October 15, 2016

Diabetes Is Not Your Fault

The title of this blog is finally receiving the credit it deserves. More type 2 bloggers are writing about this because we see the need. Much (but not all) of the diabetes stigma is aimed at those of us with type 2 diabetes.

In a recent issue of Type 2 Nation an excerpt from Gretchen Becker's book - The First Year: Type 2 Diabetes, they rightly quote from her book the emotional minefield that comes with a diabetes diagnosis.

You have just been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. If you are like most people, you are probably in a state of shock.

When you got your diagnosis, your doctor probably told you many things about diets, drugs, insulin, glucose, carbohydrates, blood tests, avoiding this, and doing that, and you probably came out of the office with your head spinning, not remembering much of what the doctor said.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most people feel that way.

If no one in your family ever had diabetes, and especially if you’re thin and thought diabetes only happened to fat people, you’re probably especially puzzled. “What did I do wrong? Why is this happening to me?”

Sometimes a diagnosis comes like a thunderbolt on a sunny day. Sophie C. consulted a doctor about a toenail fungus, and he drew some blood for routine tests. “Next day the phone rang, and my doctor informed me quite bluntly that I was diabetic,” she said. “Talk about a slap in the face! I was scared out of my mind. There must be some mistake here. I wasn’t blind; my feet weren’t gangrenous. No family history of the disease, no warning signs (that I knew of at the time), not a clue.”

Or maybe you were expecting a diagnosis someday. You’ve got relatives with diabetes: your grandmother had diabetes and died from gangrene in her foot. Your father got it when he was 65 and died from a heart attack a few years later. If you’re also overweight, maybe you figured someday you’d get diabetes yourself. But you probably figured “someday” would be far in the future, when you were old. Not today. Not now.

A lot of people may tell you that if only you’d eaten less sugar, eaten less fat, exercised more, eaten more fiber, or smoked less, or done none of the things that 95 percent of the American population does, you wouldn’t have gotten diabetes. Especially if you’re overweight, because most people with Type 2 diabetes have a problem with weight, people will suggest that it’s your fault that you got diabetes because you let yourself get fat.

There’s so much to learn about diabetes, but you can’t learn it all at once. Trying to accept the diagnosis is enough for your first day. Here’s what you should remember as you deal with this: getting diabetes is not your fault.

In order to get diabetes, you need to have diabetes genes. One of the leading causes of your diabetes is a poor choice of ancestors. People without those genes can spend their lives lying around eating chips and watching TV. They’ll probably get fat, but they won’t get diabetes.

Having the genes, however, isn’t enough to give you the disease. Even if you have diabetes genes, if you live in an environment where you don’t get a lot to eat and you do hard physical labor all day, you still probably won’t get diabetes. Some people think the diabetes genes are thrifty genes that make your body use its food more efficiently, meaning that you can gain more weight with less food. In times of famine, this comes in handy, and when food was extremely scarce, your ancestors probably fared better and had more children than other families who didn’t have those genes.

But when your family moved to a different country or into a different type of lifestyle where food was plentiful and machines did all the work, those diabetes genes weren’t so handy after all. When food is limited, it doesn’t matter how hungry you are. You can’t eat enough. When food is readily available, having a good appetite can be a disaster.

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