Whether you are living with someone who has it or not, you are most likely going to come across someone in your lifetime that has Type 1 Diabetes. There are so many common misconceptions about this disease including people's confusion between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. To quickly clear the air I will give you a few differences: You do not get Type 1 Diabetes from eating too much sugar or from being "fat." There's nothing you can do to cause you to get this unfortunate disease and nothing you can do to it.
Type 1 Diabetes is a fluctuating disease that causes symptoms that you have to watch almost every second of the day. Your pancreas suddenly decides to stop producing its precious insulin that keeps your endocrine system and entire body functioning. It isn't easy to deal with; not only physically, but emotionally. There are times where you feel like you can't deal with it anymore whether you're the one with the disease or the one watching it happen to someone you love and care about.
The amount of times my younger sister (who has Type 1 Diabetes) has come home and told me what horrible things kids had said to her just because she had to monitor her glucose levels in class and treat her highs or lows in front of her classmates have made me realize how cruel kids could really be. There was a time when a child told my sisters friend to "tell her little shaky friend to stop faking it." Faking it? No one is faking it when their blood sugar drops so low that they can't talk or walk, let alone perform any other everyday function.
As a role model for my younger sister, it has been hard not to beat up some of the kids up who thought it was okay to say some of these nasty comments, or at least, give them a piece of my mind. Knowing that my sister will be looking up to me and my actions for the rest of her life has made me realize that all I can really do is remain by her side and continue to make sure she's healthy.
In case you were wondering what it's like to survive even just a few hours in the presence of a Type 1 Diabetic or to have it yourself, I'll tell you a little bit about it. There's nothing that is easy. Just because it becomes a part of your everyday routine because it has to be in order for you to survive does not mean that it isn't difficult. You learn how to manage your symptoms and prevent the worst from happening.
A Type 1 Diabetics day starts before the previous one even ends. The risk of someone's blood sugar dropping too low or rising too high while they are asleep at night can be fatal. With today's technology, there are so many ways to monitor your glucose levels. Aside from having a glucose monitor, many Type 1 Diabetics have continuous glucose monitors that show a generic estimate of where that person's blood sugar numbers are ranging. This is usually hooked up to the person's pump. The pump is one of the most important parts. It supplies the insulin to the body that the pancreas is unable to produce through a nifty little tube. That tube is constantly attached to the person through a pump site that they have to change for cleanliness and anti-infectious purposes. And if you aren't on a pump? Then you have to inject insulin into your body as needed. Now does that sound easy to handle? Didn't think so. So, enough with the tools needed and onto a simple daily run-through.
The first thing a Type 1 Diabetic should do when they wake up is check their blood sugar. Knowing where your blood sugar is ranging is super important when trying to figure out what you are going to simply eat for breakfast. Having an insulin pump means you can enter the amount of carbohydrates you will be eating into the pumps system so that it distributes the correct amount of insulin to keep your body stable. Entering carbohydrate counts into your pump means that you have to constantly be aware of the amount you are taking in. Putting those carbs into your pump is called bolusing. That has to happen before every, single meal. And what happens if you don't? Then you better be ready to treat your high with some extra insulin intake or you're low with some glucose tabs. Throughout the day, it's important to keep track of your diabetes and keep yourself healthy because the risks you may face if you don't can be deadly.
There's so much more to Type 1 Diabetes than what I've said already, but I don't want to bore you with a History Of Type 1 Diabetes lesson. Everything you should know about it is what you are about to hear next.
1. Just because this disease isn't one that is completely apparent to the naked eye does not mean that the person with the disease isn't extremely affected by it.
2. Whoever has Type 1 isn't "faking" their symptoms for attention (yeah little kid in my sister's class back when she was in fifth grade, this one's for you).
3. Type 1 Diabetics are allowed to eat sugar!!! (this one really gets me going) They actually need that sugar especially when their blood sugar is too low for them to function properly.
4. Although it probably isn't necessarily the nicest thing to do, yes, Type 1 Diabetics are allowed to move to the front of the lines at Disney World, Six Flags, and Lake Compounce because it is considered a medical handicap (apparently waiting in the lines too long can result in dangerously low blood sugar, so why not get the ride over with sooner?).
5. Type 1 Diabetes takes a huge toll on the person with the disease and the people who care for the person with the disease.
Number 5 has been something I have noticed significantly in my own family. When my sister was first diagnosed, everyone in my family was distraught. Type 1 Diabetes is life-threatening and completely alters someone's life! Everyone has to quickly learn how to take care of this disease in a matter of days in order to keep their loved one healthy. We spent a few days with my sister in the hospital while learning from many specialists how we would help my sister monitor her new disease once we were back at home. Although the news of this disease was so negative, there has been so many great events that have come of Type 1 Diabetes in our family. Our family has grown through the amazing JDRF program (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). Their program supports families and individuals with Type 1 Diabetes in order to make their life with the disease more manageable. Our family has met so many great people because of the program and the disease.
com/ Type 1 Diabetes isn't something I would wish on anyone. It completely alters life as you once knew it. Overall, I'm thankful that the experience my family has had with it has been so positive from the start.