Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Us vs Them" Controversy

A few days ago, I read something on facebook, posted by another "diabetes community" that I occationally read. It was someone's opinion of the "Us Vs. Them" Controversy that, I guess, appearently is flooding the online diabetes world.

I don't really hear too much about this controversy, except from time to time.

To my understanding, the controversy (atleast from what I am understanding as far as some of the things I have read over recent months) is Type 1 (us) vs. Type 2 (them). Is it, who's disease is harder? Which disease is easier? Which is more serious? I don't know.

Honestly, my opinions of this controversy are simple.

I personally don't think the controversy is over which is harder, which is easier, which is more serious, or anything of that nature.

I think the hardest thing, for Type 1 parents, like myself, when hearing about "diabetes" in general, is just that... the generalization.

You see on the news, tv commercials, and a vast amount of information on the internet about "how to prevent diabetes", "how to control diabetes", as well as various products and services surrounding these same topics.

What do all these things have in common? Generalization.

Have you ever wondered, why so many people in this day and age really don't know that much about either type? Why, when people say "oh, my little boy is diabetic", they instantly think about type 2 and obesity? Why so many people believe the misconceptions regarding diabetes (type 1)?

It is because the media generalizes diabetes, instead of recognising the diseases as seperate.

No, I don't really think either one is harder or easier. While yes, in the "bad days" phases of managing my own son's diabetes, I fall victim to thinking that way. But, I do feel bad for those with Type 2, and Gestational, and, the ever so rare Type 1.5 (yes its real! Click the words to learn more!). However, I think each type also comes with its own set of worries, frustrations, fears, and complications. Some may be similar to what we, as parents of type 1 children, go through, some, may not be. Who knows. I can only speak from the personal experiences I encounter as a mother of a type 1 child.

However, I do think, if the media would differenciate the different types, instead of generalizing "diabetes", it would not only help the awareness factor for diabetes as a whole, but also the individual types, possibly help parents across the globe "see" the signs of type 1 before DKA sets in, educate the public more on the severity of the disease(s), and help lessen some of the frustrations many parents experience.

What frustrations am I referring to?

Just to name a few...

1) The looks we get when telling our children "no" in the candy isle.
2) Some of the questions we receive regarding our child's medical condition. While, deep down we know these questions are just because they don't know, and are trying to learn... for some parents, having to answer the same questions a million different times because the general public is left oblivious about the disease, because the media doesn't communicate the differences, causes, management care, etc properly, can become tedious, tiresome, and yes, even frustrating at times. I remember when my son was first diagnosed, how many times I got asked the question "did he get diabetes because he ate too much candy?" For a while there, that question used to get under my skin, not so much because of who was asking the question, or the question itself, but just the sheer fact that so many people are so unaware of this disease. It doesn't bother me as much anymore, and instead, now I am at the point where I encourage questions like these, and many others... in an effort to help teach people the true, cold hard facts, about the disease.
3) The frustration of hearing about another child being diagnosed, but diagnosed while during DKA. I know for myself, had I been informed properly about diabetes, the types, the symptoms, etc. early on, I probably would have been able to recognise the symptoms sooner. Maybe not, but, the possiblity would have been greater. Maybe my son's blood sugar wouldn't have been 593 with very large ketones and an A1C level of 12.5% at diagnosis, had there been enough media attention to the disease, the individual types, and their "causes" and symptoms.

So, do I have the "Us vs. Them" mentallity? Some may think so, but I'd like to think not. I'd like to think my mentallity is more about how to educate the public more on the different types, instead of lumping all the different types of this disease into one category. I think by generalizing it to the public, it actually causes more confusion, less awareness, and ultimately, possibly delaying early detection for children.

Those are just my thoughts on this matter.

What are your thoughts?


Patty said...

Oh my God, I wish they would differentiate between the two. My mom and I were just talking about this woman she knows who used to tell my mom I should go to her doctor because he could cure my diabetes. [insert scream here]

Patty said...

I just read a book where one of the characters was offered ice cream and she turned it down because she said she was diabetic and it bugged me. And at a bar, she only ordered water -- like she couldn't have had a diet soda? But the author must have done some research or had personal experience with diabetes because did get some things right. Like the character admitted she had a weakness for tiramisu and she said she'd take more insulin to cover it when she ate it.

Patty said...

About one type being harder than the other, I used to think type 1 was much, much worse then I got to know a couple of type 2's and realized all types suck.

Meri said...

I love this post. Very very true! My mother has type 2. She is thin, she is on insulin. There are many misconceptions about the diesease. BUT! As you said...the two are often confused! And THAT is where the problems lie. I am of the opinion that T2 can sometimes be a harder life than T1...diet restrictions...using pills that don't work, being misdiagnosed when really you are a type1...it isn't easy. But yeah, most type 2's check their sugar once a day..or even ONCE A WEEK! Hello luxury! It is apples and oranges really.

Generalization IS the problem! It isn't us against them...it is us against the media really.