Halle Berry: T1DM confusion
Halle Berry's confusing interview
Book titles, pundits, and the public use the blanket term diabetes when they are talking specifically about type two diabetes. They boast of
cures for diabetes when no such thing is available or possible for people with T1DM.
I don't want to say that the public is ignorant of the difference between type one and type two diabetes, so let me be kind and say there is confusion and misinformation out there. Type two diabetes accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all cases of diabetes, so it's natural that people say diabetes when they're talking about type two diabetes (T2DM).
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I've noticed this confusion up close. Someone once told me,
Cranberry juice cures diabetes. Your daughter just has to drink cranberry juice.
Another time, a woman asked me,
Is your daughter overweight? Is she careless about what she eats? That's probably why she has diabetes.
My daughter is slim; she was even slimmer before being diagnosed with type one diabetes. She likes cranberry juice, but not it cannot cure type 1 diabetes, nor will it cure type 2 diabetes, though it is no doubt a good beverage.
To be completely clear and categorical: there is no cure for T1DM. It's a disease that requires lifelong treatment, care, and attention.
The confusion in the public mind between type one and type two diabetes is not helped when those who should know better add to misunderstanding. I am thinking of remarks made by Halle Berry, a famous diabetic, who claimed to have been cured of type one diabetes and insulin dependence.
Berry said (see the YouTube clip on this page) she had upgraded from type 1 to type 2 diabetes. In her own words, she
weaned herself off insulin.
This prompted annoyance among diabetics and professionals in the field.
Had Berry discovered a cure for T1DM? Of course not, but what would happen if young, impressionable people with type one diabetes believed you could wean yourself off insulin via diet, exercise, or lifestyle changes? The results would be disastrous.
To be kind and understanding to Halle Berry, she was probably misdiagnosed as type one. Later, she was correctly diagnosed as type 2.
She must know it is impossible to
wean yourself off insulin. It is impossible to go from type 1 to type 2.
We have to understand too that Berry works in an intensively image-conscious, rumor-driven, and risk averse industry.
Studio executives panic when they hear the words
disease, collapse, coma, intensive care, incurable.
On hearing that Berry had diabetes and collapsed on the set of tv show Living Dolls, they probably started worrying about insurance issues, her reliability on set, whether it was worth taking the risk of contracting her for a movie. No, no, better play safe with Angela Bassett, Vivica Fox, or Nia Long.
In order to protect herself and career, Berry might have been advised -- we can only speculate -- to say her condition is not as serious as once thought. This protects her, but spreads confusion and sadness among diabetics who had hoped she would a responsible role model for her condition.
But the facts remain. T1DM cannot be cured. It is treated by lifelong taking of insulin, either by injection or pump. It cannot be
upgraded to type two diabetes. A type one diabetic cannot wean herself off insulin.
No matter how carefully you diet, no matter how good your fitness program, both of which are very important, a type one diabetic cannot eliminate insulin dependency.
But that is not to say that people with type one diabetes are riskier to work with than someone with type two diabetes or no diabetes at all.
A person with type one diabetes who takes care of her condition by monitoring blood glucose, who is reliable about insulin treatment, and leads a healthy lifestyle can make a fantastic contribution in whichever career they choose.
By David Hay Jones