Double Diabetes Trouble

It’s time to talk about something I’ve been skirting around. We all know I’ve had type 1 diabetes ever since I was 8 years old. But do I need to face that I also have type 2?

Do I?

It’s not the most uncommon thing. A lot of type 1 diabetics develop insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is what defines type 2 diabetes. So are these insulin resistant type 1’s also type 2’s?  This is often called double diabetes, and sometimes type 3 (but this is a title that scientists want to give to Alzheimer’s since Alzheimer’s is caused from insulin resistance in the brain?…but I don’t know anything about this topic).

People will argue that the causes for insulin resistance in type 1’s is not usually the same cause as in type 2’s, though. Many type 1 diabetics experience short spurts of insulin resistance now and then. But it goes away when the underlying cause (illness, stress, menstruation, etc.) goes away. But sometimes it doesn’t go away and the type 1 now has to live with type 2 as well.

Does having type 1 diabetes increase one’s risk of developing type 2?  I doubt it, but I think I’ll study up on this more.

Believe it or not, this is a bit of a heated topic. Many people believe that type 1’s with insulin resistance are not sufferers of type 2 as well, but that it is just a side effect or another complication of type 1. But there are those that believe both types can occur in the same person.

Well, let’s talk about my experience. This is MY blog after all and I have never intended it to be so much an educational blog as a personal experience blog.

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 8. I come from a family of type 1’s, there are six of us total. Type 2 also runs on both sides of my family, mostly older males.

For as long as I can remember I have always required more insulin than my brother or father. This was always blamed on my own personal eating and activity habits. But at times it was blamed on the fact that I’m female and for some reason that makes a difference.

I didn’t know it at the time (and still can’t prove it) but I’m sure that the time I developed PCOS was when I entered puberty. PCOS causes insulin resistance. At the time I entered puberty I began to gain way too much weight and also began to need even more insulin.

I have always had trouble keeping my blood sugar down. Whether I was trying or not to take care of my diabetes, my blood sugar was always stubborn.

Nobody ever considered I might be insulin resistant or might have another issue like PCOS. They were content to blame my poor control on me and only me. I was simply a bad diabetic.

Shame on me.

Insulin resistance didn’t get mentioned at all between me and any doctor until 2007. I was experiencing really bad calf pain whenever I walked and I also had some weird skin discoloration on my shins and forearms. I went to my primary doctor and among other things she said I was probably insulin resistant (type 3, she called it). Nothing was done about it at the time.

Between 2007 and 2014 things just spiraled farther and farther into hell. My weight was stuck at a too high number, but at least it wasn’t rising. When I made a point to be really super active I would manage to lose a few pounds. But I could never keep up with that kind of activity so I would just gain again.

I had no insurance and no money so checking my BG’s and seeing a doctor of any kind was out of the question. My diet was carbolicious because carbs are cheap and easy…the whores of nutrition.

In 2013 I got insurance once more and immediately went to the doctor. During this year I would end up having triple bypass heart surgery. Heart disease is a common complication of uncontrolled type 1 diabetes, and also of long term insulin resistance.

I remember a lot during 2013- now, being asked by several of my doctors if I am type 2. I always wonder why they ask me this when they know I’m type 1.

It wasn’t until the beginning of 2015 that I finally saw an endocrinologist who was willing to look at the whole picture, run tests, listen to me, and come to a real answer and develop a plan of action to fix my lifelong struggles with weight and high BG.

It was discovered that I do have PCOS – I was put on Metformin and birth control pill.

Since I’ve been working really, really hard to get my BG’s under control my insulin resistance has become obvious. No question about it!

Because I’m not overeating on a regular basis, I keep a low calorie and low carb diet, I should not need much insulin and I should be losing weight!

Nope, I still need tons of insulin to keep my BG normal, and I’m gaining weight!

My doctor agreed to increase my Metformin dose, and put me on Farxiga (I thought she wasn’t going to order it yet, but she did).

So, the evidence suggests I have always been insulin resistant. But we can’t be sure because for the first 25ish years of my life with type 1 I was rebellious and didn’t try to take care of myself, so the evidence is muddled.

In any case I know now what my trouble is and it feels really good and hopeful to finally have answers and be doing what needs to be done.

I really hope a few months from now I can be writing about my huge weight loss and wonderful A1c!

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Author: Tamra K. Garcia

Stephen King says to "Write what you know." I know diabetes, I know me; so this is what I write about.

4 thoughts on “Double Diabetes Trouble”

  1. I did not know it is possible to have both at the same time. I know insulin resistance can be a problem. I think I might be experiencing that problem as well. FML

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story. My daughter was dx’d with T1 at age 11, & with PCOS 2 years later. While there is much debate about the subtypes & whether or not a PWD can have both ‘types’, 2 endos & her gyn (she specializes in treating PCOS & D) agree that my daughter could very well have the T2 genes (it’s absolutely rampant in my husband’s family) as well as inherited autoimmunity from my family. Without genetic testing, which we can’t afford, we may never know for sure. One thing is certain, her T1 has never followed the rules, & management is extremely hard.

    Several articles have mentioned the increase in rates of PCOS in girls & women with T1, but finding others has been quite a challenge. I look forward to following your blog & story.

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  3. Despite the latest struggles you’ve had, we’re happy to see that you’ve got an endocrinologist now that’s working (or seems to be). I wanted to stop by and tell you that we hope that you and your family have a beautiful Christmas and a blessed New Year!! — Jackie & Dee @ diabeticneeds.org

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