I am a pretty passionate person! When I am into something, I’m not just into it… I’m IN TO IT. One of the things I am most passionate about is an ACCURATE portrayal of Type 1 Diabetes (T1D).
Our oldest daughter, Alyssa, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the tender age of 7. Talk about a hard blow that was! There I was, 7 months pregnant with our fourth child, and WHAM!… my “baby girl” was diagnosed with the horrific disease.
I think we have “come to terms” with the diagnosis now. I mean, its been part of our lives for **gasp** almost 10 years. Its not any easier to deal with now, but we certainly are more knowledgeable and don’t panic as quickly these days. We still have moments of tears, screaming fits, and bitterness about the diagnosis. Yes, not just Alyssa but me too! The pain a mother feels for not being able to fix her child’s “issue” is one that can only be truly understood if you walk in the mother’s shoes.
Over the years, we have “heard it all” from friends, family and, yes, even strangers about T1D. Some are just un-informed, some are mis-informed, and some are just….. well, for lack of better words: heartless idiots!!!
Here are MY TOP 10 FACTS I would like to share with you about TYPE 1 DIABETES:
1. Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin. Insulin is a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. T1D occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The body attacks itself!
2. It has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. Its causes are not yet entirely understood & scientists believe that both genetic factors and environmental triggers are involved. Let me repeat, It has NOTHING to do with DIET or LIFESTYLE. A T1D can eat the same thing a non-T1D can eat – that doesn’t make it a healthy choice (for either) but there are technically no food restrictions!
3. There is nothing you can do to prevent T1D, and as of right now, nothing you can do to get rid of it.
4. Insulin is REQUIRED, its not an alternative. No insulin taken = Death. Its THAT simple! Some people are insulin resistant on top of being insulin dependant! They don’t make the insulin needed, then when they take the insulin (via shot or pump), the body refuses to use it correctly. These people need a pill on top of the insulin…. but they still require the insulin.
5. Insulin is NOT a CURE! Refer to #3. Those with T1D need a pancreas that works properly.
6. Warning signs of T1D include:
- Extreme thirst
- Frequent urination
- Drowsiness or lethargy
- Increased appetite
- Sudden weight loss
- Sudden vision changes
- Sugar in the urine
- Fruity odor on the breath
- Heavy or labored breathing
- Stupor or unconsciousness
7. Every year, more than 15,000 children are diagnosed with T1D. It affects both children and adults, but is commonly referred to as “juvenile diabetes”.
8. Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are TWO DIFFERENT THINGS! In type 2 diabetes, either the body does not produce enough insulin or the body’s cells ignore the insulin. This is commonly referred to as “insulin resistant” diabetes. Type 1 = the body doesn’t make insulin at all, Type 2 = the body doesn’t use insulin correctly or has a reduced amount produced.
9. Some people, including my daughter, where a device called an insulin pump. This is an external device used to administer insulin into the body.
10. Having Type 1 diabetes does not stop you from leading a FULL & NORMAL LIFE! In the past 9 1/2 years since Alyssa has been diagnosed she has danced, been on the school cheerleading squad, gone to youth camps, has a boyfriend, maintains over a 3.0 GPA in high school, goes to football games, rides horses, runs track for high school, actively involved in FFA, coaches two little conference cheerleading squads, leads Vacation Bible School crafts, drives a car, goes to dances, eats pizza, ice cream and candy, stays up all night and sleeps all day….. just like EVERY OTHER “NORMAL” TEENAGER!
Please go to www.jdrf.org for more information about Type 1 Diabetes and to support research to find a CURE!