Type 1 vs type 2 diabetes debate continues

Which is worse t1 or t2? Keeping another myth alive.


Wow, I am late to this discussion, but felt it worthwhile to join because it appears the debate continues…

Last month Diabetes Health published “What People with Type 1 Diabetes can Learn from Type 2s” by Clay Wirestone  It set off a firestorm of comments, mostly from type 1s, about how dare you tell us we can learn something from those lazy, fat type 2s!

David Spero, blogger over at Diabetes Self Management then wrote this post, “Type 1s Vs. Type 2s?” calling for type 1s and type 2s to come together for the sake of our health and that both sides are not fully aware of what the other side lives with. Interestingly, the comments posted on Spero’s site were almost unanimously empathetic.

It seems to me, Wirestone’s biggest goof was his argument (that t1s can learn from t2s) and his tone. If he’d approached the topic from the point of view that t1s and t2s share some commonalities and we can each learn something from each other, the war may have never ensued. But it is a fascinating study in how we all emotionally hold diabetes.

You should go read the stories and comments to both stories. In reading all the comments to Wirestone’s post, I found Allison Blass nailed it for me:

“The problem with this article isn’t so much that it’s saying people with type 1 can learn something from type 2, but assuming that people with type 1 aren’t already learning these lessons for themselves. Plenty of PWDs with type 1 exercise regularly, take their medication faithfully, and make small changes to get healthy. These aren’t genius concepts divined by the type 2 community. 

I will say that the amount of misinformation and misconceptions about type 2 diabetes in the comments are disgusting. Type 2 diabetes is not CAUSED by obesity – it’s a contributing factor. Type 2 is not cured through diet and exercise – it is managed, just like insulin. Type 2 diabetes does not have the same flexibility as type 1 – blood sugars have to be dropped through extra exercise or changes in diet, not just a simple bolus. People with type 2 diabetes can go years without being diagnosed, which means that many people with type 2 are diagnosed at the same time they find out they have complications. 

Type 2 diabetes is a bitch, same as type 1 diabetes. And yes, they are different. But we both have to do things that are different, we both have a health issues and learning tactics and strategies for handling certain situations could help. 

In any event, if you don’t like people spreading misconceptions about your disease, you should probably be damn sure you’re not spreading misinformation about someone else’s. It’s not nice.” 

-Allison Blass 

And then, as I said, even tho I came late to the game, I felt compelled to add my own 2 cents worth and so I posted this today on Spero’s blog:

“As a type 1 for 38 years I understand the cry of type 1s that no one understands how hard and intense it is to live with this disease, and that we are grouped under the same umbrella of those lazy, fat type 2s who did it to themselves.

Yes, many type 2s engaged in poor health habits that may have led to their diagnosis, but not all. One in five are slim actually. For some the genetic component is so strong they would have gotten it regardless of their actions. And there must certainly be type 2s who are annoyed with the bad press their own brothers and sisters bring them.

But one diabetes being worse than the other? It’s all a matter of perspective. I wrote a book recently, “50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life and the 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It”  and the myth I always quote is, “Type 2 diabetes is not as serious as type 1.”

It is one of my favorites, because the emotion runs so high and because the answer seems so obvious, but is not. Both are extremely serious because they can both lead to the same devastating complications. While type 1s will never get off their insulin, and endure more intense management, type 2s are asked to undertake preventive behavior, which anyone can tell you, is a bitch.

Since most type 2s are diagnosed years after they have the illness, many already have complications by time they’re diagnosed. And while most type 1s will live with their illness longer than type 2s, many will also live more healthfully with it because they developed healthy habits earlier and they see more directly the positive result of healthy habits.

When “What People with Type 1 Diabetes Can Learn from Type 2s,” appeared on Diabetes Health what incensed most readers was the cavalier notion that type 1s aren’t doing good enough, so obviously we could learn a thing or two from type 2s. That reeks of presumption and offends.

We all have something of value to share from our experiences, and it’s up to us as individuals how we manage our diabetes. And, how we choose to see it – some see themselves as victims and only see hardship, others see diabetes as a welcome wake-up call and get healthier, and others see diabetes as a signal that life is precious and go about making the most of it.

Since no one can argue with your experience, it’s foolish to throw rocks at someone else’s. And while personally, I would vote to change the names of type 1 and type 2 diabetes to better reflect the differences and educate the general public about the differences, when it comes to helping each other out, let’s not overlook that living with any chronic disease we share many similarities.”

What’s your take on this?

A success for “Weekend for Women”

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Okay, I know, a bit of schmaltz with former Ms. America, but for a good cause. I just returned from the first“Weekend for Women” event put on by Diabetes Sisters and sponsored byTCOYD. Actually, the two events dovetailed this past weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Diabetes Sisters was started just a few short years ago by Brandy Barnes, to bring women living with diabetes together and break the isolation so many of us feel. 

As Brandy opened the event Saturday evening she said she couldn’t believe how quickly she was seeing her dream come true as she looked out at the 100 faces staring back at her. 

For there we were: type 1s, type 2s pretty evenly divided, and all ages from early twenties to eighty. I talked with 80 year old Liza, who got type 2 diabetes three years ago and I only hope I have her vitality, and her looks, when I’m 80! Women also came from both the local area and as far away as California, Illinois, New York and Texas.

The event kicked off Saturday night with dinner, socializing and a pampering treatment: massage, nails, hair or make up. 

Sunday former Ms. America and diabetes advocate, Nicole Johnson, gave a truly inspiring talk. She developed type 1 diabetes at 19 and went on, against the wishes of many around her who thought it would be too much for her, to win the Ms. Virginia and then Ms. America title. 

While she is beautiful, her talk – warm, funny and personable – showed she is beautiful on the inside too. And while there was probably no other beauty contest winner in the audience, I think we could all identify with the limitations she talked about that others often put on us and that in mass we turn that around to show just how capable and remarkable each of us is.

The day continued with a host of informational lectures from keeping your heart healthy, feeding your body, mind and spirit and dealing with body image to having a healthy pregnancy and going through menopause. Sheri Colberg was our ending key note speaker and she shared from her book secrets of the longest living people with diabetes. 

As much as we came together to bond, celebrate and learn, it was also inspiring for me to see what Brandy had created bringing us together, and the uncompromising support she appears to have from her beloved type 3 husband and sister. 

There’s another “Weekend for Women” in the works for next year and it may even happen sooner than expected. If you’d like to participate you might want to stay current on the Diabetes Sisters web site.  

Dream a little dream – life after a cure

How would I handle this kind of freedom – pie everyday?


Hmm…maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, after all. But I do seem to have my eyes closed, like a blind person in this new world


 Today, the last of diabetes blog week, the task is to pretend a cure has been found. We are all given a tiny little pill to swallow and *poof* our pancreases are back in working order. No side effects. No more insulin resistance. No more diabetes. Tell what your life is now like. Or take us through your first day celebrating life without the Big D. 

Blog about how you imagine you would feel if you no longer were a Person With Diabetes. 

I realize what a huge shift it is to think of what my every day would be like if diabetes were not in it: To eat without a second thought about what I’m eating and how many carbs are in it and how much insulin I have to load in my syringe. That seems the biggest technical change that would occur. Also, to not stab myself with needles – both for taking insulin and testing my blood sugar – a dozen times a day or see blood sugar trails in my kitchen and on my clothes. 

To not have lows, but get through a string of days, geez every day, without feeling my heart beat out of my chest or that I HAVE TO EAT to save my life. How I hate that. 

To not have to get up in the morning – no matter what the time  – jump out of bed (usually 6:30 AM) and test my blood sugar so I can take that first injection to blunt my early morning rise. Of course that’s followed by a bolus for breakfast and a basal shot for the day. 

Three injections before 8 AM, no more. Sleep, with nothing hanging over me. Now that’s a sweet dream. 

I seem to be caught up in what wouldn’t be. For it’s so hard to imagine what would be if I no longer had diabetes. So hard to nail after 38 years. 

While you know the score – every day is a new day you have to manage your food, exercise, insulin, emotions, time and activities, the daily ongoing chore of doing this has long been my life – it’s just what I know after all these years. To rewind to before what has been two-thirds of my life is a distant memory. To fast-forward to not having diabetes is like a sci-fi-like imagined future. 

And since, for the past seven years my work has been diabetes, thinking of life without it conjures up a multitude of feelings:

1)   Who am I? Diabetes has lived with me for almost 4 decades

2)   Yikes! What the f_ _k am I going to do for a living?!

3)   Whewwww – the sound of every short-term worry and long-term fear slipping off my shoulders

4)   I’m just like everyone else. Hmmm.. is that a good thing?

5)   I’m leaving this space blank for when it really happens. 

After all, I’ve been hearing for years it’s going to happen any minute now .

My Daily Power-Walk



As part of our continued town-hall blogging this week, we’re tasked with writing about exercise. If you’ve been here before you likely know I’m addicted to my daily power-walks. I stroll out of my apartment building most mornings, walk along two blocks – that’s streets to anyone not from NYC – and a huge park awaits me that I walk around. 

Most days I walk around the perimeter of the park rather than in it. I save that for weekends when I’m swept up in all the walkers, joggers and bikers. But during the week I enjoy the leafy trees and the brownstones along the streets that hug the park. All tolled it’s about 7,235 steps around the park, 3.7ish miles I figure.

A few days a week I might walk not around the park but to do an errand.  I walk to Trader Joe over in Brooklyn Heights, the library, a great middle-eastern market and through half of Brooklyn to buy discount produce. Luckily living in a city like mine, I can walk almost everywhere – including over the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan which takes me 77 minutes or so, not that I’m anal.

I’ve even been walking with an injured toe – it’s got a hairline fracture. And, yes, I’m in a soft surgical shoe. But once I felt I could manage more than walking from my living room to my computer – all 5 feet – I took again to the streets.

Do I go low walking? Sure, sometimes. It’s not an exact science: how many carb grams for how many steps. You can walk everyday the same walk, eat the same pre-meal, take the same amount of insulin yet your body doesn’t seem to know it. 

I carry SweeTarts all the time. They’re in every pocket and bag and half are way beyond their expiration date. I find this out when I have to resort to a roll and it’s stale. But, hey, at least it’s there and still works its magic.

There aren’t many other forms of exercise I do because there aren’t many other forms of exercise I like well enough to keep up. 

But walking: I walk because I am. How nice to slow down the world, see the trees, feel yourself breathe, let your thoughts ebb and flow and know you’re burning calories and helping your insulin work better! 

I walk because I am. I walk because I can.