- Neither I nor my daughter did anything to cause her to develop type 1 diabetes. It didn’t occur because she ate too much candy or was overweight. It wasn’t because I over-indulged during my pregnancy. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder caused by the immune system mistaking a person’s insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas for a foreign invader. The immune system destroys the beta cells leaving a person without the ability to produce insulin.
- Without working beta cells a person either needs to inject insulin several times a day or infuse insulin via an insulin pump. Without insulin a person will die a slow and miserable death. Before Banting and Best made their miraculous discovery that is precisely what happened to people. Their misery is documented in pictures. I’ve seen the pictures. It is most horrifying and deeply disturbing.
- People with diabetes constantly need to monitor their blood sugar and count carbs. They must always be conscious of their activity and hormone levels and their overall physical condition to dose accordingly with insulin.
- Humans are poor substitutes for working beta cells and are constantly at risk of either overdosing or under dosing on insulin. The immediate consequences can range from feeling unwell to seizures, unconsciousness, coma or death. The long term consequences are kidney, heart and peripheral vascular disease, neuropathy and loss of vision to name just a few.
- My daughter Jenna is a remarkable little girl with a zest for life and a sense of humour beyond her years. She deserves to live a long, full life filled with love and understanding. I want Jenna to live in a world full of compassionate, educated people who won’t judge her out of ignorance. In fact, I want that for both my girls regarding life in general. Understanding and compassion come from being educated. If you don’t understand something about diabetes or have questions I will gladly educate you. Just ask.
- I too am guilty of being uninformed in the past regarding diabetes, even though I have a medical background. I cringe every time I recall conducting physical assessments on diabetic patients and asking them if they were “well controlled”. I’m surprised no one told me to go fly a kite, quite honestly. Control of diabetes is fleeting and can change from moment to moment. It is a constant battle with far too many variables to be a walk in the park. It never ends. If there is one thing I would tell health care professionals it’s to not judge a diabetic. Don’t think that because you are a medical doctor or a nurse that you know all there is to know about this disease. Odds are you don’t. This disease is harder than it looks to manage. And even when you seem to be doing everything right it can still mess with you on so many levels. And for goodness sake, don’t ask a type 1 diabetic if they are “well controlled”. It’s just about the most ridiculous thing you could ask.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Six Things I Want To Get Off My Chest
Today is D-Blog Day so I’m going to share my 6 things I want people to know about diabetes.