I am raising my voice to educate people about Type 1 Diabetes. I am the mother of a three year old daughter who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on June 12th, 2007. I thought I knew a lot about diabetes before she was diagnosed, but I quickly found out that I knew very little. I’m raising my voice because even though my family is learning more and more about this disease every day there are many people throughout our world who still do not know about this disease. Often, Type 1 is pooled together with Type 2 diabetes. People/Society need to understand that Type 1 diabetes is not manageable with a pill or with exercise and diet alone. Type 1 requires so much more. Don’t get me wrong – Diabetes, either Type 1 or Type 2, are both serious diseases and the consequences of not managing both of them can be devastating. I’m mainly raising my voice to stress the fact that education does not prevent Type 1 diabetes, as it can help to prevent Type 2 diabetes.
What makes Type 1 diabetes different? Several things make Type 1 diabetes different from the other types of diabetes.
First, it is most commonly diagnosed in childhood and young adulthood. It is often referred to as “Juvenile Diabetes”. In a way, the term “Juvenile Diabetes” is misleading because this type of diabetes does not go away as the child grows up. My daughter will have Type 1 diabetes for the rest of her life, unless a cure is found. Until a cure is found, she is completely dependent on insulin to stay alive.
Second, Type 1 diabetes happens when a person’s immune system kills the insulin producing cells of the pancreas. ALL the insulin producing cells are killed. When this happens, a person with Type 1 diabetes must inject insulin several times each day in order to survive. My daughter usually gets four shots a day. One at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and with bedtime snack.
Last, there is no way to know who will get Type 1. It is not preventable. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease and has nothing to do with a person’s lifestyle or choices.
My family and I treat my daughters Type 1 diabetes one day at a time. She receives four (and sometimes more than four) insulin injections every day. Insulin is injected to balance every gram of carbohydrate eaten. She receives short acting insulin with every meal and receives long acting insulin that works day and night to help keep her body healthy. We count every carbohydrate that she eats and also we have to take into consideration the amount of protein and fat that she eats as well. Sometimes it’s guess work which can be overwhelming at times. Insulin lowers her blood sugar, exercise can lower her blood sugar, stress can raise her blood sugar, food will raise her blood sugar, and there are plenty of other factors that can also raise or lower her blood sugar. Coming up with the right amount of insulin doses is very challenging, stressful, overwhelming, unpredictable and scary. We communicate with Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital weekly to determine the best doses.
We check our daughter’s blood sugar eight or more times a day. We do this by pricking her fingers and testing her blood with a glucose meter. When blood sugar is too high for a long time, there is an increased risk of complications from diabetes, including neuropathy, blindness, kidney disease, and heart disease. Keeping our daughter’s blood sugar in range will help prolong these complications or even prevent these complications from happening in her future. When blood sugar is too low, it can be an emergency. Low blood sugar can lead to confusion, seizures, unconsciousness, and death. When our daughter is low, we give her some form of sugar to bring her back in range. If you are with a Type 1 diabetic who is having a seizure or is unconscious, call 911. If they are conscious but disoriented, try giving them some form of sugar and if they do not get better, call 911.
Our daughter is amazing and I admire her courage. Over the past 10 months she has seen over 2,400+ pricks of her fingers to get blood sugar readings and 1,120+ insulin injections. Besides having Type 1 diabetes, she is just like any other little girl – she loves to draw and be creative, she loves to play with her sister, loves her family, loves horses, likes to get dirty, gets in trouble, and makes all of us laugh. We will manage her disease the best way we know how and we will continue to hope for a cure.
RAISE YOUR VOICE – AWARENESS FOR TYPE 1 DIABETES!!!