James Lancaster was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes as a child, and while he’s learned to manage his blood sugar, he’s now struggling to control his anger.
Lancaster, like many Type 1 Diabetics, is tired of having to explain the dramatic differences between his disease and Type 2 Diabetes. The cause of the former remains unknown, while the latter is the product of poor lifestyle choices, including excessive consumption of refined sugars and lack of exercise.
“Whenever I have to check my blood sugar, my friends start doing Wilford Brimley impressions and asking how fast my Rascal Scooter can go,” Lancaster explained. “Whoever gave these diseases the same name deserves to be punched in the face.”
Not all of Lancaster’s frustration comes from human interactions.
“Because I’ve put the word ‘diabetes’ into the search field on my computer a few times, most of the advertisements I see on google and Facebook are for prosthetic legs or sugar-free Fig Newtons. It’s really depressing.”
Lancaster is not alone. Type 1 Diabetics across the country recently circulated a petition asking decision-makers at the ADA (American Diabetes Association), NIH (National Institutes of Health) and IDF (International Diabetes Federation) to “revise the names of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes to more accurately reflect the nature of each disease.” As an example, the petition offers that the unique nature of Type 1 Diabetes would be better reflected in a name such as “Autoimmune Beta Cell Apoptosis”, while the unique nature of Type 2 Diabetes in a name such as “Fatty McLoves-sugarosis.”
So far, the movement has gained little to no traction, leaving diabetics like Lancaster subject to misunderstandings.
“When I have family over, I spend most of our conversations trying to convince them that my diabetes is not the same as my grandmother’s. When I start trying to explain that grandma’s insulin resistance and diabetes was the result of a lifetime of sitting around, eating pie and watching daytime television, my family freaks out and starts yelling.”
Lancaster says he doesn’t even bother to argue anymore.
“I just smile and nod.”