Salud Saturday: Clearing up misunderstandings about diabetes

Comparing Apples and Oranges - © Photowitch |

Comparing Apples to Oranges - © Photowitch |

Guest post by Christina Elizabeth Rodríguez (@kikisbetes)

There’s an issue out there among people with diabetes and it’s not very prevalent in the Latino community, but it’s out there. There is currently an issue with the names Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, or just saying “diabetes” in general. Let me explain. Let’s bring this down to a level where people can simply understand what I’m talking about without all the technical jargon.

When I tell people that I have diabetes, they think I’m talking about Type 2. “But you’re so young! Tan jovencita y flaca, como es que tienes diabetes?” Yeah, I know, I know. How could someone that looks like me have this epidemic that’s taking over the world? Easy, I have Type 1 which is also known as Diabetes Mellitus, which is also known as Juvenile Diabetes. Mine is an autoimmune disease that cannot be cured, although there have been some pretty hefty enhancements.

What people also don’t know is that it IS possible to develop Type 1 diabetes later in life. People have been as old as 40 and diagnosed with Type 1, which is usually associated with children. Interesting, eh? So the fact that this disease can develop at any age eliminates the idea that it’s only a juvenile disease. It’s developed into more than that.

Type 2 is the one that’s hitting the world at large due to genetics, eating habits and health concerns. It’s also tied in to cardiovascular diseases, high cholesterol and blood pressure. This is due to insulin resistance, or the fact that your cells don’t respond properly to the insulin the body is producing. But like Type 1, Type 2 can also be found in children and young adults. See this tricky, sticky situation?

So what’s the problem? Suddenly, people with Type 1 diabetes are being judged. People think that because you have diabetes, you don’t take care of yourself or you just don’t want to. Trust me; some of the healthiest people I know have Type 1 diabetes. This is also the problem of people being entrometidos. They don’t mind their own business and just because they see it on the news or have heard about some new development out there to treat the disease, they think they know how to cure your disease. Too bad that’s not the case. There’s quite a big misunderstanding of the differences in diabetes types. If only people read my blog!

So the discussion is out there: What do you call ours versus theirs? One person gently suggested, “Don’t waste money on deciding on a new name! Just find a cure!” Ultimately, that is the goal for Type 1. Just give us a cure. The interesting part of all of it is that the reason why we have this disease is because our body doesn’t produce one critical (very critical) hormone, which is why we have to manual give it to ourselves. Simple as that, but you know that it’s much more difficult because of all my blogs you’ve read, right?

I think the best question for people to ask when they hear that someone has diabetes (and may not LOOK like they have diabetes) is, “What type of diabetes do you have?” As surprising as it sounds, there are more than two types. It’s the same with being Latino, right? It’s not the problem of people wanting to know about our culture, the problem is just asking the right questions. Pues, here I am, telling you the right question to ask. And I’m sure people will feel a little more at ease if someone decides to take an interest. I know I do. I’m not ashamed and I’m not afraid of talking about it. If anything, talking about it keeps me in check.


Christina is a writer who lives in Chicago. She has a Master’s in journalism from the UIUC and writes non-fiction, fiction and poetry. You may find her inspired musings on life, media and music at Mine & Mine Only. Christina is a Type I #diabetic and she writes about living with the disease at theDiabetes Types A Blog.  You may also know her as @kiki416.

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1 Comment
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