Advocacy

Diabetes 101

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) in February 2015. That Monday morning I went to the doctor because I wasn’t feeling well. Couldn’t explain it to my family but for moments I felt like dying. After listening to how I was feeling they check my blood sugar. My blood sugar was 498 mg/dl fasting since I didn’t have breakfast that morning. When the doctor came to the room, she said that I needed to go to the hospital. My heart sunk, my son’s life passed thru my eyes, what am I going to do now?

Went to the hospital and stay there for a whopping two hours. They send me home with the recommendation to see my doctor within 3 days. I knew nothing back then. No treatment at all just a hefty bill. When I got home, I started researching about diabetes, I found an online community and support groups. That there are organizations like the American Diabetes Association, JDRF, Beyond Type 1, who give support and teach the Type 1 community and stand behind them through thick and thin.

 

So what is Diabetes exactly?

The American Diabetes Association explains it in a simple way: “Diabetes is a problem with your body that causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal. This is also called hyperglycemia. When you eat your body breaks food down into glucose and sends it into the blood. Insulin then helps move the glucose from the blood into your cells. When glucose enters your cells, it is either used as fuel for energy right away or stored for later use. In a person with diabetes, there is a problem with insulin. But, not everyone with diabetes has the same problem.

There are different types of diabetes – type 1, type 2, and a condition called gestational diabetes, which happens during pregnancy. If you have diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or it can’t use the insulin it does very well or both.

 

This image from Beyond Type 1 shows what Type 1 is. Feel free to share.

 

Type 1 Diabetes

In type 1 diabetes, your immune system mistakenly destroys the cells in your pancreas that make insulin. Your body treats these cells as invaders and destroys them. This can happen over a few weeks, months, or years. When enough beta cells are destroyed, your pancreas makes little or no insulin. Because the pancreas does not make insulin, the insulin needs to be replaced. People with type 1 diabetes take insulin by injection with a syringe, an insulin pen, or an insulin pump. Insulin does not come in a pill. Without insulin, your blood glucose rises and is higher than normal, which is called hyperglycemia.

Type 1 diabetes affects about 5% of people in the United States with diabetes. In the past, type 1 diabetes was called juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. It’s usually first diagnosed in young people but it can occur at any age. Type 1 diabetes is much less common than type 2 diabetes.

 

 

Could I have caused my Type 1 Diabetes?? NO!! Scientists aren’t sure what causes type 1 diabetes. It is not contagious and it is not caused by eating sugar. Research is underway to find the exact causes of type 1 diabetes and how it might be prevented.

 

What is the treatment to manage Type 1 Diabetes?

The two goals of diabetes treatment are to make sure you feel well day-to-day and to prevent or delay long-term health problems. The best way to reach those goals is by:

• taking insulin

• planning your meals—choosing what, how much, and when to eat

• being physically active

 

Diabetes can affect how you feel each day. If your blood glucose level is too high or too low (hypoglycemia), you may not feel well. Keeping your blood glucose in a target range will help you feel your best. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin several times a day to keep their blood glucose under control. You also need to check blood glucose regularly and use the information to adjust the amount of insulin you are taking.

 

 

If you have made it this far, for which I’m thankful, you now understand that Type 1 Diabetes is not a self-inflicted disease nor a disease that you get because you aren’t living a healthy lifestyle or out of laziness. Living with it is hard and put a burden not only on the person that has it but to all the family. Having a good support system is essential and necessary.

The Cost of Diabetes

Diabetes is expensive. For a proper management, we need tons of supplies. These supplies include but not limited to meter, test strips, lancets, syringes, glucose tabs; Insulin (long active/short active); medical devices (insulin pumps, CGM’s). Also consider all the doctor visits, usually every 3 months, plus the emergency ones or hospital stays. A simple cold could send us to the hospital. This is a deadly disease in some cases, like my father, if proper treatment is not done. Think of it as living in the Groundhog Day movie, with no end. Even doing the same exact thing every day the results are different. The burnout that we could experience is no joke and real.

 

Beyond the struggles we face daily, we are strong.  Past the frustration we experience, we smile. Even with the pain we have, we never let go. No matter all the curve balls Diabetes throw at us, We Live Beyond!

 

Please Share, Share, Share, let the word out about what Type 1 Diabetes is.

 

Leave a comment below or send me an email with your thoughts on this subject.  <3

 

 

Note: Graphics thanks to Beyond Type 1 website.

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(17) Comments

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  5. Thank you for the article! You break it down so that it’s easy to follow and understand!

    1. Edel says:

      Glad you find it interesting and understandable. One of my goals is for people to learn what Diabetes is and what is not. Thank you for stopping by and reading! Xo

  6. Anitra says:

    My aunt has diabetes, and she always says that she wishes she knew more about how to prevent it before she actually got it. This is great information!

    1. Edel says:

      Hi Anitra, it is never too late to learn about it. Thank you for reading! Xo

  7. You are wonderful to be dealing with Type 1 diabetes and be raising awareness at the same time.

    1. Edel says:

      Thank you, Sharon. Raising awareness is all we can do until there’s a cure. Let people know what is like living with Type 1 Diabetes or Diabetes in general since all types have their own burdens. Thank you for reading! Xo

  8. This is really interesting reading, my dad has type 2 diabetes but there is so much that I didn’t know about the disease – thanks for sharing!

    1. Edel says:

      You are welcome, Sam! Thank you for reading. If you need more information visit Beyond Type 1, they have a page for Type 2 and useful resources. Also, the American Diabetes Association have plenty of info about Type 2. Hope your dad is doing well! Xo

  9. Rebecca says:

    This is a great article and well written out. My husband is type 2 and it was a challenge learning how to manage for him.

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