I've been reading up on LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults) lately, and have come to a conclusion: I'm tired of quibbling about the scientific specs. To me, the term means just one important thing: it means I had this whole non-diabetic life until almost age 40, and then suddenly landed in the hospital and was thrust into the lifestyle of a person with type 1 diabetes. It changed everything.
I was too old to be a conventional type 1, and too thin/fit and too immediately ill to be diagnosed with type 2. To be honest, finding out about "LADA" had given me a home — a place to feel camaraderie, and less like the only freak on the planet to be diagnosed with "juvenile diabetes" at age 37. (Even the doctors who initially treated me seemed bewildered.)
But the more I read, the more it seems that researchers are squeezing me out of this group, too.
A new Diabetic Living article, featuring our very own D-blogger friend Cherise Shockley, states that LADA "is a term used in the medical community for slow-moving type 1 diabetes diagnosed in adulthood." It's defined there as: "an immune process that's not as quick as it is with type 1." What? So the speed of onset is the key here?
Indeed, reviewing this guest post from last Spring here at the 'Mine, I note that a top JDRF researcher says: "the key difference between type 1 diabetes and LADA is not the age of the person when they're diagnosed, but the gradual way the disease progresses. Whereas people with classical type 1 diabetes tend to be completely insulin-dependent within twelve months after diagnosis (usually less), people with LADA can often survive without artificial insulin for years."
This is not my experience at all! Mine was not a gradual process, but a three-week body purge (I lost 14 pounds in as many days). I was close to DKA and coma when I hit the ER. Naturally, they sent me home with insulin right away, and my "honeymoon" lasted less than a year.
According to this Australian LADA blogger, "The average time (for LADAs) to needing full replacement insulin is 6 years." Wow. That is different. No wonder these folks often get misdiagnosed as type 2 diabetics.
On top of all that, the JDRF scientist quoted here says: "there is research that shows a difference between type 1 and LADA. For example, we know that type 1 genes are different than type 2 genes. The gene that plays a role in LADA is a type 2 gene."
I guess according to the medical world, myself and others like me are just too-old type 1's after all. But I reject that. I reject being excluded from the LADA group: those of us whose understanding of the term means, "I suddenly became insulin-dependent as an adult."
Frankly, the idea of being kicked out of the LADA club kind of makes me want to cry. Where the heck do we fit in then, if not there?
I suppose I should spend some more time bonding with new gluten-free friends — those of us who can never, ever, walk in to a bagel store or sandwich shop again in our lives without tears in our eyes: we will NEVER eat those normal foods again.
Apologies if this all sounds like self-pity. I really hate falling into that pit. (Just the Monday morning doldrums here?)
Um, so looking on the bright side, I could say... what? Wouldn't it be boring if our ailments were too mainstream: we'd never have the impetus to rise to the occasion, right? ;)