For Phyllis Kornluth, connecting with other adults with Type 1 has also been the key to her emotional well-being and ability to face the ongoing, daily demands of life with Type 1 diabetes. When she was first diagnosed, she recalls, “I really didn’t know what the difference was between the types of diabetes. I only knew that I wanted to find and connect with other people who were living with Type 1 diabetes, and I couldn’t find any!”
Since then, Kornluth has not only found other adults living with Type 1 diabetes, but she has also become a volunteer with Novo Nordisk’s Divabetic program, in which diabetes education is introduced in a makeover format. (While Divabetic’s outreach is aimed primarily at women with Type 2 diabetes, its events and programs are open — and welcoming — to women with any type of diabetes and to men, as well.) “It’s not only about diabetes,” Kornluth says about the makeover events. “It’s about fashion and makeup and feeling good about taking care of yourself.”
Becoming a blogger has given George Simmons a way to reach out to others who can understand his experiences. “Having an invisible disease is rough,” he says. Simmons blogs about his experiences at www.thebadblog.com (bad stands for “Born Again Diabetic”) and credits the online diabetes community and connections that he has made with other adults living with diabetes with giving him the support he needed to start taking care of his diabetes.
Making a difference Having to constantly educate others about diabetes and the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes can get annoying, but sometimes making the effort can feel worth it. Last spring, for example, I picked up a book by one of my favorite writers, New York Times Magazine reporter Michael Pollan. In the book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, Pollan notes that what Americans are eating and how they’re eating it (in front of TVs, in cars, etc.) is making them less healthy. I was agreeing and appreciating his well-written arguments until I got to a part in the book about the obesity epidemic and diabetes. He drew no distinction between Types 1 and 2 diabetes and even implicated insulin pump companies as benefiting economically from the obesity epidemic.
I was so upset that I wrote Pollan an e-mail message, as follows:
“Dear Mr. Pollan,
I am the author of Insulin Pump Therapy Demystified (Marlowe & Co, 2002) and I can assure you that the vast majority of pump users have Type 1 diabetes. That you include the insulin pump among technologies developed out of the obesity epidemic is absurd. The pump is the technology that has helped to keep Type 1 users alive and healthy. I could not have had two healthy pregnancies without it.
Please consider this point. I hope that you and no one in your family ever has to live with Type 1 diabetes and then deal with the media failing to distinguish the causality of these different types of diabetes.”
I was pleased to receive a prompt reply from Mr. Pollan, thanking me and letting me know that in the future, he would be more careful about making a distinction between the types of diabetes. It was a small victory in terms of educating a media representative about diabetes, but one that I was happy to win.