March 26, 2008

Educating the Public

Happy Belated Diabetes Alert Day! If "huh?" is your reaction to this, don't worry because it was my reaction this morning when I heard about it for the first time. It happened yesterday and apparently was the 20th year that the American Diabetes Association has celebrated it.

I most likely hadn't heard of it because the focus of Diabetes Alert Day is to educate the public on Type 2 diabetes and encourage people to get tested for the disease. And as I have Type 1 diabetes, it makes sense that I wasn't aware of it.

Type 1 and 2 are very different and very similar at the same time. Type 1 makes up about 10% of the diabetic population, while Type 2 makes up the rest. As a Type 1-er, I no longer make insulin at all, forcing me to inject the stuff. Type 2s may not make enough insulin or their bodies might be resistant to it. Sometimes they have to inject insulin, but I think that most are able to take pills or regulate it with diet. Type 2 is often the result of being overweight or eating poorly, and is the type that's been all over the news recently.

While both types of diabetics have to deal with similar daily struggles and ultimately deal with the prospects of the same horrible complications (heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, neuropathy and many others), my experience has been that we're handled very differently by the medical community. As a result of what I've been taught, I tend to zone out when Type 2 comes up. So I probably zoned out when I first heard about Diabetes Alert Day.

I completely agree with bringing national attention to the epidemic that is Type 2. It's a major problem that is, in my opinion, the result of processed snacks, cheap fast food, desk jobs, long commutes, video games, little to no P.E. in schools, and a failure to properly teach children about nutrition. But what about Type 1? I've found that the public automatically groups me with Type 2s because it's the only diabetes they know about. I've always eaten well, I'm not overweight, and I'm otherwise very healthy. My pancreas simply stopped producing insulin. It would be nice if the public were educated on Type 1 too.

So, American Diabetes Association, when's Type 1 Diabetes Awareness Day?

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