In January 2017, at the age of 43, I was misdiagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. 6 months later, after several near-death visits to the emergency room, I learned I actually have Type 1 diabetes.
In case you’re not that familiar with the differences:
Type 2 diabetes means the person is resistant to the insulin they make. (Insulin regulates blood sugar.) It is usually (but not always!) associated with being overweight. Most Type 2 diabetics only take oral medications, but some also inject insulin.
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic, irreversible auto-immune disease that means the person has antibodies that attack the cells that make insulin, making insulin injections required. Many people with Type 1 diabetes have an insulin pump that continually pumps insulin into the person’s body to keep them alive. (I have that.)
Notes: Type 1 used to be referred to as “Juvenile Diabetes,” but we now know that it can be triggered at any age.
A late onset of Type 1 is also referred to as Type 1.5, or Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA). LADA has also been referred to as “Double Diabetes” because patients often experience symptoms of both Type 1 and Type 2.
A third type of diabetes, called Gestational Diabetes, can occur during pregnancy.
I wish that Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes had completely different names. Unfortunately, when most people hear the term “diabetes,” they automatically assume Type 2.
One of the reasons is that if you know a person with diabetes, they’re most likely Type 2. About 85% of people who have diabetes are Type 2.
Also, media use the term “diabetes” as a nickname for Type 2 Diabetes. With this misinformation, how would anyone know that Type 1 Diabetes is NOT caused by eating too much?
Even the American Diabetes Association promotes a monolithic view of diabetes. They have a series of commercials that generalize diabetes as a disease associated with eating poorly.
- Why Do I have Diabetes? – The answer I came up with was primarily belly fat. (See Diabetes as a Disease of Fat Toxicity). That applied to many diabetics who are Type 2, but Type 1 diabetes is NOT caused by belly fat.
- The Search for My Ideal Diabetic Diet Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 – I talked about how I was going to “reverse my diabetes.” Type 1 diabetes is not reversible!
- My Diabetes Mistakes – Again, I just used diabetes as a generic term.
I apologize for contributing to the stereotyping! I will continue to help raise awareness about the differences.