"But... You're not fat?": Understanding differences between Type One Diabetes and Type Two Diabetes
Updated: Feb 13
While I was trying to determine exactly what I wanted to write this blog post about, I was sitting in between my roommate, Bryson, and one of his friends. Bryson had recently hooked up with a girl that his friend, was apparently, in love with. This situation was entirely over complicated and extremely awkward. I’m not sure why they made me stay, in the room, but it was possible that they didn’t want a fight to break out. Anyways, I was stuck there, trying to think of a relatable topic to educate y'all on. The complexity of the issue on hand, that Bryson was trying to navigate, made me think about the most complicated issues involved with Diabetes. The number one being, all diabetics tend to be generalized and classified as type two diabetics. This generalization leads Type Two Diabetes (T2D) to be the most prominent source of diabetes related humor. Don’t get me wrong, T2D jokes are one of my favorites, due to how easy they are to make. However, diabetes is a very broad term, and there are differences between each type.
A majority of the public has no idea, exactly what diabetes is, and would be indefinitely perplexed if you told them there are different types. This means the likelihood of running into someone who is ignorant, when it comes to diabetes, is much more probable than finding a person who's knowledge is adequate. One quick fact, to add to your diabetes arsenal, is that Type Two Diabetics make up the largest percentage of the diabetic community. This is a prominent cause for why all diabetics tend to be put in to a single group.
Another source of inspiration originated from the Comedian, Christophe Jean, who practically summarized everything I previously knew about diabetes in the following TikTok.
Click this link to view a TikTok of one of the funniest diabetes bits you have ever seen.
Like many others, I just accepted the idea, that people with T2D were over weight. I also thought someone, who has Type One Diabetes (T1D), just had to deal with this reputation. This reputation unfairly references type two diabetics. In reality, there are an infinite amount of reasons someone could be diagnosed with Diabetes. Even today, scientists are still making efforts to be cognizant of other potential causes.
If you’re lazy, like me, then I doubt you viewed the previous link, but hopefully you still end up doing so, because Jean is hilarious. Just in case, I will sum it all up real quick, by giving one of his final jokes in his set. Christophe Jean said, after a long series of other diabetes jokes, in both a funny and sarcastic tone, that we should bully all of the type one diabetics. Jean says to do this because diabetics, with type one, are the ‘genetic weaklings.’ However, the type two diabetics have ‘earned it’.
Pretty funny, right? If not, and you are offended, then I doubt you actually watched it 🤷♂️
This joke might seem insensitive to some but there is a Taoist story, of how a man starts to laugh, the day of his wife's passing. The man wasn’t laughing because he was happy his wife died, but because he was using humor as an outlet for all the negative components, in his life. Humor has the capability to help relieve any sort of stress, one might be feeling, in a healthy way. I try to find sources and materials that put this practice in place, by spreading humor like this bit from Christophe Jean, to help others learn more about everything the diabetes community struggles with.
First when we try to understand the differences, in the individual types, we need to understand what qualifies a condition as “diabetes”. The term, diabetes, refers to a long lasting condition where the body is no longer able to produce insulin on its own, or it can’t process the insulin that it does produce. This definition surprisingly opens the door for a ridiculous amount of different diabetic categories, which can be found listed on the website, DiabeteStrong.com. This website also explains how 98% of diabetes cases fall under one of the three following categories.
The three most common types of diabetes are: T1D, T2D, and Gestational Diabetes. In the diabetes community, consisting of over five hundred and thirty seven million people, worldwide, T2D is the most common. Making up anywhere from ninety to ninety five percent of the entire population. Which then brings up the question, why T1D is called “Type One?” This is a fair question, since, type one diabetics only make up somewhere between five to ten percent of the entire community. The third type, Gestational Diabetes, is only acquired by women whom are pregnant and ends after childbirth. When this phenomenon occurs, both the child and mother are more likely to develop diabetes later in life.
One of the most popular rumors, that pretty much everyone swears by, is people with T2D are able to cure it. While yes, it is possible to revert back to a regular lifestyle, where they aren’t dependent on any form of diabetic medication; T2D is classified as something permanent. The term given by Joslin.org, when a type two diabetic’s body is capable of being self sufficient, in regards to insulin, is called complete remission.
While this seems like a cool idea, it isn’t possible for all type two diabetics to lose weight, and have a fairly regulated blood sugar, without the need of any medical assistance. This is because there are many other possible contributing factors, like how the individual developed T2D, or the severity of the case on hand. However, it is widely known, the most popular cause is due to heavy weight. The other causes for T2D are, a majority of the time, related to someone aging, or by a family member passing on a pre-existing T2D gene. This is why every single person, with a grandparent, tells you how one of them has had or still has diabetes. They are trying to relate, and want you to know that diabetes runs in their family as well, even though they are different types.
Hearing the phrase “Oh, you’re diabetic? So is my…”, followed by some old as shit relative, isn’t one of the only things that tends to get under a type one diabetic's skin. Another is “Did you hear there is going to be a cure for diabetes in the next ten years?” This exact phrase has been said since at least the late 80’s, made evident by my father hearing it, when he was also diagnosed with T1D. As of right now, we’re still waiting to hear when the exact moment, this ten year period starts, since a cure isn't readily available for the public. But, in the New York Times article titled, “A Cure for Type 1 Diabetes? For One Man, It Seems to Have Worked.” We learn this incredibly inaccurate estimation, of a ten year time period, began around fifteen years ago. Providing the opportunity, for this man, to be cured in November of 2021.
Experts in the diabetes field are very excited about this incredible discovery. However, they believe we should proceed with caution. This reaction is appropriate, because if it keeps working, this breakthrough is as big as the development of the first blood glucose meter. Some might say that due to this biological innovation, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel, to create a sense of hope. Personally, this statement still seems to be unfair. It is believed when the practice of this potential 'permanent' fix, involving stem cells, is released to the public. The price is projected to be outrageously expensive.
This is because of how the pharmaceutical industry takes advantage of people, who have to take their medication due to necessity. This growing suspicion has led to a conspiracy theory, saying these companies have never actually wanted to discover a cure, and plan to keep making money on temporary remedies. An interesting study, to do some personal research into, is the average price of diabetes supplies to produce, compared to how much it is then sold for. Everyday, we feel the tight tensions from the economic burden, imposed by the big pharmaceutical companies. However, diabetics are strong, and they will always have hope. Every single one of them is hoping for a cure without much confidence in Big Pharma. Not a single diabetic would ever wish their condition, irregardless of which type of diabetes they have, on anybody.
Through my research I discovered that the term, diabetes, refers to a much larger idea. What diabetes actually is, is a connection, everyone with some form of insulin deficiency has the ability to relate with. The main differences between the types of diabetes are how they originate. T1D and T2D have been the main focus of this post, which can easily cause more confusion, because of the complexities involved with how they start. The easiest way to remember their origins, like everything else, is to start from the basics and work your way up. In this case, the basics is enough knowledge to get you through most of the diabetic related conversations, you’ll find yourself in on a daily basis.
Actually, from the basics, and by scratching this topics surface, in regards to how each type of diabetes starts, we learn a couple of the most interesting details, regarding these diseases. First, we still aren’t completely sure as to how T1D actually begins. This is part of the explanation, as to why, today we still don't have access to a cure. Fortunately, the technology that has been released by these pharmaceutical companies, has shown an increase in the life expectancy of your typical type one diabetic.
The second fact which seems ironic, given its name of "Type Two" Diabetes, leads to a false implication that T2D is less popular than type one. One thing that all diabetics can agree on, is that whenever the term “diabetes” is brought up, irregardless of the type, usually the conversation isn’t shown in a positive light. These conversations, typically revolve around people with T2D, mentioning their weight and some stereotype. An example of a stereotype, which is for the most part false, is the 'inability of all diabetics to eat sugar". Just like the consuming of everything, keep it in moderation. However, T2D being the most popular form of diabetes is not necessarily a negative thing. It is important to remember that people with T2D are able to reach a relatively "normal" level of insulin processing, if they can maintain a healthier lifestyle. Luckily a recent trend towards the desire to lead a healthier life has been increasing. If this trend continues, hopefully, we will see a decrease in complications regarding diabetes.
Unfortunately, recent research has shown the number of people with diabetes is increasing. Hopefully, the future will prove to be more promising for our overall health. Since the pharmaceutical companies can't seem to find a cure quite yet, if we follow the trend of development in science, then we can find some hope. As of right now, the technology we have at our disposal, is multiple times better than when I was first diagnosed. I am next to no help, when it comes to the continuation in the development of science. Right now, I do what I can, by spreading awareness and information to those who are willing to listen. Help me accomplish this goal, by educating me, yourself. I have easily learned more from other diabetics than I have from the internet, so send me something diabadass. All I ask is that you do your best, when it comes to showing your creativity and humor. Personally, I think Diabetes might need to be satirized a little bit more. Nevertheless, who knows? Maybe we will have a cure within the next ten years ;) All I can say is, “Good luck!”
Thanks so much for your time!
Go Check out our other diabadass content throughout the rest of our website. A good place to start is by checking out other content sent in by other Diabetics under, Poetry by You, or by reading our our other Blog Posts.