So What is Diabetes?

I’m going to go all Texan for a minute and say y’all! You have been so encouraging and excited and it makes ME excited! I have been stumbling for words for a few years. They used to flow through my finger tips and then they stopped coming. Much of my life is spent talking about, thinking about, reading about, learning about diabetes. Well, hello? Why don’t I WRITE about it?

I have a lot of stories floating around in my head about diabetes. I don’t even know where to start, because I want to start with them all! When I told my kids I was starting this blog, they started throwing out stories to tell. “Remember when daddy had a low blood sugar and he thought his feet were stuck to the floor?” Or from my husband “Remember when I belched in your mom’s face?”

So I’ll start with the obvious, what diabetes is, and what a person has to do to get it. (it’s not what you think)

So what is diabetes? Well, did you know that there are two types of diabetes? Many people don’t. There is a lot of information out there about Type 2 Diabetes and it is assumed that this is the type everyone has. You know the one where you are overweight, don’t exercise and don’t eat well, so this is your punishment? Yes, this is the actual attitude that a lot of diabetics are subjected to! I know a boy who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 18 months old. People have asked his mom if it’s because she gave him too much juice in his bottle.

Eh, no.

Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. The receiver of this diagnosis is as culpable for it, as I am for my hearing loss. I did not do anything to cause my hearing loss, my ears are damaged. Type 1 diabetes is the same way. It does not happen to you because you have made poor choices. Your pancreas is as broken as my ears. (maybe a little more! I can still hear)

So with Type 1 Diabetes, your pancreas stops producing insulin. Insulin is a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. “Each year, 15,000 children and 15,000 adults are diagnosed with T1D in the United States.” (source) There is nothing you can do to prevent it. It is not caused by diet or life style choices.

Treatment for T1D includes diet, exercise, INSULIN (the most important part of managing T1D), and frequent blood sugar testing. Not only do you have to treat T1D with all these, you have to balance them. It may sound easy, but imagine someone hands you four playground balls and tells you to hold them without dropping them. Sound doable? Now balance those four balls, at one time, without dropping them. Oh, is that a little more challenging? Balancing all the components of diabetes care is a little like that. However if you drop one of those balls, you’re not risking your health and well being. A diabetic would be.

No matter how great a person with type 1 diabetes is with balancing all the components of their care, they run the risk every day of too high or too low blood sugars. Diabetes is constantly changing. What affects you one day will affect you differently the next day. A diabetic must constantly be alert and flexible in order to manage their disease.

There isn’t a cure for T1D. Even with treatment, those with T1D are at risk for nerve damage, kidney failure, blindness, heart attack, stroke and complications in pregnancy.

The most important thing to remember is the difference. Type 1 Diabetes IS NOT Type 2 Diabetes. Do not ask a Type 1 diabetic what they did to cause their disease. In fact, don’t even ask a Type 2 diabetic that question. It’s insulting and rude and if you are not one of the key people in their life, you don’t really need this information.

My husband was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes 45 years ago. The treatment then pales in comparison to the treatment now. Doctors told his parents that statistically he would only live to 35 years of age. That was 15 years ago! You might think that with 45 years of diabetic knowledge, he would know everything there is to know, but we are learning new things every day!

Here are some symptoms of diabetes:

  • extreme thirst
  • frequent urination
  • drowsiness/ lethargy
  • increased appetite
  • sudden weight loss
  • sudden vision changes
  • fruity smelling breath

Did you learn anything new? Did you know that there are two different kinds of diabetes? Do you have any questions? (I know how to Google) Did I get something wrong or not quite right? (Let me know!)

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