Can People with Type 1 Diabetes Learn from Type 2s?

May 16th, 2010

Before you answer the question think about this quote,  “If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself “ - Confucius

Last month I was interviewed for an article “What People with Type 1 Diabetes can Learn from Type 2s.” The article written by Clay Wirestone, for DiabetesHealth, evoked a vicious and vitriolic response from the Type 1 readership.

After reading the article several times (didn’t want to miss anything) I was convinced that the other readers missed the point that Clay was trying to make. So, I thought (not in Clay’s defense because I’m sure he can hold his own) I would comment on the article from an educator point of view, using  the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) self management behavior strategies, known as the AADE 7™ Self Care Behaviors.

These self-care behaviors are the same regardless of the type of diabetes you have.

  1. Healthy eating
  2. Being active
  3. Monitoring
  4. Taking medication
  5. Problem solving
  6. Reducing risk
  7. Healthy coping

Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, Clay was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 24 years ago. He also recognizes “that it can be easy to build up a shell and think that no one understands the disease the way you do. Especially if you deal with health care professionals who aren’t that informed — which can be the case in some under-served and rural communities.”

The following are Clay’s lessons that Type 2s can teach Type 1s.

Taking a wake-up call

It’s their own willpower

Certainly willpower has nothing to do with a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes. However, how you accept your disease diagnosis can be influenced by willpower. Healthy coping is acceptance of the disease diagnosis and being motivated to do everything you can to keep your diabetes in control.

To the treadmill

Rededicate yourself to the basics”

The benefits of Being Active go far beyond prevention of type 2 diabetes. Regular physical activity can lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, while increasing your good cholesterol. It lowers your risk of heart disease and stroke, it keeps your heart and bones strong and your joints flexible. You will also have more energy, less stress and a clearer mind!

No change is too small

“Type 1 diabetics surely know not to drink sugared sodas.”  

Diabetic or not – no one needs to drink large amounts of sugared drinks. Healthy Eating, controlling portion sizes and learning the best times to eat are the cornerstone to managing diabetes. By making healthy food choices children and teenagers with diabetes will grow and develop as they would if they didn’t have diabetes.

Head back to class

“Extra communication with professionals can only help your control.”

Diabetes education classes can assist people with diabetes in Problem Solving. You can learn about the effect of food on your blood glucose levels. Diabetes educators can help you identify barriers to healthy eating such as environmental triggers and emotional factors. Classes can also help get you up to date on the latest equipment choices and selection, timing and frequency of testing and how to interpret results.

Catch some Zs

“Lack of sleep equals high blood pressure, obesity and Type 2 diabetes risk.”

Sleep affects every aspect of our being. Part of Healthy Coping with diabetes or any chronic disease is getting sufficient amounts of rest and relaxation. Sleep allows the physical body to regenerate itself. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that most adults need 7 -9 hours of sleep every day.

Don’t let it slow you down

“Don’t let the disease become your life.”

Diabetes is not just a chronic disease it is a daily disease. And yes when you get up in the morning you have diabetes and when you go to bed at night you still have diabetes. But don’t make diabetes your enemy. Think of it as your companion that will travel with you on the journey to the rest of your life. You are not a diabetic. You are a person full of life, with hopes and dreams – and you happen to have diabetes.

Now answer the question. Can People with Type 1 Diabetes Learn from Type 2s?

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