Sunday, November 1, 2015

Type 1 Diabetes And Me

Today is November 1st, which kicks off National Diabetes Awareness Month, and this is something that is very near and dear to me. Why? Well, because I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when I was 6. So I'd like to take some time to talk to you all about what it is, and answer some questions that I hear all the time, and some of the things that I deal with.

Soooo... What is it?
Type 1 Diabetes {or Juvenile Diabetes}is an autoimmune disease that causes your pancreas to stop creating insulin, something that your body needs in order to get energy from food that you eat.

Well, maybe you should have eaten better, or gotten more exercise or {insert other reason here}
My diabetes was not caused by anything I did or did not do, or what I did or did not eat. No one knows what exactly causes Type 1 Diabetes, it's this great big mystery. Type 2 on the other hand... well, that's another story.

Hey, maybe if you eat better and exercise more you can cure your diabetes/Hey! I just heard that if you drink 24 ounces of carbonated pickle juice it will cure you're diabetes {or some other similarly hilarious nonsense}
Ummm.... no. Just, no. There is nothing neither I nor anyone else can do to cure Type 1 Diabetes. The insulin that I take helps to keep my blood sugar in line but it is not a cure either. I'd love for their to be a cure in my lifetime, but since it doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon... I'm in this for the long haul y'all.

Whoa whoa whoa. you can't eat that candy/cake/food... You're diabetic!
Actually, yes I can in fact eat that. This is one of the things that I hear over and over and over again. But that's okay, because I know that people are just concerned for my well being. But I can eat anything and that any non-diabetic can. It would be absolutely terrible for me if  I couldn't eat certain foods--especially something sweet--because I have the world's biggest sweet tooth.

Does it run in families?
They say no it does not, but I beg to differ. My baby sister was diagnosed when she was only three, and I know several other families who have two or more children with Diabetes.

OMG, I HATE needles, I don't know how you do that! 
Because I have no choice... Okay, even before I was diagnosed I never had a fear of needles... But that's a good thing, because I'd be in big trouble.

Living with Type 1 Diabetes can be ridiculously frustrating at times. You have to keep your blood sugar levels in their "Good" range, which is laughable sometimes because there are days where it's just not going to happen, no matter how hard you try. You could eat the same thing at the same time every single day, and you probably are not going to ever see the same numbers twice. There are many different reasons as to why this happens.. It could have to do with a change in the weather. It could be because you're happy, mad, sad, stressed... Heck, it could even have to do with what time you went to bed last night! It's a crazy roller coaster {and not the fun kind either}

Having Type 1 Diabetes is a constant worry that something is inevitably going to go wrong...Like having my insulin pump malfunction and I'll be without the proper supplies to take care of it. Even though I checked, double checked, and triple checked before I left home, and my blood sugar is going to spike sky high... which means I am going to have to deal with the very unpleasant symptoms. A massive headache, nausea, being extremely thirsty {and no matter how much water you drink, it's not enough} and having to pee... a lot.

Or you go to the opposite end of the spectrum... Dun dun duuuuun, low blood sugars. Those are probably my least favorite. Symptoms can vary from person to person, but for me, I get really shaky, and extremely irritable {things that don't usually bother me, make me so angry.} I can't concentrate on anything, and some of the things I do every day are nearly impossible for me. {like...2+2=? Ummm, is the answer fish?} And then I have to eat something to bring my sugar back up out of the danger zone, but everything tastes like saw dust. yuck. But if I don't do something about it, I could have a really bad reaction {like pass out} and have to go to the hospital. I haven't had anything like that happen to me since I was pretty little, but my baby sister ended up in the hospital for that a few years ago. She woke up around 6 in the morning and was completely confused and had no idea who she was. No matter what we asked her, the answer was cat, and she thought her name was Roo. We checked her blood sugar at home and it was normal so we took her to the hospital and spent a couple of hours there. What they think happened was that her blood sugar dropped too low and she had a seizure... Oh gosh, that was one of the most terrifying moments in my entire life.

It's hard dealing with everything sometimes, but I do it, and I don't go around feeling sorry for myself about it either. Well, okay, I've had moments when I wonder why my life is so complicated and why can't I just be a normal person who doesn't have to worry about checking their blood sugar 8 times a day...

But I get over that pretty quickly, because my life is actually pretty ace. And I know that I could have it much much much worse than I do. I refuse to let Diabetes run my life and define who I am... and I most definitely do not let it slow me down or stop me from doing the things that I love. I have family and friends who love me. I have two part time jobs that I absolutely love. I get to work with the younger girls at my church on Wednesday nights, and I am a self proclaimed book nerd who is also a geek with a hint of dork {and I ROCK that, thank you very much}I love my life, and I wouldn't change one single thing about it. I never went through that crazy teenage rebellion, where I refused to check my blood sugar, or give myself insulin because I was embarrassed about it or worried what my friends thought of it. Because seriously, if they can't handle it, then I really don't need them around me at all. Their loss, not mine.

I do sometimes feel like I grew up a lot faster than most kids out of necessity, but I don't think that was a bad thing. I always had a lot more freedom than most of my friends {like not ever having a curfew} because my parents knew that I could handle myself, and they could trust that I wasn't going to be doing anything stupid. I was also a lot better at math {not that it meant that I liked math, because we are not friends...}

My advice to you {whether you're a newly diagnosed Type 1, or you have a child with Type 1} find someone who is in the same boat. Trust me, as a diabetic it helps so much to have someone to talk to, who actually gets what you're saying and knows what you're going through. They understand what it feels like to have you're blood sugar sit at 24 and refuse to come back up. Yes, sure, you can try to explain the feeling to a non diabetic, but it's just not the same. And if you're the parent of a diabetic {which I am not, but I've seen what my mom goes through} it's nice to talk to another parent who can relate to what is going on, and can give you advice about different things.

If you want more information on Type 1 Diabetes click here to be redirected to the JDRF website

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