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Type 1 Diabetes. What is it?
First, I am not a doctor, nor am I a considered a professional in the endocrinology field. This post is Type 1 Diabetes as I understand it. Plain and simple. I have my theories, my weird way of explaining things, and my analogies and metaphors. If you think you, or someone you love, has Type 1 go see a doctor. They have fancy things to poke you with and scare tactics to administer.
Second, This is specific to Type 1 Diabetes. Not Type 2. They are VERY different disease that just happens to involve the relationship between the body an insulin. Type 1’s don’t make any and will die without shotting up with the synthetic stuff, while Type 2’s make their own insulin to varying degrees but do not use it effectively. Type 2 diabetics did not ‘do this to themselves’ so don’t go there. Just… don’t. Lifestyle has an effect, yes. But NO ONE chooses diabetes. That’s a rant for another day. Both diseases are serious, and both diseases are not to be taken lightly. What is Type 1 Diabetes? rebekahisawkward.com Rebekah Svensson Juvenile Diabetes, T1D
Some Factoids About Type 1
- It’s an autoimmune disease.
- Less than 5% of all diabetics are Type 1.
- It is also referred to as Juvenile Diabetes because it is most commonly diagnosed in childhood.
- There is no cure, only maintenance.
- Synthetic insulin is used now (since the early ’80s) but prior it was pig and cow insulin. Can you imagine?!
- Carbs are what you count in order to calculate how much insulin you take.
- Both high and low blood sugars can be deadly. It’s is a constant tightrope walk over a pit of death.
- There is a genetic component, but it is not definitive.
- EVERYTHING affects blood sugar. Literally. The sun coming up, what type of grain is used in my bread, to having a mild cold all cause different reactions and it’s never the same day to day.
- Type 1 Diabetics are considered at higher risk for essentially every health risk out there.
- We’re freakin’ badass warriors.
Basically, my immune system got all pissed off due to leaky gut and was walking around like a pissed off dude in a bar (My body) looking for a fight. Then I got sick with some sort of virus (Immune system get s some bad tequila shots lets say) that made my immune system gets drunk and is pushed over the edge. So now he’s all pissed off, destroyed the glasses that the tequila was in but is still in fight mode from being constantly on edge thanks to leaky gut. Then, he spots islet cells, the sweet innocent little accountant of blood sugar and maker of insulin and decides to kill him… because the insulin he’s making might kinda sorta resemble the tequila Immune system just destroyed? This part is fuzzy, but it’s a heinous bar fight and Immune System is a drunk asshole and islet cells winds up dead. Leaving the bar (my body) with no production of insulin.
This is my go-to response for explaining any autoimmune disease. Leaky gut pisses off immune system who then goes and kills something in the presence of a trigger. Super basic, probably at least a little inaccurate, but it’s what happened… my immune system attacked some crucial part of my body and killed it. What is Type 1 Diabetes? rebekahisawkward.com Rebekah Svensson Juvenile Diabetes, T1D
Leaky Gut? Genetics? Trigger?
Ok, so Y’all can stop the eye roll RIGHT MEOW. I mean it. Leaky gut is a real thing. We beat up our intestines, which includes the majority of our immune system, with our SAD diet ( Standard American Diet, yo. It sucks and we need to do better) which leads to the stuff that we need to keep IN out intestines getting OUT. Which causes inflammation, illness, mental health issues, and a host of other problems. I combat Leaky Gut for me and my family primarily with Juice Plus and healthy choices, but in our world of food, this is hard.
Yeah, they’re a thing. You need a specific couple of genes in order to be considered ‘at risk’ of certain autoimmune disease. I’m not going to play expert here and try and teach you about genetic code or which ones are the ones that are the problematic ones. But, yes, you do need the right genetic code to get Type 1 Diabetes. I remember being given a blood test was back in the ’90s to see if I had them…and they weren’t sure. I’m pretty sure they’ve got it nailed down more now since I know my older son has the right genes at least.What is Type 1 Diabetes? rebekahisawkward.com Rebekah Svensson Juvenile Diabetes, T1D
The trigger. This is hotly contested, but I believe you need a trigger to set off the drunk asshole that is the immune system. In my case, it was mostly Strep Throat that I had at the end of my sophomore year in high school.
Here’s my ball park assumption: Leaky Gut+ required genetics+ trigger= Type 1 Diabetes.
Why isn’t there a cure?
Honestly, I don’t think there ever will be a cure. There are too many moving parts. We’ll keep getting better and better at managing it. I mean hell, my pump has Auto mode on it now! I went from taking 4-10 shorts a day using 2 different types of insulin, to using one in a pump, to using a pump with a glucose sensor, to using a pump/sensor combo that can make corrections on their own. All in less than 20 years…so yeah I have a shitload of hope. Just not for a cure. I’m ok with that.
Let’s get random
This disease consumes me every day. It takes up so much of my mental capacity that I have all these thoughts… but no real way to compile them into a pretty list. So we’re going with awkward here. Deal with it. What is Type 1 Diabetes? rebekahisawkward.com Rebekah Svensson Juvenile Diabetes, T1D
Let’s talk carbs
Carbs get all the hate these days. And while I get it, they also do play a vital role, when eaten in moderation, for our bodies. Our bodies do NOT like to burn fat. We can trick it into burning fat, but meh. And before you ask, no I can’t just cut carbs and stop taking insulin. Sugar is also in fruits and some vegetables. Wait, sugar? I thought we were talking carbs? Well here’s a crash course for you. Protein is the most complex form of sugar and takes the longest to break down, then there are the complex carbs that we know and love (pasta and bread), and then there’s sugar. The baked goods kind and the super simple kind found in fruit. It ALL counts for a Type 1 Diabetic, they just work over different time periods and in different conditions. It’s a constant math nightmare.
Highs and Lows
Low blood suagrs are emergent. They can cause you to lose conciousness, have a seizure, or just…die. High blood sugars can put you into a coma, destroy your organs, and essentially cuase your body to rot. There is no winning, just trying really fucking hard to stay within an acceptable range. Which is damn near impossible for many of us because every day is different. I work HARD to keep my blood suagr between 70-180. I was in the upper 300’s today. Why? I have no clue. That’s hormones for ya I guess.
Juvenile…or not Juvenile?
At 16, I was considered ‘old’ when I was diagnosed. I know of adults diagnosed recently. It can literally happen at any age, and the older you are the more you have to fight to make sure your diagnosis is accurate. Type 1 misdiagnosed at Type 2 is essentially a death sentence, or at least that’s how I feel about it.
I am labeled ‘high risk’ for everything. Pregnancy was brutal mainly because I was told every 7.3 seconds how my babies would be fat and unhealthy and die immediately (they weren’t and they didn’t). Go pick up a box of cold medicine. It says ‘Diabetics consult your doctor’. It’s on EVERYTHING. I have priority to get a flu shot, a pneumonia shot (I’m 33 folks, I don’t NEED a pneumonia shot!) I’m being reminded every minute that everyone considers you incapable of taking care of yourself. It’s annoying and unnecessary. Yes, some diabetics are extremely brittle. Yes, some people choose not to be meticulous. But, for the most part, I am healthier than the average person. I just manage my blood sugar myself.
Let’s wrap this up
I could probably go on for a lot longer here, but I won’t. People won’t read it, and the whole point of doing this is for it to help someone. No one is helps if I turn into a Stephen King novel. So that’s it. Maybe I’ll expand more in the future, but for now I am going to go check my blood sugar and have a gladd of wine.