Living with Type 1 Diabetes

NFL Player Misidentifies his Diabetes

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To make it in the NFL, Patrick Peterson has to remember a bewildering amount of plays, most of which are labeled with random numbers. He apparently is pretty good at it, too, as the former All-Pro cornerback signed a $70 million contract extension with the Arizona Cardinals in 2014.

That makes his momentary slip-up on his diabetes diagnosis all the more strange. In an August 3rd profile with the Arizona Republic, Peterson had some trouble remembering what type of diabetes he had. In that report, he said, “I had Type 1 so it was reversible and as of right now, I’m diabetes free.”

Peterson must have realized or heard about his mistake almost immediately. He quickly tweeted out later that day, “Wanna clear something up from earlier today. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, not Type 1. Guess that’s why my wife’s a doctor not me…”

For many in the sports world, it was a momentary blip during the early days of training camp. However, Peterson’s momentary misdiagnosis, especially since he used the word “reversible”, is sure to make him memorable to the diabetes online community for years to come.

To dismiss Peterson’s statement as a sign of unintelligence is, of course, unintelligent in itself. One does not master how to defend against complex offensive schemes at the highest level of football without having intelligence.

At the same time, it might be a mistake to dismiss Peterson’s utterance as a misstatement made in the chaos of preseason training. His diagnosis was a key development in his life in the past year. He began to show the ill effects of diabetes shortly after signing for big money, and it showed on the field. He went from being an elite defender to being a subpar one, and he was raked over the coals by football fans and sports radio talking heads for it. This season is meant to be a redemptive one for Peterson, as he now believes he has gotten his diabetes under control and regained his explosive quickness on the field. It would seem strange for a superman to misremember the name of his own personal kryptonite.

Of course it’s possible that Peterson wasn’t given enough information in his initial diagnosis to sear into his brain the difference between Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. This is something to which many people who receive a diabetes diagnosis can relate. Often, the diagnosis comes like a sudden thunderclap, and those who receive it must adjust rapidly to a new normal, often without the benefit of enough guidance from busy doctors. If this is the case with Peterson, it goes to show no one is immune; he is married to a physician and has medical staff who monitor his body to make sure he is able to perform at his peak.

Mistakes are opportunities to learn. Hopefully, Peterson’s mistake about his diabetes diagnosis will help to further the discussion between physicians and patients about the need to provide more information and more support on all forms of diabetes after the initial diagnosis.

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Craig Idlebrook is a past editor for Insulin Nation, Type 2 Nation, and Información Sobre Diabetes. He is now the community engagement and content manager for T1D Exchange.

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