Take a moment and clear your mind. Forget EVERYTHING you know or think you know about diabetes. Ready? Let’s go.
(all images in this post found from around the Internet)
Diabetes is a disorder involving the pancreas and endocrine systems of the body.
Type 1 diabetes is a condition that is formerly known in the medical world as juvenile onset diabetes due to it most commonly occurring in children and young adults. It is an autoimmune condition where the body for unknown reasons decides that the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin are a foreign body and destroys them. Type 1 diabetics then do not produce ANY insulin on their own and must rely on insulin injections to stay alive for the rest of their lives. Type 1 is only about 10% of all diabetes cases in the world.
This differs from type 2 diabetes because people with type 2 still produce their own insulin, but they are resistant to it and therefore cannot produce enough for their needs. Many times (but not always) type 2 diabetes develops in older, overweight adults. In some cases type 2 can be managed and alleviated by diet and exercise. Type 2 is often times genetic but is not autoimmune because the pancreas still produces insulin. Type 2 diabetes is roughly 90% of all cases of diabetes in the world.
I have type 1 diabetes. No amount of diet or exercise beforehand could have prevented it, and no amount of diet or exercise now will make it go away. For the rest of my life, I will need to give myself insulin. There is currently NO CURE for type 1 diabetes.
In order to stay alive I am currently hooked up 24/7 to an insulin pump, which allows me more flexibility in self-administering synthetic insulin than traditional syringes offer. However, I am still attached to a machine which is delivering a drug into my body that, when misdosed, can kill me. And I’m the one responsible for choosing the dosing. Yes, it really is as terrifying at times as it sounds.
Due to the fact that I already have one autoimmune condition, I am now at a greater risk for developing other autoimmune disorders including Hashimotos, Crohns, and more. I am also at risk for developing complications including neuropathy (damage of the nerve endings, specifically in the feet, hands and legs), blindness (due to damage of the blood vessels in the eyes), heart disease, and a slew of other things.
There isn’t one aspect of my life that isn’t affected by type 1 diabetes. And often times, not more than 10 minutes goes by at a time without thinking about this disease. It never takes a break. It is 24/7/365. Every single minute of every single day for the rest of my life.
So how does a typical day in my life go? Well, I wake up at 6:30am every morning, thankful that I did not die in my sleep this time. I check my blood sugar immediately, and then get ready for the day. I pack my lunch, conscious of how many carbs, protein, and fats are in every single item I pack. It’s taken a lot of trial and error to learn how my body processes different foods, and what things I can eat together with the least disastrous results. Then I go to work, and check my sugar before I have my mid-morning snack. Then I check it again right before lunch. Then sometimes I have a mid-afternoon snack, which requires another blood sugar check. Shortly after I arrive home is another check before dinner. Then I check one more time immediately before bed. I currently don’t check throughout the night unless I wake up, but I will likely be adding overnight checks in the future. This day does not take into account any additional blood sugar checks for high or low blood sugar results. I typically test my sugar by poking my finger with a sharp object 8-12 times per day. Every. Single. Day.
Why does it matter?
Because every single day, 80 people are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes like me.
A little knowledge can go a long way in the race for a cure. So please, spread the knowledge. Share this post, and tell people what you’ve learned! And if you have questions, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer!