What drives me crazy about what people think about Type I Diabetes:
- often times people think it comes from eating too much sugar
- people think lack of exercise (too much time playing video games) causes it
- sometimes people think maybe it’s not from eating too much sugar but just “not eating right” or not eating enough fruits or vegetables
- Even on television programs or magazine articles we hear or see where even doctors say something along the line of, with a change in your diet, lose some weight, and increase activity you can reverse your diabetes and get off of your diabetes meds.
Oh, that last one really drives me nearly insane because it is said by doctors.
Let’s get something straight, There is a BIG difference between Type I and Type II diabetes. The above statement often used by doctors is speaking of Type II, but they often fail to say that, so the doctors have greatly fed the misinformation to the general public concerning diabetes, simply because they don’t define Type I or Type II, they just make general statements and use the general term diabetes.
So what is the difference in Type I and Type II Diabetes?
Let’s start with Type II because it is the one that most people are familiar with even within their limited knowledge. They usually know a grandparent or older relative that has it. Type II is usually but not always due to lifestyle as mentioned above, over-weight, lack of exercise, not eating healthy and most often age on-set. Notice, I said not always. There are people who are not over-weight, who are relatively active, and eat a pretty balanced diet, but they still get Type II diabetes. Type II’s can often manage their condition without meds by making lifestyle changes, most often though they do have to take some oral medication to help with the production of insulin.
Then there are the Type II’s that do have to take 1 injection per day of slow reacting insulin along with their oral medication, because their body does still produce insulin, but not enough.
Type II diabetes can turn into Type I over a period of time.
Now to clear up some common misconceptions about Type I Diabetes:
First of all, you CAN NOT get Type I Diabetes from what you eat. OK, so your 4 year old ate a whole cake, so what, that gave the child a stomach ache, not Type I Diabetes. Eating the cake, or any other sweet does not cause diabetes. Type I Diabetes is an autoimmune disease which causes the pancreas to no longer produce the beta cells that produce insulin. Since you can’t live without insulin that means a person with Type I Diabetes will have to get insulin everyday, several times per day by way of injection or insulin pump.
There is an epidemic of Type I Diabetes aka Juvenile Diabetes, which usually strikes before the age of 20. There is a lot of debate in the medical field, and no one knows for sure why the pancreas just stops producing these beta cells. There’s usually are some genetic markers, some doctors believe it is environmental, there’s a lot of evidence pointing toward the fact that a common virus can attack the pancreas.
Upon our daughter’s diagnosis we were blessed to have a doctor that set us straight on some of these common misconceptions right away. She told us adamantly that this was not caused by anything she ate, or by anything we did. There was nothing we could have done that caused it, and nothing we could have done to prevent Type I Diabetes.
We had a pretty healthy diet and lifestyle and our 29 pound 5 year old was definitely not over weight.
Whew, then 5 months later here we go again, our 4 year old son was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. He too was a small child, so no obesity or lack of exercise in him either.
Wow, we really did have a hard time believing that we as parents couldn’t have prevented it, or we should have watched closer at what they ate, or we could have done something different here or there.
When you have a child diagnosed with anything it is a very emotionally charged time in your life. We found that we bounced back and forth between anger, sadness, disbelief that we couldn’t have prevented it, and thankfulness that they were still alive and we have lifesaving medication for them.
We learned quick the ignorance surrounding Type I Diabetes, and felt the ridicule of others as they said things like, my goodness what did you feed them. We have had people we know come to us upon seeing something our kids were eating and say are they supposed to eat that.
To clarify other common misconceptions:
people think that it’s some childhood thing that they will out-grow.
Truth: Kids (or anyone else) DO NOT out grow Type I Diabetes.
Some people think it can be reversed with diet and exercise.
Truth: No, Type I can not be reversed. Type I can not turn into Type II
People with Type I Diabetes can’t do things that other people can do.
Truth: They can do anything they want to do. They do need to take special precautions to manage their blood glucose levels during activities.
Insulin is a cure.
Truth: Insulin is not a cure. Insulin is a life-saving medication that we are so happy to have, but it is not a cure. At this time there is no cure for Type I Diabetes.
Oh yeah, signing off with just one more clarification: Diabetes, Type I or Type II is not contagious.