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Posts Tagged ‘type 1 diabetes’

Okay, let’s get this party started off with a refresher course on the basics, shall we? I hear a lot of collective groaning out there, but are you THAT sure that you REALLY know what type 1 diabetes (T1D) is? For my T1D friends, feel free to check my work. But for everyone else, really, read it. You might be surprised at what you learn.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. That right there usually comes as a surprise to many people. This means that I didn’t eat too much or the wrong kinds of foods. I didn’t take poor care of myself and I wasn’t born with it. Well, I was born with a defective gene but that didn’t come into effect until I was seven years old. Many people with T1D remember being sick with a virus shortly before their diagnosis. I am no exception. I remember being on a tennis court with a friend one day that summer and telling my mom I wasn’t feeling well. Sure enough, I had a fever. The fever lasted three days and then all was good again. Until it wasn’t.

My immune system was apparently so proud of the work it did eradicating that virus that it wanted to do more and do it well. My immune system took a good hard look at the insulin-producing cells (islet cells) of my pancreas, determined them to be foreign, and destroyed them.

Now let’s pause there for a second and talk about insulin and why it’s important. When I go around to schools and talk to kids about diabetes I like to refer to insulin as a “golden key”. So imagine that the cells of your body are locked up tight and imagine that when you eat, insulin runs through your body like a magical key rapidly unlocking your cells so that the nutrients from the food you eat can nourish you and allow the glucose from food to enter the cells and be used for energy.

Without insulin, the glucose builds up in the blood stream and never gets into the cells. The cells starve and the build up of glucose in the blood stream can become deadly. When this process began for me, I lost a LOT of weight and I didn’t have a lot to lose in the first place. I was thirsty ALL THE TIME. Not a, “Gee, I’d really like a glass of water.” kinda thirst but a get-kicked-out-of-day-camp-for-pushing-kids-out-of-the-way-to-get-to-the-bug-juice-first kinda thirst. (True story. And if you don’t know what bug juice is, you are a very lucky person indeed.) This thirst is caused by the kidneys’ desperate attempt to create more urine to flush the dangerous build up of glucose out of your system. I was hungry and eating all the time, peeing all the time, losing weight (even though I was eating a ton) and generally just wanted to sleep.

So, I was diagnosed with T1D. This meant that for the rest of my life (or until there’s a cure) I would need to take insulin through shots or an insulin pump in order to stay healthy or even just alive. The body cannot survive without any insulin. Staying alive, however, is not the only goal of living with type 1 diabetes. A person with T1D must do their absolute best to monitor their blood glucose levels, insulin dosages, food intake, exercise, stress levels, illnesses, and thousands of other factors to keep their levels in “target range”. This effort is essential not only to feel good, but also to avoid dangerous long-term complications such as blindness, nerve damage, damage to organs such as the heart and kidneys and a myriad of other health issues.

There currently is no cure, T1D is a chronic disease. The care of T1D has changed A LOT in the almost 33 years since I was diagnosed and keeping my blood glucose levels under control has gotten easier – but it’s still not easy and never will be. I’ll explain more about how I manage my diabetes in another post, but I credit organizations like JDRF for much of the technology and medications I use to treat this disease. JDRF’s highest priority remains funding research to deliver a cure for T1D and its complications. At the same time, JDRF is also focused on developing better treatments that will and have transformed the way people with T1D treat the disease today, in order to help them live healthier lives now and in the future.

This is why I Walk.

Helpful Links:

For more information on type 1 diabetes

To donate to my Walk & 5K Run to Cure Diabetes Team

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Sooooooo, it’s that time of year again. The time when I ask for money. “Wha?!?!?” You say. “That’s not all year round….?”

Shuddap

Anywho. The South Central Texas chapter of JDRF is holding their annual Walk & 5K Run to Cure Diabetes on October 19th, 2014 at the UT Health Science Center. However, that’s not actually why I’m blogging for the first time in a year and a half. Not entirely, anyway.

I’m starting up again because it has occurred to me that in all my efforts to look like I’m living successfully with type 1 diabetes (T1D), in the process I am actually KEEPING many of you from learning about it. A few of my close friends are probably sick of hearing about it, true, but I can think of only one or two who have, on more than one occasion, asked me several really good questions about it.

I just thought that since I don’t really delve into the nitty-gritty of it without being pressed, I might make it a point to write several little vignettes (blogettes?) over the course of the next couple of months to see if I can’t teach someone something new.

And if it makes you maybe want to donate to a really fantastic cause that means a lot to me, then WIN!

I’ve already thought of a number of topics but I thought I’d ask you if there’s anything you’ve wanted to ask but were too cautious or afraid of offending me. Here’s your chance. Comment below. I’ll answer anything – yes, even the question about what I do with my pump during “extra-curricular” activities (it comes off – like everything else). Anything.

And if you do feel like donating to my Walk team during this process, you can do so here.

Thanks as always for reading and stay tuned for an honest look at living with T1D.

 

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If your health condition (or the health condition of a loved one!) was an animal, what would it be? Is it a real animal or make believe?

Well, I don’t know if it counts as an animal per se (yes, I just wrote “per se”) but I would say the “animal” that most represents type 1 diabetes is a termite. Why (WHAT) you ask? Because they often go unseen yet can completely destroy the functioning structure of a building or tree.

Type 1 diabetes is a lot like that. You can’t see my disease. Not unless you’re incredibly astute and looking for the telltale bulge of my pump. Yet inside, slowly, methodically, cells are being damaged.

If only a cure was a simple as calling pest control…

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Write a letter to an older you (tell us what age you’re writing to!). What do you want to ask yourself? What lesson do you want to make sure you remember?

Oh geez, okay, let’s pick 60. A little over 20 years from now.

Dear 60 year-old Me,

YOU NEVER THOUGHT YOU’D LIVE THIS LONG DID YA?!?!?!?!? No, you didn’t. Let’s be honest, you never thought you’d see 40 either, but here I am just six months away from the big 4-0 writing you this letter. Congratulations, you’ve made it this far.

I don’t know what complications you’re currently experiencing, but I’m guessing there’s some. Maybe the retinopathy that was an issue briefly in your 20s has raised it’s ugly head again and you’ve undergone a few more laser eye treatments. Hopefully they’re successful. Maybe the dreaded gastroparesis or kidney disease has started. OR, probably your biggest fear – a heart attack. Because let’s face it, those lows really do a number on your heart.

Or maybe you’re lucky. Because, let’s face it, a lot of living with type 1 diabetes is all about luck and we’ve had a lot so far – hopefully it will last. But I don’t think it will.

Maybe by now you’ve had your first ambulance ride and hospital stay due to hypoglycemia. It’s bound to happen, right? What person with type 1 diabetes makes it this or that long without one?

But regardless of whether your body is continuing with its lucky streak or you’re unable to walk any longer due to neuropathy, you can’t go back and undo bad decisions you made.

Stop thinking about that one time when you were 39 and exhausted from a super busy day and fell into a dreamless sleep for SEVEN UNINTERRUPTED HOURS only to wake up, look at your CGMS and realize that you were over 300 most of the night and didn’t even hear it buzzing at you to fix the problem. It was a stupid error and you were pissed at yourself then, but you can’t change the fact that it happened. Stop dwelling on it.

There may have been a lot of questionable decisions you made in your “youth”. Waiting too long to go on the insulin pump, not giving yourself enough insulin to cover the meal you ended up eating, choosing to go out to dinner with a client even though you knew you didn’t have your insulin with you. Those are just a few. Regardless of the repercussions, understand this:

YOU LIVED YOUR LIFE.

You didn’t let diabetes choose how you lived it. You enjoyed many activities and situations that you might have missed out on if you were overly cautious or completely unyielding in your care.

And you know what? You may be paying for it or you may not be paying for it now. But either way, the choice was made and can’t be undone. Just please promise me that you’ll continue to move forward making the best possible choices you can and not let yourself get mired in self-pity and recrimination because of the choices you made in the past.

Overall, your A1Cs were good. Better than good for a lot of the time. And you were extremely well-educated medically as to what was going on with your body and why. You could have done better, sure. You could have done a helluva lot worse too.

What’s done is done. Now go enjoy that artificial pancreas that you should be wearing by now.

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5 Challenges. 5 Small Victories. Make a list of the 5 most difficult parts of your health focus. Make another top 5 list for the little, good things (small victories) that keep you going.

Most Difficult:

  1. Constant worry. The other day my left big toe was hurting me. Did I think about the fact that I had run 3 miles and walked 2 and then spent several hours in heels? No. I worried about whether I was developing neuropathy. For the record, my big toe is now fine.
  2. Getting prescriptions filled. ONE OF THE MOST ANNOYING ACTIVITIES. The doctor’s office didn’t respond to the pharmacies request. So this now involves phone calls to the pharmacy, phone calls to the doctor’s office, phone calls to the pharmacy again – what, you STILL haven’t received the prescription?!? Yup, another call to the doctor’s office. This happens so often with ALL my doctor’s (at some point or another).
  3. Getting my pump replaced.My pump breaks. A lot. My friends with type 1 diabetes ask what the heck I’m doing with the pump but honestly I think I just have bad pump karma. So every time I need a new one, it’s about an hour on the phone (at least). Then, when the new pump arrives, it’s programming it. But at least now my daughter’s old enough to help.

    Programming pumps
    Yay, she thinks it’s FUN!!

  4. Going to bed. If you’ve ever had an overnight low (and chances are that if you have type 1, you have) then you understand what I mean. When you’re feeling especially fragile, going to bed can be a bit nerve-wracking.
  5. Daily interruptions. Stop and do a blood sugar. Stop and take your medication. Stop and make necessary doctor/pharmacy/pump manufacturer phone calls. Stop and treat a low blood sugar. Do another blood sugar or six. Stop and treat a high blood sugar. Change your pump site. Change your reservoir. If ever there is a cure fortype 1 diabetes, we are all going to suddenly find ourselves with so much free time that we’re going to take over the world.

(Not so) Little Victories:

  1. I’m still here. When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, the median age for people with type 1 diabetes was late 30s. It’s now in the 60s. Seeing as I’m now in my late 30s, I’m really grateful for that.
  2. Not only am I still here, but I feel pretty damn good. (Knocking wood.)
  3. I’m educating others. I work part time in the local JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) chapter and create brochures, flyers, postcards, etc. promoting outreach and fundraising events and I run a support group for adults living with type 1 diabetes. I may be living with this disease, but I’m not alone. The least I can do is help.
  4. Waking up in the morning. If you’ve ever had an overnight low (and chances are that if you have type 1, you have) then you understand what I mean. Waking up in the morning after a difficult night can make a person very thankful.
  5. I’m more aware of what’s going on in my body than the average Joe. And chances are that if you use medical jargon around me I’ll understand. I make decisions everyday that are better for my body in the hopes that it will make a difference.

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So there’s this great video project going on in the DOC (Diabetic Online Community) for those who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and parents of children newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Well, it’s probably also good for anyone just needing encouragement, really.

Anyway, I started watching a few of the videos and got inspired.  You can view these videos too and get inspired yourself at: http://www.textingmypancreas.com/p/you-can-do-this-project.html. I thought that in honor of entering my third decade with type 1 diabetes I’d do a video of my own. My FIRST video project, I might add.

Since I’ve always wanted to do a Walk video, I tried to combine the two into one. Don’t know how successful I was in doing so, but here’s my story, be nice.

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