Sunday, January 20, 2013

Type 1 Diabetes

So early last year, exactly one week before Valentine’s day in fact, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes... or as I like to sometimes call it, the diabeetus. First I will tell you about how I found out (because I think it was kind of funny) and then what it actually means.

A blue circle is the symbol for diabetes
 I had some blood taken earlier in the week to test for all the standard things due to an unrelated eye issue I was having at the time known as Eyeritis. They wanted to try and figure out what might have been causing it. Skip forward a couple of days and I was getting ready for work in the morning when the phone rings. I answer and our family doctor is on the line which is no big deal because she is actually a long time close family friend, but she want's to talk to me which is a little unusual. She tells me that she got my blood results and I need to come into her practice as soon as possible, forget about going to work, just get there ASAP... and then she hangs up.

I have no idea what is going on, she didn't say what the reason I had to come in so urgently was other than it was in the results of my blood test. Being the person I am I immediately predicted the worst and instantly thought "it is terminal and I am going to die." I didn't tell anyone else what had just happened; I calmly packed up my things for work and left the house without a word.

In the car on the way there I forced myself to come to terms with my inevitable mortality and tried to imagine what it would be like to tell my friends and family that I was going to die. By the time I got to the doctor’s office I was pretty sure I had a pretty good handle on it and had pretty much accepted my fate. I walk in, the doctor ushers me straight through, I sit down, she looks at me sternly in the eyes and say's "you have type one diabetes."
What I use to test my blood every day

 I can honestly say I don't think I have ever been so glad to get bad news in my life, relief washed over me, I let out a big sigh and just smiled back at her. I think she was surprised at how well I was taking this news. My mum just so happens to work right next door to the practice and I told my doc asked if I wanted her to tell my mum for me, I agreed better her than me. After a few minutes of the boring diabetes information was being described to me like I was little child by one of the other doctors I suddenly hear the very familiar sound of my mum bursting into tears and getting hysterical. I was glad I agreed for the doc to tell her rather than doing it myself at that moment. I didn't really want to have to deal with that right then; I was going through my own shit. She bursts into the room and does the standard motherly stuff like hugs and crying etc. while I am just smiling like a dumb-ass the whole time.

The rest of the day consisted of learning about diabetes management which I will tell you a little bit about now.

I have Type 1 Diabetes, there is also Type 2 as well as Gestational Diabetes that make up the major three types. What all three have in common is the body's inability to process carbohydrates (sugars).

 Gestational Diabetes happens to some mothers during pregnancy. The following is described at
While the carbohydrate intolerance usually returns to normal after the birth, the mother has a significant risk of developing permanent diabetes while the baby is more likely to develop obesity and impaired glucose tolerance and/or diabetes later in life.

Type 2 Diabetes is the most common and also most widely known form of diabetes affecting 85-90% of all diabetics. If you have heard of Diabetes before, this is probably the type you are familiar with. This is sometimes a genetic issue and can sometimes happen to completely healthy people if there is a family history, but mostly it is caused by factors such as lack of exercise, bad diet, obesity, high blood pressure, and generally bad lifestyle choices. Type 2 can usually be treated with diet change, exercise, and medication, but sometimes it later requires regular injections if it worsens enough over time.

A hot girl holding what I use to inject insulin every day

Type 1 Diabetes is what I have. It accounts for around 10-15% of people with ongoing diabetes and therefor receives a whole lot less attention by media and doctors and research on it gets a whole lot less funding. Generally when I tell people I have "Type 1" diabetes they usually ask "is that the bad one?" and I cannot be bothered going into the specifics of the differences between the different types every single time so I usually just agree with them. Type 1 is an auto-immune disease were my own immune system attacks the cells that create insulin in my pancreas. It generally happens to younger people and used to be called juvenile-onset diabetes but also happens to people often as old as 40. It is generally considered to be triggered by viruses and is not preventable.

I am required to test my blood before every meal and also inject myself with insulin before nearly every meal depending on the carb count of the food and my blood sugar levels. I had to learn how to calculate the carb count of everything I eat and inject the right amount of insulin for each meal. If I inject too much I can go hypoglycaemic and pass out. If it's really bad I can fall into a coma (and die I guess). If it goes the other way and I don't inject and eat something with lots of carbs (sugars) me body tries to get rid of the excess blood sugar by eliminating it in the urine. This increases the amount of urine significantly, and often leads to dehydration so severe that it can cause seizures, coma, and even death. I need to have my insulin and blood testing until on me at all times as well as having a source of sugar nearby just in case I go into a hypo. I have to be very careful with my diet and try to exercise regularly (which is a little bit of an issue due to a heart problem I have right now that I will go into in another post).

Ongoing bad management of diabetes can cause many health problems in the long run... Fuck I'm just going to throw this in here for people that actually read this far, I am at work typing this up and one of the work guys just brought in a delicious cake made by his whife who is an amazing professional chef... and I just stood there and stared at them all eating that cake... FML.

Where was I? Oh yeah, health problems. If it is badly treated, or sometimes just after having the disease for many, many years, it can cause retina damage, kidney damage and kidney disease, increased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol. But the most commonly known one is nerve damage, particularly in the extremities such as feet and hands. Diabetes is the leading cause of amputation in the world and diabetics account for somewhere around 50% of all amputations.

And that's it, I'd be surprised if anyone actually read all of that, I know it's my longest ever post and has heaps of info but if anyone has any questions for me about anything at all please feel free to ask in the comments. Thanks for reading.

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