I wrote this paper for an English assignment. :)
Halle Berry, “Boomer” Wells, Randy Jackson, Jay Cutler, Ella Fitzgerald, Thomas Edison, James Brown, Nick Jonas, Aretha Franklin, Nicole Martin. What do all these awesome people have in common? They have all been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
It happened on February 28, 2008. Everything I had always taken for granted was taken away. My perfect health became a thing of the past. Prior to my diagnosis I began losing weight and drinking excess amounts of water. I was always tired and sick. My mom, being a diabetic expert because of my youngest brother’s diabetes, became suspicious of my symptoms and decided to test my blood glucose levels. The meter read ‘HI’. This means I had over 35 mill moles of sugar in every liter of my blood. The average range is between 5 and 7 mill moles of sugar per liter. The actual day of my diagnosis my stomach was upset, my head was pounding, and I was uncharacteristically cranky. My mom tested my blood again, and it still read ‘HI’, so she took me up to the hospital, where they ran some quick blood tests, then treated me with my first insulin shot. The effects were immediate. My whole body relaxed and I slept for the first time in days. The next day I got my very own set of insulin pens, glucagon, and a blood glucose meter.
Diabetes is a disease where the pancreas does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that turns sugar into glucose. The body uses glucose, not sugar for energy. Without insulin, sugar builds up in the blood stream, and causes blood sugar levels to rise. If the body reaches a point where there is no more room for sugar in the blood stream, the situation is desperate. Blood can become acidic, slowly eating away at the edges of the blood vessels. This is called key tones. Someone with key tones is always exhausted, and loses weight very quickly.
Some of the side effects of diabetes are immediate, including paranoia, and tender spots on fingers, stomach, and arms. Some side effects are delayed, such as denial. I still try to deny my diabetic status by justifying with, “Oh, one unit of insulin isn’t worth the poke, and it won’t make a difference with my sugars.” Or, worse, I try to avoid the inevitable by not checking my sugars. By avoiding this I don’t know if I’m having the right amount of insulin. If I don’t have enough it can be life threatening, and if I have too much it can be life threatening. The denial of diabetes is life threatening.
I have had to change a lot of things in my life over the past year. I don’t go for slurpee runs every afternoon in the summer, and I don’t drink a Dr. Pepper a day like I used to. I’m supposed to test my blood sugar before every meal, and throughout the day if I’m eating anything. I have a shot of insulin after every meal, and before bed every night. I have to eat balanced meals, because the insulin I use works the best when there’s protein in the bloodstream with it, and if I didn’t have any carbohydrates I’d go low, which is the very worst feeling of all.
There are roughly 3 million people in the USA alone that have Type 1 Diabetes. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not a fat person disease. Lots of it is genetics. My brother’s was triggered by an ear infection that somehow worked its way down to his pancreas and started attacking it. Mine just happened. Diabetes is a life long disease. Insulin is not a cure; it’s a temporary fix. We’re still waiting on a cure. We’ll keep pricking, poking, and bleeding until a cure is found.