Type I: The Forgotten Diabetes
I can remember being a kid and seeing commercials for new Type II diabetes medications that would always end with the disclaimer at the end: “Not for those with Type I diabetes”. Or having to explain to friends and their families: “No, not like your grandpa, but yes it is diabetes. Yes, it’s the same...just different.”
Type II diabetics are much more prone to profiling, largely due to the seemingly causal link to unhealthy lifestyle habits. Type I’s are harder to profile. Their disease arose sooner than the habits that one would typically use to profile a Type II. In fact, my Type I diagnosis was the catalyst in the formation of many of my healthy habits; things like monitoring my diet, avoiding overly indulgent or sweet things, and staying as active as possible. This is in comparison to Type II that seems to have arisen because of a lack of those things.
Every type I remembers getting the rundown by the doctor after their diagnosis. They're told that their condition is genetic, that there isn't a cure right now, and that with all of the technology available today we'll live a perfectly normal life. For 8 year old me in 2001, I was bought in.
And then you're cut loose on the world. You have your quarterly check-ups, and your prescription refills, stashes of swedish fish in your cupboards and car doors. Life goes on. In my 21 years of living with Type I, aside from a few convenient technological updates, much of what is known and taught about the condition itself is exactly the same. Genetics, no cure, let's make it as convenient as possible.
Type II diabetes, which accounts for a whopping 90% of the diabetic population, carries the bulk of the attention, innovation and research space. And as it should, no? Majority rules.
The input is abundant. From fitness influencers to health coaches, nutritionists to MDs, everyone has their theory and, to a certain degree, success story in managing Type II symptoms. There are over 14 classes of medications to help manage Type II diabetes.
But why has the term "diabetes" come to only mean Type II? What message is that sending to the ever-expanding number of Type I diabetics? Have we been left out of the commercial again, so to speak?
But before you let your emotions blur your vision, There is hope for a cure. And it won't come from where you expect it.
It's going to come from you and I. A diabetic will be who cures diabetes. How could it be any other way?
Right now we're waiting on a cure from the institution whose very existence relies on the disease being around. That doesn't bode well for progress.
We are the petri dishes, the chemists and the white coats. If you've gathered anything from my page, it's that the information is there. You just have to be willing to sift through it all.
I've spent the past few months pouring myself into this. I'm encouraged by the progress.
Sit with the hope. Let it sink in. The medical community may have forgotten about us, but I haven't.