Monday, April 14, 2008

The Few, The Forgotten, The Type 1’s.

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.

Statements like:

“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?

Visit The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) website.

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!

And finally if you are lurking, feel free to ask questions about Type 1 Diabetes. I'll be happy to answer them.


Bernard said...

Wow Jillian, this is a great post. Thank you for expressing things so well.

dae said...

awesome post, jillian. you go! :)

Lea said...

You have an amazing way of expressing yourself and explaining things so well. AMAZING post, girl! :)

in search of balance said...

Here, here!

Kerri. said...

Jillian - as always, a very eloquent and insightful post.

Rock on!

Scott K. Johnson said...

Great post J!

Araby62 said...

Jillian, you are definitely who I picture as a survivor, in every sense of the word. What a wonderful post!

Colleen said...

Well done!!

Jillian said...

I feel terrible for not responding to these more swiftly. I didn't even realize I had 8 already. Okay here goes:

Thank you everyone for your kind words, compliments, and for what you shared today!

Allison said...

Hi Jillian- Thanks for sharing some of the T1 facts and thanks for commenting over at my blog. We do have alot in common!

Donna said...

This is excellent, Jillian. You stated everything perfectly. Thanks. :)

AmyT said...

Nicely said, Jillian.

Ashley said...

Fantastic post, Jillian!! Couldn't have said it better! Happy T1 Awareness Day!

k2 said...

Jillian -

Shannon said...

Well said, Jillian. Receiving understanding from people can go a long way....

Sara said...

Great post Jillian. The corporate sponsor at my JDRF walk this weekend called it juvenile diabetes and it made me a little angry. If only we could grow out of it!

He also pronounced it diabeetus (like the Liberty Medical guy), but that's a different story.

snd1590 said...

great post jillian.. you are awesome!!! :D

Auntly H said...

Well put! Thank you for raising your voice.

Naomi said...

Jillian, AGH the comment page doesn't like me today. I keep trying to post and it is ignoring me. So you might end up with three comments that are similar from me!

ANYWAY, that was an amazing post, SO well written and so complete! You blow me away!