The Balancing Act of Type 1 Diabetes
The Goal of Perfection, for a Disease That Is Impossible to Treat Perfectly
On an Easter Sunday April 1st, 2010, eight years ago, my life immensely changed, when I found out I was a Type 1 Diabetic. At the age of twelve I basically took on the major role of becoming my pancreas. I had to learn how many carbs are in everything I eat, I had to learn how much insulin to give to cover every carb I ate, I had to learn how to treat high and low blood sugars appropriately, I had to learn how to poke myself, so that I could test my blood sugar and to give myself insulin shots. The learning kept coming, and it still hasn’t stopped.
Most people have no idea about what diabetes is, whether it’s type 1 or type 2. So many are ignorant to this extreme and fast rising disease. Many get type 1 and type 2 confused, but they are very different diseases, so much so that they really should have completely different names. Over the last eight years of having Type 1 Diabetes, I’ve seen just how clueless the world really is to this deadly disease, which is terrifying.
No one knows why a person’s own immune system suddenly attacks the vital insulin producing cells in the pancreas, resulting in Type 1 diabetes. There is no known way of preventing it, and there is no cure. All we have is a treatment, insulin. Without insulin the body, it turns to fat and muscle to get the nutrition to keep running. Insulin is the bridge that opens up cells, so we can get the energy and nutrition from our food. Without insulin, you basically starve to death, even if you are eating mountains of food and drinking oceans of water.
What people fail to realize, even if the understand the basis of the disease, is that our bodies are still in huge danger. Insulin is a way to sustain us, but we are not the human pancreas. No matter how hard we work to keep our blood sugar levels perfectly in range all of the time, we will fail. We are really only able to somewhat treat this disease. Which means our bodies are constantly under heavy strain and always slowly wearing us down. The hours it takes to simply somewhat stabilize blood sugars, the math, the little sleep, feeling sick almost all the time in some way or another, the constant pricks and pokes, the 24/7 worry about what your blood sugar is doing, the anxiety, the depression, and the hopelessness. It’s a balancing act with no breaks.
This disease is rising, and rising fast. More and more and more people are being diagnosed each year, and we don’t know why. I’ve seen this in my own life with the people around me, more and more being diagnosed. There is a disaster growing right in front of us, and only a few see it. It gets more serious every day. We all may not be able to do much in finding a way to prevent more or in finding a cure, but what we can all do is to know the signs, so we can save lives and recognize it sooner. The signs of Type 1 Diabetes are:
- Changes in vision
- Fruity smelling breath
- Frequent Urination
- Constant Thirst
- Extreme hunger
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unusual behavior
There is hope, but for now we still must work 24/7 knowing that it will never work completely. Do you know how much energy it takes to keep shooting for perfection knowing that you will never get there? All I ask is that you remember the signs and that before you go to judge a person with diabetes, remember that their body is under constant strain, and remember what they have to do to stay alive. Eight years of managing diabetes is a lot, but sadly it’s nothing when compared to a life time. So here’s to year 9 and all the other type 1 diabetics who struggle with me. Lets hope for a cure, because this balancing act is something no one should have to perform.