“Type 1 is not something that should hold us back.”
Although diabetes affects 9.4 percent of the U.S. population, only a tenth of people with diabetes have type 1, according to the American Diabetes Association. Given that number, it’s not surprising that type 1 diabetes is often so misunderstood by the general population.
Nobody can debunk these type 1 diabetes misconceptions better than the people who live with the condition every day. Here are four truths that patients with type 1 diabetes want you to know.
Truth: Treating type 1 diabetes goes beyond limiting sweets.
“Most people, I think, in the general public think that diabetes is just a matter of not eating sugar,” says Riva Greenberg, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 18. Eating simple carbohydrates (think white rice or pasta) can obviously impact blood glucose levels, but so can stress, menstrual periods, or being slightly less physically active than usual. In other words, managing blood sugar means putting careful consideration into your everyday actions—not just giving up soda.
“Really, the whole problem is [that] diabetes is managing blood sugar every day with everything that we do. High blood sugars can lead to all kinds of problems if we don’t manage them,” says Greenberg. Hyperglycemia, if unchecked, can lead to complications such as ketoacidosis, or “diabetic coma.” Learn how to deal with high and low blood sugar for diabetes here.
Truth: Every day is different.
The complexities of blood sugar management can catch you off guard from time to time. So many factors can impact blood glucose levels and you’ll need to stay on your toes.
“Every day is a new different set of circumstances that require a completely different approach,” says Liz Van Voorhis, who was diagnosed at age 15. “You think you’ve mastered it, and then something else is thrown your way.”
The American Diabetes Association recommends finding a community (online or in person) to connect yourself with other people who “get it” and can provide emotional support for the highs and lows of diabetes management.
Truth: Diabetes comes in different forms.
The three main forms of diabetes are type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes, but even among the three diagnoses, patients may have unique and varying symptoms and treatments. “Diabetes comes in many different flavors,” says Craig Kasper, who was diagnosed at age 27. “There are actually many different potential causes of diabetes.”
“Type 1, like I have, [means] my body doesn’t make any insulin,” says Greenberg. “I have to take insulin; it’s the only thing I can take. Type 2 diabetes is what we see with most people [with diabetes]. They usually start on pills and a lot of them will end up taking insulin as well.”
Learn more about the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes here.
Truth: Diabetes doesn’t have to hold you back.
“It’s not something that should necessarily hold us back from doing things,” says Kasper. “I try every year to take on challenges just to prove to myself and to prove to everybody around me that type 1 is not something that should hold us back.”
00:00:02,230 --> 00:00:07,574
I think diabetes is very poorly
understood, and if don't have it or
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you don't have it or
you don't have a loved one with it,
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you don't really understand
what it takes to manage it.
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Most people I think in the general public,
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think diabetes is just
a matter of not eating sugar.
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And maybe you have to take a pill and
maybe you have to take a shot.
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Whereas, really the whole
problem is diabetes is
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managing blood sugar everyday
with everything that we do.
00:00:37,096 --> 00:00:43,030
And high blood sugars can lead to all
kinds of problems if we don't manage them.
00:00:43,030 --> 00:00:47,170
Every day is a new different set of
circumstances that require a completely
00:00:47,170 --> 00:00:48,427
00:00:48,427 --> 00:00:52,840
You think you've mastered it and
then something else is thrown your way,
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and I always say that in a math equation,
diabetes one plus one does not equal two.
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It equals two one day and
equals five the next day and
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equals negative seven the next day.
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I think there's two misconceptions
about diabetes that I would really love
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other people to understand.
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The first is that diabetes comes
in many different flavors, and
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there are actually many different
potential causes of diabetes.
00:01:14,112 --> 00:01:18,870
So type 1 like I have,
my body doesn't make any insulin.
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And so I have to take insulin,
it's the only thing I can take.
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Type 2 diabetes is what we see in
most people, nine out of ten people.
00:01:27,360 --> 00:01:29,630
And they usually start on pills and
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a lot of them will end up
taking insulin as well.
00:01:32,420 --> 00:01:34,980
The second thing that I think that's
really important that I'd love other
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people to understand, particularly
about my case in terms of type 1.
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Is that it's not something that should
necessarily hold us back from doing
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things, because of the fact
that we're type 1.
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I try every year to take on challenges
just to prove to myself and
00:01:53,412 --> 00:01:56,444
to prove to everybody around me,
00:01:56,444 --> 00:02:01,452
that type 1 is not something
that should hold us back.
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Hyperglycemia (high blood glucose). Arlington, VA: American Diabetes Association. (Accessed on March 2, 2018 at http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/hyperglycemia.html.)
Living with type 1 diabetes. Arlington, VA: American Diabetes Association. (Accessed on March 2, 2018 at http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/recently-diagnosed/living-with-type-1-diabetes.html.)
Statistics about diabetes. Arlington, VA: American Diabetes Association. (Accessed on March 2, 2018 at http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/statistics/.)