They Get It


The soapbox I stood on while writing this post. (Photo credit: Shuttleworth Foundation)

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a list of annoying things people say about type 1 diabetes. About halfway through the list I read this one: “I have type 2 diabetes, so I understand.” Evidently, the compilers considered this an annoying statement since people with type 2 diabetes often control their blood sugar with “only” diet, exercise, and a pill, and, therefore, can’t really understand.

Hogwash, I say. Absolute hogwash.

I had a chat the other day with a woman with type 2 diabetes about how tired high blood sugar makes us feel. I’m fairly certain that she understands how awful that feels.

The only person who understood the temporary near-blindness I experienced shortly after my diagnosis was a man with type 2 diabetes. A similar thing happened to him shortly after he was diagnosed.

A close friend’s mother has type 2 diabetes. She was one of the few people who understood learning to count carbs.

And honestly, some of the people around me who seem to “get it” the most don’t have diabetes at all. One has multiple food allergies and chronic migraines triggered by everything from deli meat to artificial sweeteners. One has an undiagnosed condition. Another has multiple food allergies and at least one undiagnosed chronic health condition, if not more. These three girls understand the emotional toll that a chronic health condition can take at times, even if they don’t live with the same one I do.

The people I know with type 2 diabetes may not deal with the same details. They may not need to check their blood sugar as often; they may control their blood sugar with diet and exercise and a pill rather than with insulin; they may not deal with bent cannulas or severe hypoglycemia. But they do understand managing a chronic condition and the fact that they’re not “my type” doesn’t mean the sympathy and support they offer to me is any less real.

They get it.


About Nel

As a graduate education student, I've come to the conclusion that teaching requires an addiction to caffeine. My favorite caffeinated beverages are coffee, tea, and diet Coke. And when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in January 2012, I also came to the conclusion that living requires insulin. I blog about my busy life juggling graduate education courses, a teaching assistantship in my University's English department, and my recent type 1 diabetes diagnosis the The Clumsy Juggler. I do not live in New York City.

4 responses »

  1. I really, really appreciate this post. There are differences– yes, but there are also similarities. I wish that more people would see that, as I think by joining together people with all types of diabetes could be a really great support system for one another.

    • I completely agree. I also think there’s some arrogance in the idea that someone can’t offer me valid sympathy because they haven’t experienced the exact same struggle that I have. Type 2 diabetes isn’t easier to deal with just because it’s different!

  2. Awesome post here. I’m with you Nel, I think Type 2 is harder to deal with since pills don’t work the same way insulin does. They understand!!!

    • WordPress needs a “like” button for comments! 🙂 I think many people underestimate how difficult managing blood sugar with diet and exercise is too: it’s more than just watching what you eat.

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