Diabetes Is Not One Size Fits All
There are two different types of diabetes. They are type one and type two. Let’s explore the common misconceptions between them.
“I’ve eaten so much sugar, I’m probably going to become diabetic.” I’ve heard this phrase a lot in my life. At work, school, amongst family and friends and it didn’t use to bother me until recently. November is diabetes awareness month and I wanted to educate a little bit about the differences. I have been diabetic since I was 13 years old. When I was diagnosed, I didn’t realize that it would mean an entire lifetime of finger pricks, insulin injections, doctor visits, and constantly looking at food labels to determine the correct dosage of insulin to inject. I am a type one diabetic which is very different than a type two.
Society today sees diabetes as whole. Whenever I see any commercials on tv for a new medication or hear anything on the radio, they are grouped into one whole disease when in all actuality, there are some major differences. Let’s explore the most commonly known which is type two. Type two diabetes occurs mostly in adults whom are overweight and older in age. It can happen to young adults but is not very common. Type two diabetes is brought on by poor diet and poor lifestyle choice resulting in obesity. This is when the pancreas makes insulin, but it does not produce enough for the body to use it which results in higher blood sugars. Medication used to treat type two is usually an oral medication and diet. Sometimes a once daily injectable insulin is used but that varies from patient to patient. The biggest and most important difference between them, is that type two is reversible! With proper diet, weight loss, and lifestyle changes, a type two diabetic can become normal again and not have to do all that they would have to when they were type two diabetic.
Type one diabetes is completely different than type two. When I was 13 there were many things that happened to me that raised alarm with my parents. The most noticeable was a loss of almost 40 pounds in a two week period. Being 13 years old with a height of about 5’6” and weighing only 100 pounds, you could tell I was sick. On top of the weight loss, I was drinking gallons of water each day and urinating about every 45 minutes. The day of my doctors appointment, I woke up and couldn’t see. Everything was blurry and I couldn’t make out any images. That’s when I knew that something was seriously wrong. At the doctors office it didn’t take long to diagnose me with type one diabetes. I was rushed to the hospital where I spent next three days on constant IV drip of insulin and saline. A diabetes educator came in and gave me the quick but simple explanation of how the rest of my life would look.
Type one diabetes can manifest at any age and anytime in life. It’s called adult onset or juvenile diabetes because the majority of those who have it are young and many develop type one before they are even 10 years old. It is an autoimmune disease in which something (doctors and scientist don’t know what it is) triggered an immune response and signaled for the beta cells that produce insulin in the pancreas as foreign bodies and are destroyed, causing type one diabetes. This means that in order to survive, multiple daily injections of insulin is required when carbohydrates are consumed. One major misconception is that we aren’t able to eat sugar or that sugar is what we base our diet off of, when in reality carbohydrates are our biggest foe. While sugar and carbohydrates go hand in hand, sugar is not the sole nutrient we have to watch out for. Along with injections come blood sugar tests, this is done by pricking our finger/s to draw blood which we then put a small sample on a test strip to see what the number is. A good number is between 80 and 130. Anything below 80 needs to be treated with a carbohydrate whether it be juice, fruit snacks, or anything that can get into the bloodstream fast. If it is above 130 an insulin injection is required to keep it from getting high. A high blood glucose damages all parts of the body. Blood vessels, small nerves, muscles, bones, eyes, you name it. A low blood sugar is potentially fatal. The brain needs adequate blood glucose to function properly, if there is not enough glucose then seizures, shock, and death could result. Being able to control blood glucose in the range that it needs to be is actually easier said then done. Many different factors affect blood glucose at any given moment which is why there are so many different devices and medications we have to use to help control it.
While type one diabetes is extremely hard to manage, it is manageable. However, it is a lifetime of work, frustration, sadness, and at times despair. Unlike its type two counterpart, there is no cure, no reversing it, and no giving up.