Today is Raise Your Voice for Type 1 Diabetes Awareness Day
First some facts:
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease. There is absolutely no way to prevent it. There are no bad habits or lifestyle choices to blame. No one knows exactly why each case is caused. There can be families full of Type 1 Diabetics or families like mine where I stand alone. No special diets, miracle pills, or insane exercise routines will regenerate the insulin producing cells that were killed by our immune systems. Insulin is a hormone that would naturally, in a person without Type 1 Diabetes, allow the body to accept the glucose in food to provide energy; it also constantly stabilizes blood sugar. Because we (people with Type 1) don’t have those insulin producing cells anymore, we must inject or pump insulin. To do this we use a complicated system of numbers matching every gram of carbohydrate we eat and our current blood glucose numbers to units of insulin. But you have to always keep in mind your activity level, daily stress, and the different affect each type of food has on your body. It’s a challenge, and one false move can mean disaster. If the balance isn’t just right, it can mean hypoglycemia (blood glucose goes too low) and a possible 911 call or hyperglycemia (blood glucose goes too high) and the possibility of future complications, like amputation or kidney disease.
Now some feelings:
Although the onset of Type 1 Diabetes is usually (some Type 1’s are diagnosed much later in life) during childhood, it is not only a childhood disease. We don’t trade in our meters, pumps, insulin, and syringes for voter registration cards on our 18th birthdays. The majority of us have taken this disease through many phases of our lives. Our first day of school, our high school graduations, our first jobs, our weddings, and sadly it will eventually accompany us to our funerals if a cure is not found.
I think I speak for the majority of Type 1’s when I say that we feel like second class People with Diabetes. The term Diabetes gets tossed around very freely and 99% of the time the term Type 2 Diabetes should be used. Think about what you’ve heard on TV lately.
“Obesity causes Diabetes.”
“With the help of such and such diet pill/plan I’ve cured my Diabetes.”
“Lower your risk for Diabetes”.
The fact is the media chooses to use these incorrect phrases for the simple fact that Type 2 Diabetes is the more common disease, but that doesn’t make it right. These statements make it harder for each and every person with Type 1 Diabetes to rise above the stigma of the “Diabetes” label. We did not cause this disease, and really many people with Type 2 Diabetes haven’t done anything to “cause” their disease either. We can’t just lose weight to make it go away. Popping a special pill won’t give us control. Type 1 Diabetes is life long.
If you don’t have Type 1 Diabetes or know someone with it, think about it like this:
I have had this disease for almost 12 years, since the age of 5. Name one thing that you have been dealing with for 11 plus years or since the age of 5 that requires constant attention that you never choose to commit to… I can’t think of many other things except for other health related issues. I can’t quit this disease like I quit the T-ball team when I was 6. I can’t cut it off like I did with my hair last year when it was driving me insane. I can’t divorce Type 1 Diabetes.
I don’t want sympathy.
I don’t want pity.
I want understanding.
I want people to become more educated and aware that there is more than just “Diabetes”.
How can you become more aware or spread awareness?
Make a Donation to help find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.
Read a complete overview of what Type 1 Diabetes including a list of symptoms.
Donate to my personal JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes fund raising goal.
Peak into the lives of people documenting living one year with Diabetes (of all types) through photographs.
Go thank Kerri for organizing this for us!