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?

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