Explaining Type 1 Diabetes

Kelsey Bonilla Health Guide
  • Today I experienced one of those all too familiar exchanges that fellow adults with T1D can relate to: explaining our type of diabetes to uneducated folks that think they know what disease we have and how it can best be treated. 


    When I mentioned my “type 1 / juvenile” diabetes today, I was met with a sympathetic glance by a gentleman in the swimming pool.  I was told that his father died from diabetes but he had been a smoker and overweight. 


    I nodded and returned the sympathetic look.  He then told me that I was doing the right thing by exercising and if I ate right I could manage it just fine.  Big sigh. “Well, no, with my type I have to take insulin.  It’s an autoimmune condition which destroyed all of my insulin producing cells.”   I went on to explain that T1D makes up only about 5% of diabetics, so what most people consider as “diabetes” is actually the metabolic condition known as Type 2. 

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    These situations are few and far between for me.  I suppose that’s because most of the folks I interact with on a daily basis know quite a bit about my diabetes.  Perhaps if I was in the position to educate people about the various types of diabetes more often, I’d embrace this opportunities more.


    The thing I took away from this today is perhaps a lesson for everyone.  If someone tells you about something they’re quite knowledgeable about (be it a disease, scholarly topic, hobby, whatever), rather than respond by demonstrating all of your limited experience and knowledge about said topic, why not ask questions? 


    Since I used the descriptors “type 1” and “juvenile” when I mentioned my diabetes, that’s a great opening for someone to ask, “Type 1? What does that mean?” 


    Wouldn’t we all appreciate that response?

Published On: May 09, 2013