I have type 1 diabetes. No, I didn’t eat too much sugar or gain too much weight, that has nothing to do with type 1, or insulin-dependent diabetes. At 17 years old when I was a senior in high school, my pancreas pretty much up and quit on me. For over a week I thought I was dying of thirst (I wish that was an exaggeration) and had to pee constantly (sorry for the over share, but it was ALL THE TIME). At the time, despite having a father with type 1 diabetes, I had no idea that those were the two biggest symptoms of the disease. After a week of dealing with it, I told my parents how I was feeling and my dad tested my blood sugar “just for fun”. Well, I was 596. That number is meaningless if you don’t know that the normal blood sugar range for a healthy person is 60-120. So, I spent the next few days in the hospital getting the care I needed and learning how to take care of myself with this disease. It was hard. It still is hard. But hard is better than the alternative (see blindness, kidney failure, amputations, and death).
Type 1 diabetes, in the plainest language, is when your pancreas no longer produces the hormone insulin. Insulin is released when you eat food, drink pop, etc, to keep your blood sugar regulated. Your pancreas also produces a hormone called glucagon, which is released when your blood sugar is getting too low. Glucagon raises it back up to keep you normal and healthy. My pancreas no longer does these things. Why? Well no one has ever been able to tell me exactly why, because they don’t know. Basically, my body started attacking my cells and prevented my pancreas from doing its job.
Type 1 diabetes has no cure. Which really sucks. Seriously. But, that doesn’t mean my life has to be drastically different from anyone else’s. I wear an insulin pump instead of taking injections. This way, my pump (you would not believe the number of people who ask me if it is a pager), gives me a small amount of insulin every hour to keep my blood sugar steady (called a basal rate), and then I give myself insulin (called a bolus) whenever I eat or drink something with carbs. Sometimes my blood sugar gets too high and I feel really sick until I can bring it down to normal again, and sometimes my blood sugar gets too low and I get confused, dizzy, occasionally angry, and I need to drink juice and eat something immediately so that I don’t pass out and go into a coma (which for the record has NEVER happened. I’ve always been able to take care of my lows or had help. Knock on wood.)
I know this might be too much information (or just more information that you wanted), but it is just the basics. The American Diabetes Association has lots of great information if you are interested in learning about it more. On a less credible, but highly entertaining side (at least for me), there is Buzzfeed with its lists of Top 25 Most Awkward Times To Be A Type 1 Diabetic and 10 Things Only Type 1 Diabetics Will Understand
. They are funny and will give you a little insight into the disease and my life. Because it is okay to laugh about this stuff, you have to. Who wants to be sad and depressed about something I have to deal with all day, every day? Not me. So please, always feel free to ask me questions about it, because I would rather help spread the right information than constantly hear, “Whoa that sucks. You must have had a lot of sugar when you were a kid.” I wish.