Diabetes Type What?
Ok, so we got through all the science going on in my body explaining what could be going on.
So what? That doesn’t tell me what my doctor meant. What does Type 2 mean? What about Type 1? How do I know what I have?
Your provider probably told you which kind you have but you were so stunned by the diagnosis that nothing else registered. That is super normal and part of the reason I write these blurbs. When you’ve had time to process the diagnosis, now you have questions. So, what’s the difference between Type 1 and Type 2?
It’s all about that sciency stuff from the last two blurbs. You didn’t think I wrote all that for kicks, did you? Type 1: primarily genetic (but there are always exceptions to the rule). That is why people have always thought it was a disease of childhood; kids diagnosed with diabetes are usually Type 1. This is where the cells in your pancreas that actually make insulin die. Say what?! Yup. Often autoimmune, meaning your own body attacked and killed the insulin-producing cells. The takeaway, though, is that your body cannot make insulin at all. The problem isn’t the other cells not taking in insulin or not quite enough insulin available. This is straight up NO insulin being made! Remember no insulin = no food for cells = cells die = you die. Ugh. So what can we do about it? I mean, give you insulin; there are no other choices. That’s why Type 1 diabetics will take insulin shots for the rest of their lives. They can’t use many of the other diabetes drugs you hear about.
That doesn’t sound like what I have. I have to take a pill. Does that mean I have Type 2? And what is Type 2?
That’s complicated, but I promise to keep it basic. So basic in fact that people who know a lot about the disease will probably be mad that I’m simplifying it so much. But here we go. Type 2 diabetes *usually* means that there is insulin but your body can’t use it. Why? Lots of reasons. Everyone is different and the reason your body decided to stop using it could be any of a ton of reasons. The most common reasons are your pancreas stopped making enough insulin, you’re taking in so much sugar that the pancreas can’t keep up so it gets worn out, your cells stopped letting the insulin in, or the insulin isn’t really teaming up with the sugar. Trust me, these are not the only ways you develop Diabetes Type 2, but these are common ways. Notice a theme: insulin is there but not getting cells the fuel they need. That’s why people can take medications: they just need to boost their insulin levels or the cells’ use of what you have. Your insulin needs help working hard enough to keep up with your body’s needs.
Wait. My buddy had to do the shots first, but takes pills now. How does that work?
Sounds like your buddy had an insulin emergency. Sometimes people end up in the hospital because their blood sugar levels got SO high that they were doing damage to major organs. Remember how many organs are involved in making and using and dumping insulin and sugar? Well, your buddy’s organs were injured so bad he had scary symptoms and went to the ER. He probably started peeing and eating like crazy but kept losing a lot of weight, passed out, had belly pain and vomiting, got really dehydrated, turned yellow, or an assortment of other symptoms. Or maybe he had a heart attack. Sugar affects so many organs that there are many different possible symptoms. ANYWAY, it was so bad that they had to get insulin into him stat to bring down that blood sugar. He didn’t have time for a pill to work. Now he’s on pills and hopefully that will be enough for a long time.
So there is much more about Diabetes to know. So much more to learn just about the lifestyle! It’s so much more than just a disease. It can be overwhelming, but it is manageable. Your provider can be your partner in this so make sure you are part of a good team. And TAKE YOUR MEDICINE!
If you want more information, give us a call and we’d be happy to discuss it with you.