Friday, 18 May 2007

Ignorance: is it bliss? Stupidity?! Or no big deal?

Diabetes is a tricky thing and doesn't always make sense, but does it ever surprise you how little people know about it?

I try to be patient, but it still drives me completely batty when other people Just Don't Get IT.

This afternoon I went to have blood taken for my A1c test and the lovely lady who took my blood was very conversational. Our chat went something like this:

LL (lovely lady): I bet you hate having to do this every three months!
Me: Well, no, I don't mind at all - I like to know how I'm doing, especially if I make any changes.
LL: Ah, good! Have you always been a Type 1 diabetic?
Me: Naa I was a late starter, only had it a few years.
LL: Were you always a type 1?
Me: uhhhh
LL: You didn't start with type 2, you went straight to insulin?
Me after moments of not knowing quite how to reply: You can't change from one or the other... you can get a wrong diagnosis, but if you're a type 1 you stay a type 1, and the same for T2
LL: Oh no, some people start as type 2 and then go onto insulin
Me: Once a type 2, always a type 2... even if they're on insulin.
LL: noo... I... um...
Me: The difference is that T1 is auto-immune. It's all about the antibodies.
LL: (looking like she totally didn't get it, and really didn't think I knew what I was talking about) Well, you learn something new every day!

I guess it's no big deal if she never ever understands the difference, but as a woman who is likely to meet a lot of us D's every 3 or 6 months, it would be nice if she understood.

Admittedly we only talked for as long as it took for her to drain a tiny pot of blood from me - less than a minute I'd say. I would have loved to have completely educated her! But of course, I can't change everyone's views, and she'd probably never take in what I said anyway.

I was out at a meeting the other night and a friend of the family was there too. He's a type 2 diabetic. We were offered hot drinks and asked how we have them. "No Sugar," he says, "I'm diabetic". And he reaches for a biscuit before sitting down.


Now I'm not saying that D's aren't allowed to eat biscuits, but to have said no to sugar, and taken the first bite of a biscuit (urr - cookie, to my American visitors) all in the same few seconds... Surely that's a bit, well... I'm kinda lost for words on that!

My pet peave is people confusing Type 1 and type 2. In a logical sense I DO understand their confusion. They should have totally different names to save hassles. I'm sometimes tempted to say I have a Pancreas Disorder, or Failed Islets Syndrome...

My second peave is people who knew someone who had diabetes and died, or lost a leg, or 'only had the mild type', or went blind because they ate cheesecake, etc etc etc. People have come to some weird conclusions about diabetes over the years... I just don't want to be compared to Great Uncle Bob, or your cousins cat who takes two shots a day, ok? Diabetes treatment has progressed a LONG way and I like to think I have a hope of living a normal life and hanging around long enough to be a doting Nana! I don't want to hear your horror stories!

It's fairly early days for me, having only been a diabetic for 2 (and a half, but who's counting) years. I'm sure I'll come across a lot of crazy comments... and when I do, I can only hope I'll keep my cool, try to educate a little, and not snap anyone's head off...

I will now be biting my nails waiting for the hba1c results!
My guestimate: 6.4 - 6.7 ish. (Last two tests were 6.3, and I feel I've been a little slack sometimes lately... but no huge change, I HOPE!)
My dream result: 5.6 - 5.8.

The waiting begins.


Simon said...

Oh for some education!

LL's reaction is all to common I fear. I've lost count of the number of people who I've tried to give a little knowledge of diabetes to.

I'm even writing a little handout of sorts - "The Low, The High And The Sweet" (with apologies to Clint Eastwood).

If there's anything I can do to increase awareness and knowledge of diabetes then I'm up for it!

kitter said...

well said, Em... and timely!

jump on DF.. I had a narky day today!!

God luck on the A1C!!


jill. said...

I hear you!!

I know some other type 2s and I get so frustrated with people lumping us into the same category when it comes to food and control.

Thanks for doing this post, I've been battling D-ignorance all week and I'm glad someone out there understands.

Crossing my fingers for the A1C :)


BetterCell said...

The medical nomenclature is all wrong.
Type 2 Diabetes should really be called IRD(Insulin Resistance Disease), which it is.
Type 1 Diabetes is of course T1DM.
There is too much politics and laziness involved regarding the name.
I never refer to Type 2 as Diabetes, rather IRD.