I did not do this to myself. I could repeat this a hundred, a thousand, a million times. Would I believe it? Would you believe it?
The media as well as the general public’s perception would have you believe that brought type 2 diabetes upon myself. And some of the most scathing opinions on the subject come from people with type 1 diabetes and their caregivers.
“You could have done something to prevent type 2 diabetes – I (or my child) could not prevent type 1 diabetes”.
The thing is, a combination of an errant thyroid and genetics led to my diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Fatigue, joint and muscle pain, inability to lose weight – this is what happens when your thyroid slows down or stops working. None of these are conducive to avoiding type 2 diabetes if you are already at genetic risk. None of these make it easy to stay active. (Other symptoms included irregular menstruation in women, cold intolerance, heightened anxiety and depression, and hair loss. Just so you know.)
Most cases of hypothyroidism are autoimmune. Just like type 1 diabetes. And we all know that autoimmune diseases are not preventable.
That makes it so much easier to accept that I did not bring hypothyroidism upon myself than it is to believe the same regarding type 2 diabetes.
Even if I didn’t have an autoimmune disease, though, I may still have been served the short end of the genetic stick regarding type 2 diabetes. I will never know for sure.
I did not do this to myself. Nobody does this to themselves. Who would do diabetes to themselves if given the choice?
I was just having this argument with some people yesterday. I’m going to quote you. Then I’m going to slap them.
Thank you for setting people straight, even if it leads to a good slap.
Rachel, thank you for speaking out. I’m aghast at what is stated, written, etc. about type 2 diabetes accompanied with the sheer blame without any regard to genetics, and the disease process itself, the weight gain that is often the side effect of inadequate medications or of type 2 itself, the emotional impact of diabetes etc.
As a mother of a child with type 1 diabetes, I find it egregious that people with type 1 in their family are so utterly misinformed about type 2 diabetes and continue to believe and spread myths without doing their homework. I will continue to dispel the myths surrounding type 2 diabetes, as I do about type 1 diabetes.
Everyone needs support and empowerment when diagnosed and living with chronic illness and disease. Somehow the blamers seem to feel power with their pain inflicting words. They have no concept of how difficult it can be to live with type 2 diabetes especially when every headline spreads the false notion that it can completely be prevented or reversed.
The medical community needs to step up to the podium and dispel these myths as well. Is the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists listening?
I appreciate all you do with your diabetes work. It would be easy for you as a parent of someone with type 1 to be standoffish about type 2, but you never are because you recognize both struggles with a big heart. Thank you.
I feel very much for people with type 2 who have this constant negative perception and unwarranted stigma to deal with. Living with any type of diabetes is hard enough, without people implying that you somehow deserve it because you could have prevented it. No one deserves diabetes.
The bottom line is that in order to get type 2, you must have a susceptibility to it. After all, some people can carry an enormous amount of excess weight and never develop it. For others, a very small weight gain will be enough to push their system over the edge. Or another factor, which may be entirely independent of weight – hence the number of adults with a healthy BMI who still develop the condition.
Of course, this isn’t to say that there aren’t some people who do not do everything that they could to help prevent health conditions which may include type 2. But that is about people not taking responsibility for their overall health and wellbeing and not tipping the odds against a variety of heath condition in their favour. A very unhealthy lifestyle may or may not lead to diabetes. But a healthy lifestyle will not guarantee that you don’t get diabetes, or other health issues.
C, thank you for your comments. No matter what, diabetes isn’t easy.
Tales of my Thirties,
Diabetes sucks … for everyone. I have Type I, recently diagnosed after a traumatic experience at the age of 46. I went onto a full Diabetic Coma with no signs of brains activity. My husband had to tell my kids and my family that I had less than 24 hours to live. It was a horrible experience and it all could have been avoided. How you ask?
Because I did not believe that a person on my age could get Type I Diabetes, and according to what we are all taught in the media about Type II, there is no way I could have had that either.
I am 5’3″, weight 110 pounds and run three miles a day, I eat healthy and I am in excellent physical condition, especially for a female of my age…so when I went into the ER with these symptoms…extreme thirst, throwing up every hour for the past 24 hours, recent loss of vision, loss of 13 pounds in the last ten days, extreme hunger pains, and Thrush…not even the ER docs thought of pricking my finger to check for diabetes.
I was in the ER for 10 hours before I was diagnosed, I went into a coma after I was there for only four hours. They ran cat scans, and MRI and blood tests and everything in the book, but no one bothered to give me a 50 cent finger prick test.
Why? Because I do not look like a “Person who would get type II Diabetes” and it is rare for a person my age to get Type I…So they just didn’t bother to check for it. The thing is… I knew the signs of Diabetes, People in my husband’s family have Type II.
I also have audio immune Hypo thyroid, I have had it since I was 10. Luckily, it has not given me any weight problems since I started taking medication. And in fact i assumed what was wrong with me was that I was out of town and had run out of Thyroid pills and I thought that was what was making me sick.
The point is, people who are spreading information about Diabetes …Docs, journalists, etc. they need to be responsible in what they say. They need to let people know that there is more than one kind of Diabetes and that anyone can get Type I, 1.5 or II. “Anyone” can get Diabetes. There may be things that we can do for ourselves to try to prevent or lower our chances of getting it, but no one is completely immune to it no matter what you do.
People also need to understand that it is difficult to live with and stop passing judgment on any of us. Do we all stand and point fingers at smokers who get lung cancer? No, because no matter how a person gets cancer, it is still cancer and it is a horrible experience. Diabetes is pretty much the same… no matter what kind you have or how you got it.. it is not an easy thing to live with.
People need to stop putting stereo types on people with diabetes. We all have our own story, and we are not all the same. I hate being judged by people who know nothing about my disease. And everyone who has Diabetes needs to be responsible and learn about all Types of diabetes, because many people with Diabetes do not even understand that T1 and T2 are not even the same disease. We all have to know everything that we can and empower ourselves, because we are our own best defense against complications of the disease. We have to learn how to manage our own care if we want to live a full life.
I don’t really know whose fault it is that a person has diabetes and in all honesty…I don’t really care. What I do care about is that once a person has it, they need to have access to the knowledge and resources to help themselves! And that we spread the word accurately about diabetes so that people stop dying from it without even knowing that they have it. If we as Diabetics don’t take a stand and stop the myths and misinformation about Diabetes and help people to understand…then the way that people see us will never change and that in fact…is OUR FAULT!
Absolutely, we must continue to take action and speak out and educate!
Even though I know for a fact I inherited the genes to develop T2 I still beat myself up about it. It’s hard not to internalize those messages that I’m a fat fatty who brought this on myself. :(
I hate that anyone feels that way, though as long as myths are propagated, it’s what we end up feeling :(.
Great post Rachel. Nobody “does diabetes” to themselves.