Type 1 Diabetes

I chose to talk about type 1 diabetes because I believe that it is illness that harshly influenced by our culture today. Many people believe that there is only one type of diabetes and if they do know that there is a distinction, there is a skewed belief about which one is which. Type 1 diabetes, better known as type 1 diabetes mellitus, is where the body does not produce insulin and only 5% of people have this form of diabetes. The media also talks about diabetes as an epidemic in young people and tends to not talk about what are the causes and the effects of the diabetes. Diabetes has been deemed a disease of fat people and often times this is because of our culture projecting this idea onto our population. I believe that culture has a huge effect on every illness and diabetes has been very influenced by our culture. In the video, “A Day Living with Diabetes,” an 11-year-old girl talks about her normal day as a person with type 1 diabetes. The video especially focuses on the fact that she has to check her blood sugar six times a day and has to adjust her insulin pump for when she eats her meals. The video was created to show how people with type 1 diabetes live and how they function just as a normal person, just with some extra steps added to her regimen. The video was also a good video representation of a person with type 1 diabetes because, frequently, people with diabetes are seen as overweight and this is not always the case.

I think that it slightly affects the management and amount of treatment because there is not a great awareness of type 1 diabetes in our country and the belief that “if you’re not fat, then you don’t have it” makes it a little harder to pinpoint if you have type 1 diabetes. The fact that people are not thinking they have it is only one part of the problem of proper diagnoses. The media can influence doctors as well, and since type 1 diabetes is not as common as type 2 diabetes, they can overlook it sometimes, much like the patients they are taking care of.

I believe there is a great connection between belief and healing, because the state of mind of someone is sometimes what makes them better. This very example was shown several times in the movie, “Placebo: Cracking the Code,” especially when the man with chronic knee problems said that he felt a drop in his pain level after he received a non-existent surgery. The case of the woman who felt that her depression was cured by a placebo is also a great example of how placebo’s can make a large difference in someone’s state of mind. It seems that the belief of healing can actually change the state of mind so much that it leads to healing. I have personally had times in my life where a placebo effect has made me feel much better. It mostly occurs when I take a home remedy that does not have any proven medical influence, but is something that my family uses as a means to mask or heal the ailment.


“Type 1 Diabetes.” American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/type-1/ (accessed July 21, 2014).

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Kelly Delorme says:

    Growing up, I always knew what diabetes was, but I didn’t know that there was more than one type. It probably wasn’t until I reached high school that I really began to grasp the difference between type I and type II diabetes. Our culture has such a huge impact on what we learn and what we believe to be true. I always associated diabetes with obesity – it didn’t matter what type it was because I thought it was a “fat person” disease. The media, social institutions (like school) and my friends always confirmed what I thought to be true. I didn’t personally know anyone with type I or type II diabetes that caused me to question what I was being told. As I became more educated I realized that there type I diabetes and type II diabetes are very different. Now I have a greater biomedical understanding of diabetes and it is easy to distinguish between the two. Like Sultan said, type I diabetes is when the body does not produce insulin or it may produce very little insulin. It usually results when the body destroys the insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas. Type I diabetes is much less common than type II diabetes and it is often diagnosed in young children. Type II diabetes is when the body becomes insensitive and can’t properly use the insulin that is produces and it is the most common form a diabetes – type II diabetes is often known as the “fat person” diabetes. When I first began to learn to distinguish the types of diabetes, I thought that they would both be managed in the same way, but later, I learned that they have different management systems. Type II diabetes can often be managed through diet and exercise, while those with type I diabetes are reliant on insulin, meal planning and monitoring their blood glucose levels.

    I believe that perceptions of illness are vastly influence by friends, family and social institutions. Many of us trust what people tell us and we like to believe what our friends and family believe. Many people don’t get proper educations or post-secondary education so friends, family, and the media become the most common ways to gain an education, whether it is correct or not. In that way, it is extremely easy to be misinformed or misunderstand illness. After going through this weeks material I realized how much of an influence illness narratives also have on our understanding of illnesses. We often gain our information about illnesses from friends and family who are experiencing the illness so our knowledge is very culturally limited and contextualized through that cultures social expectations.

  2. Alexis Rife says:

    One of my best friends in middle school and high school, Maggie, has Type I diabetes and until she was diagnosed, I never realized how serious it really is. Before everything with happened with her, I thought diabetes was just something amiss in the body, similar to lactose intolerance, nothing dangerous. But I learned more about diabetes alongside my friend and gradually came to realize the real dangers of this disease. Type I diabetes is very serious and, if not carefully monitored and controlled, can lead to seizures and even death. I realize now that diabetes is not something to be taken lightly and can be a heavy burden, especially to adolescents, who are most commonly affected. Eventually all our friends at school became accustomed to Maggie testing her blood before eating at the lunch table or her OmniPod beeping in the middle of class because it needed to be changed. My mother is a nurse and also helped me to understand the struggles that Maggie must be going through and the great deal of impact that her diagnosis would have on her life. I learned to know what a high blood sugar number was, what a good range was and how to administer an insulin shot if her blood sugar got too low. Thankfully, it never came to that, but a few times, I witnessed Maggie go so low that she was shaking and could hardly talk. After this eye-opening experience and journey with my best friend, I will never again underestimate the power that Type I diabetes can hold over a person’s life.

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