19 Oct A Dedication to the Diabetics
I know, I know it’s been ages since I actually wrote a blog post however I was bombarded with university work these past weeks because (fingers crossed) I graduate at the end of this semester! But that’s a story for another time, because I wanted to talk about something a little more serious and a lot more medical today.
November is known for a lot of things, the lead up to Christmas, the end of the school semester and also Movember. However what you may or may not know is that November is also National Diabetes Awareness Month (in America). Subsequently, World Diabetes Day also falls on the 14th of November every year. For this reason I wanted to get a little personal and talk about Type 1 Diabetes (T1D).
Firstly, let me tell you that there are in fact 3 types of diabetes. Type 1 (also known as Juvenile/ Insulin Dependent) Diabetes is most commonly diagnosed at a younger age and results in the complete loss of function in the pancreas which means no insulin for us, at all. This tends to be genetic or hereditary and is not caused by diet or any other external factors, we also make up around 10% of all diabetics. This is me.
Type 2 however is what most people associate the term ‘diabetes’ with, it’s caused by obesity, inactivity or old age amongst other environmental factors and lastly is Gestational Diabetes which occurs during pregnancy.
Now that we have that out of the way let me give you a quick run-down on my association with Type 1 Diabetes. This September I had my 18 year anniversary of being diagnosed with this condition, this means that I was 1 year and 9 months old when it all began. I am a hard-core supporter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) who are looking to find a cure for T1D and I use an insulin pump to moderate my sugar levels (though I have used syringes and insulin pens in the past).
Just to put things into perspective I’d like to explain what it’s like living with Type 1 Diabetes. Firstly, it’s usually quite inconspicuous, people don’t tend to know about my diabetes until I mention it because my insulin pump isn’t located in a noticeable position on my body. Now, I’m not ashamed of the diabetes, it’s just that it’s much easier to wear it somewhere less obvious than to get questions thrown my way all the time.
Also, because people don’t tend to flaunt their diabetes you probably don’t completely understand the struggles of living day-in-day-out with (essentially) an artificial pancreas. It’s watching how much or how little you eat to make sure your sugar levels don’t spike, it’s waking up some mornings wondering why on earth you feel so incredibly dizzy and it’s having that constant concern in the back of your mind that you’re blood sugar will go too low or too high and mess up your day.
Basically, what I’m trying to do here is allow people to be aware of the risks and reality of living with an incurable autoimmune condition. People like Halle Berry and Nick Jonas (who both have T1D) are paving the way to awareness surrounding this condition and support not-for-profits similar to the JDRF, but we need more than just celebrities rallying behind it.
I know this may sound needy and maybe even attention seeking to some however I’m simply taking this chance, on a month and more specifically, a day dedicated to finding a cure for diabetes, to tell you a bit about my story in hopes that you’ll consider donating to the JDRF or reading up on T1D.
I hope you’ve learnt something or taken something away from this post. Type 1 Diabetes isn’t as well-known as Type 2 and needs all the support it can get. All but 2 years of my life have been spent with this condition and while it’s not debilitating I can definitely think of a few different things I’d rather be doing.
Please, if you have time donate to the JDRF or buy a Jelly Baby pin to support the path to a cure for diabetes.
See also my mini-documentary on living with Type 1 Diabetes in a rural town.