the freaking video has ‘diet and lifestyle’… ‘together we can change this’…

Good, great, thanks. The video on your main page not only completely disregards the type 1s sitting there watching it who did nothing to increase their risk, but also misses a vital opportunity to educate the typical person watching this 2 minute video.

mad-at-theinternet

The theme of 2009 – 2013 is education and prevention, but I feel like the education bit is completely discounted by the generalised use of ‘diabetes’ all over this campaign. How can we preach ‘education’ if WDD doesn’t educate people that type 1 isn’t preventable? I spend my life saying “No, it wasn’t my diet or lifestyle, my body just attacked itself one day”.

Just because we only make up 10% of diabetics worldwide (if that, it may be lower), doesn’t mean that we should be put under the same umbrella. Please don’t think that this post is saying ‘Ew type 2″, it’s anything but! We are all united in our common goal for more awareness. The diabetes community is a tight knit community, regardless of our type.

right-here-bro

BUT I don’t like feeling ignored. I feel a bit weird getting on board with a campaign that can’t even be bothered to put a ‘type 2’ in front of anything to do with prevention.

I did nothing to cause this, why can’t we use this ‘education’ campaign to educate people about this?! What hope have I got in educating people if the IDF website doesn’t even put this distinction front and centre?!

so-mad-i-could

I don’t know where I’m going with this blog post. Basically, I’m a bit cranky. How hard is it to put a ‘type 2’ in front of prevention, really? I give a lot of time and effort into the diabetes community, and I don’t like feeling ignored or pushed off to the sidelines.

I still love World Diabetes Day, I’m just not loving the campaign 100%!

EDIT: I did forget to say, there are cases of type 2 that can’t be prevented, these guys just lost the genetic lottery! An older friend of mine (hey Linda!) got type 2 in her late 30s, and she was incredibly fit and healthy. It’s more that type 2 CAN be preventable in a majority of cases, whereas there is no chance with a type 1. This is why I want type 2 in front of prevention. Please don’t think I’m type 2 bashing. I love you guys!

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8 responses to “My slightly grumpy thoughts about World Diabetes Day

  1. Love this blog post – you hit the nail on the head! Of course you are probably preaching to the converted! : )

  2. Very well said George, behind this 100%.

  3. I’m like you my Endo Sistah! It frustrates me to high heaven when we are misrepresented! Great post. Happy #WDD xx

  4. And I thought I was the only T1 that notices this bias in the media. Anyone evr watch the biggest loser and get upset when they talk about how they “no longer have diabetes” or that they are “pre-diabetic”. I vote for a new medical name for T2 diabetes. Is T2 a condition or a disease? I wish the medical community could see it through the eyes of a T1.

  5. Funnily enough, I found your blog by googling whether or not people with Type 1 hate people with Type 2 after seeing all the hatred Type 1s have for us 2s on a diabetes support forum.

    Me? Type 2, diagnosed earlier this year, and most definitely not the ‘typical’ person who gets it. My GP and diabetes educator did not expect a thin, healthy looking 36 year old to have Type 2. In fact, we only found it because I was getting a blood test for something else (although it sure explained the symptoms I’d been having but didn’t even think to mention to the doctor. Well, I did think to mention some of them, but forgot when I went in).

    So yes, seeing all the hate towards Type 2, who caused their own diabetes, well. I see there really is no support out there. Sadly most Type 1s seem just as uneducated as the general population who annoy them so much by not knowing the ins and outs of diabetes (I know I sure didn’t. I only had a very vague understanding of it before I was diagnosed).

    And look, this is not you. I understand the frustration, and you do acknowledge that not all people with Type 2 cause it themselves (and let’s face it, someones obesity may well be linked to other things like depression, so it’s not as simple as saying they made themselves fat), but I must disagree with you that the diabetes community is a tight knit community.

    Absolutely there should be better education. There should be a differentiation between the types (and let’s face it, there’s multiple causes for each type), but I can also see why it’s just called diabetes in the education campaigns, they’re keeping it simple. They’re not saying all people with diabetes are at fault for getting it, but they’re saying if you don’t have diabetes, you can work towards preventing yourself from getting it.

    My reaction now is that I’m going to remove myself from all diabetes communities, because there is no support, only ridicule to be had. It’s funny. The first thing my GP said to me was it was not my fault. The first thing you get from diabetes support communities is, it IS your fault. I really can’t imagine how it is for someone who IS overweight, and already suffering from depression and self esteem issues. It’s better to go it alone than to face the put downs from people who should know better.

    Sorry for the rant on your blog!

    • Hi Steve, thanks for your comment.

      I’m so sorry that has been your experience. I have many friends with type 2 diabetes, and unfortunately you are not alone. There are so many type 1s out there who can be extremely judgemental and don’t know what they are talking about. It makes me angry.

      You’ve read the entire post, so I don’t have to restate myself re: I’m not talking about all type 2s. I’m sure you can relate to my frustrations – having people think they’re qualified to comment on your food choices, being told if you eat cinnamon your diabetes will go away … THIS is why we need education. In my opinion, this starts with different type education. Different ways type 2 can happen, gestational, LADA, the lot.

      That’s just it though, sometimes you CAN’T prevent your diabetes! A healthy lifestyle does shit all! I still got type 1, as someone who was very healthy, danced 15 hours a week etc., and you, as a typically healthy member of society, got type 2, the type that is talked about in the media 98% of the time. It doesn’t do justice to any of us if we conveniently ignore that fact and tell the public (through omission) that they can prevent it. Sometimes they can, and sometimes they can’t, and people need to know that. At the very least, it will stop people feeling like they know why i have type 1 diabetes. No, for the 246th time, it wasn’t because I ate too much sugar…

      Try and see it from my perspective. My diabetes is a huge part of my life, I volunteer for two diabetes organisations and am currently in the middle of preparing an organisation myself – yet IDF, the organisation that is meant to represent ALL of us – nearly ignores my type completely. I treat my diabetes in a different way, I am DIFFERENT – this is not shame by association, it’s simply a need to be recognised – that I produce no insulin and I face different challenges to people with other sorts of diabetes . It’s extremely frustrating to be ignored by the organisation that is meant to help you.

      I take a bit of offence at the fact that you needed to tell me that you found my blog through googling hate between the types. You know that was not my intention in this post, nor would it EVER be, and it’s made me feel upset. As I’ve said before, I have many friends with type 2 and hate is the LAST thing I feel towards them. Anyone that knows me in real life can back me up on that.

      Finally, can I just say again how sorry I am that you’ve had such a bad experience in the diabetes community. I promise there are non judgemental pockets of the community out there – my little #ozdoc family is fantastic , i hope you feel like you can get involved whenever you like. Trust me, I dislike the judgemental and shaming diabetics as much as you!

  6. First of all, my apologies! I did not mean to insult. I was more aiming to give some context into where my post was coming from, this random person suddenly appearing and posting a rather long rant.
    Also, there were plenty of hits that were pretty much just hating on us Type 2s. I guess I commented here because you were different. You articulate the frustration well, and it helped me gain a better understanding of where it was coming from, which is really what I was looking for.

    I’m only a few months in, but I haven’t had too many crackpot cures. Gosh. I wish cinnamon cured diabetes. Hello hot cinnamon doughnuts.

    So I was just reading that up to 40% of Type 2 is NOT preventable. That sure is a good chunk. I must admit, the way it’s portrayed, and certainly the reaction I was posting about would indicate that most Type 2 is preventable, not just over half.

    Absolutely I can understand your frustration. Dealing with misconceptions your entire life. Whether it’s you ate too much sugar, you should eat more cinnamon or anything else people come up with, I can see that would get frustrating. Give me a few years and i’ll probably understand even better.

    If I was to play devil’s advocate here, do the organisations have limited funding for publicity/education campaigns, so decide to spend it on trying to reduce the preventable? After all, everyone else is already a lost cause, right? Do they not differentiate between diabetes because it keeps it simple? Because Type 2 is the most common and it’s just easier? Because diabetes is more a blanket term for the symptoms, not really the underlying causes? In the end, I have no idea.
    I hope they don’t ignore you when it comes to treatments, research and support.

    One of my good friends at work has Type 1, and I must admit, while I did learn about it a bit more from her, I still was nowhere near educated enough on diabetes. I had symptoms, I just didn’t know they were symptoms of diabetes. While I did mean to mention them to my doctor I forgot, and we found it while testing blood for something else. Information on different types is out there and easy to find, but most people have no interest in looking I guess.

    I can’t help but think mine was preventable. If I can currently manage with lifestyle alone, I should probably not have gotten it. That said, my doctor wasn’t sure if I was Type 2 or late onset Type 1 because I didn’t fit the profile for Type 2. So it was probably always going to hit sooner or later.

    So, thank you. You’ve articulated the frustration well and helped me understand where it comes from. Thank you for not giving into it and hating on us!
    And sorry once more. I didn’t mean to insult, and I hope you stop being ignored. With the work you do you can probably make that difference.

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