Facts & myths About type one diabetes
Updated: Oct 22, 2019
According to the American Diabetes Association, there are roughly 1.25 million Americans with type one diabetes. While there are people everywhere with this disease, I constantly hear things like "Oh, you must have eaten too much sugar and that's why you have diabetes" or, my personal favorite, "I thought diabetics were supposed to be overweight." Yep. Actual things I've heard from complete strangers. I love it when people ask to learn more about T1D so I'm here to lay down a few facts and myths about diabetes.
Fact: Type one diabetes is an autoimmune disease where your pancreas no longer produces insulin. To put it simply, every time the average human eats, their body automatically generates enough insulin to break down carbohydrates and stabilize their blood sugars (what your doctor checks when they prick your finger).
Fact: Since we have a case of #lazypancreas, we have to do the work ourselves. Lucky for us, technology has come a long way and there are several ways to monitor our blood glucose/sugar levels. Some people use shots to regulate and others use an insulin pump. I personally love the insulin pump because you don't have to constantly poke yourself with a needle all day. I've had the Omni Pod for about a year now and I LOVE IT. Y'all, that means I'm #wireless! AKA my pump can talk to the pod on my arm and tell it how much insulin to give me without being connected to a tube. So dang cool. There's also a device called the Continuous Glucose Monitor, which is a separate attachment on your body (if you have a pump as well this means two separate attachments at all times). The CGM checks your blood sugars automatically every 5 minutes, sends it to your smart phone, and therefore creates a graph that shows your trends so you can see if your blood sugars are going up or down at all times. Plot Twist: My mom, dad and fiance can also see what my sugars are on their phones at all times. Hello, constant phone calls and texts.
Fact: Diabetes is 100% manageable but requires 24/7 attention. I constantly thank God for giving me diabetes because I know that there are much worse things that I could have been given. However, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into managing T1D. What people don't often see is the tired young girl whose ready to jump into bed, but is delayed by the reminder that you have to change your pump site. What they don't see are the bloody pump sites that won't let up or the risk of seizures during the night. My point in telling you this is not to gain sympathy, for a bad day with diabetes is still a good day compared to what others face in this world. I tell you this to raise awareness into the daily life of a diabetic. To help you empathize with those you meet or know who manage T1D.
Fact: Type one diabetes does not change our quality of life as long as we use the available tools to manage it effectively.
Myth: Lawd have mercy I've got the sugars. But that's not why I have diabetes. I've been told, or have overheard, more times than I can count, that I have diabetes due to an excessive intake of sugars. Can you say, #FakeNews? This can be the cause of type two diabetes, but it's not the cause of type one, which is known as juvenile diabetes because it's common in young children or adults. Type two requires different types of monitoring and is common in older adults.
Myth: Many people believe that if you're diabetic, you're supposed to be overweight and if you're not, you'll eventually gain weight. This is more common in type two diabetics, but isn't often the case for type one diabetics. However, weight control can often be more difficult to maintain if you don't take care of your blood sugar levels.
My hope in writing this is to enlighten you on what type one diabetes is, how it's managed, and to give you a better idea of what a day in the life of a diabetic looks like. If you ever have any questions about diabetes, or know someone who has been recently diagnosed or needs a bit of encouragement, please forward them my information: firstname.lastname@example.org