Tuesday, July 26, 2016

How's the Diabetes Going? The Sarcastic Truth

Well-meaning friend or family member: "How's your diabetes going?"
Me: "Fine, thanks." (More info depending on how close I am to the person...)

What I actually want to say:
"Well, I have a useless pancreas, so I have to prick my finger and check my blood sugar at least four times a day, every day, and wear this device that's super sexy 24/7 that constantly pumps insulin into my body, so that I don't die. I have to count every carbohydrate that I eat, and let my pump know so that it can adjust the insulin I receive, so that's really fun, too. If I accidentally overestimate my carb count, I get too much insulin, and then I get all sweaty and confused, and I could die from that too. So, yeah...good times."

People may not know how to respond to all of that, so "Fine, thanks," seems to work better.

I have Type 1 Diabetes. Yes, I'm sure it's Type 1. Yes, I was a grown up and pregnant when I was diagnosed...yeah, it's still Type 1. No, it wasn't gestational. Yes, again. I am sure. No, no one else in my family has Type 1. No, that's not weird.

Real quick diabetes lesson for you:

Type 1 (Only 5% of people with diabetes have this kind...yeah, I not bragging that I'm in the 5%, it sucks)- Your pancreas is basically useless and creates little to no insulin so you have to inject (either with a pump or a needle injection) insulin so that your blood sugar doesn't rise too high. Type 1 has a very small genetic factor. My children only have a 5-10% chance of getting Type 1 Diabetes. It is an autoimmune disorder and can be diagnosed at any age. There is no cure at this time.

Type 2 - (The other 95%) Your pancreas is still creating insulin, but your body isn't using it efficiently. The great thing about Type 2 is that sometimes it can be just controlled with diet and exercise, or even reversed. Some people have to take medication and/or insulin. It is usually diagnosed in adulthood, although there are beginning to be cases in childhood due to childhood obesity being on the rise. Bad news, if you have it, there is a 50% chance your kids will, too.

Gestational Diabetes - Same as Type 2, but generally it goes away once you deliver the baby. BUT... you have a 50% or higher chance of getting Type 2 later in life.

The Diagnosis Story:

I had never heard of A1C before I got diabetes. It is a blood test that looks
at the last 3 months at the sugar levels in your blood.
It is supposed to be under 5.7
When diagnosed, my A1C was 11.
In October, I was in my 24th week of my 4th pregnancy when I got a terrible sinus infection. Then, all of the sudden, I dropped 10 pounds and couldn't keep any food down. I wound up in the emergency room and they diagnosed me with gestational diabetes and admitted me overnight.

Enter my endocrinologist (this is a doc that specializes in the endocrine system) I already had an endo doc because I have thyroid issues (yeah, another autoimmune disorder....I'm pretty much an autoimmune nightmare.) Anyway, in comes my endo to the hospital to inform all of the other dummy doctors that just because I am pregnant does not mean it is gestational diabetes. She runs more tests and assures me that I have Type 1 Diabetes. She brings me a meter to read my blood sugar and insulin pens to inject my insulin.
This is the type of pump I have...
yeah, I wish that was my stomach,
but I have had 4 kids. 

Of course, we hope that she is wrong for the rest of my pregnancy, but she was able to get me an insulin pump from my insurance by proving to them that I am Type 1 in December.

 After I delivered my baby,  (yes, she is healthy, perfectly normal and does not have diabetes) I took off the insulin pump and watched my blood sugar rise to scary highs. I did this several times over the course of the next month or so. Apparently my endo knows what she's talking about. My pancreas is broken for good.

Ok, so I have a list of the top 10 things to please not say to me or any Type 1 Diabetic:

1. You don't look like a diabetic.
Seriously? What does that look like? You mean I'm not overweight? Not even all Type 2 diabetics are overweight!

2. I just couldn't give myself shots or prick my finger.
Well, the alternative is death...soooooo.....

3. Oh, sorry, you can't eat that.
Is it poisoned? Type 1 diabetics can eat ANYTHING they want, they just have to inject the correct amount of insulin. For me personally, I have found that sticking to the Paleo diet keeps my blood sugar from spiking high too much,(lol, "sticking" is the key word, I like food ALOT;) so if I want to have a Dr Pepper and some Hot Tamales, I can for sure have some! Type 1 diabetics do need to eat some sugar to keep blood sugar levels from dipping too low as well.  

4. My grandfather has diabetes, so all you have to do is watch what you eat and exercise and it will go away.
I am glad that you are an expert on diabetes. I wish diet and exercise would make my pancreas magically start working again. That would be lovely. (See Type 1 vs Type 2 above...moron.)

5. I guess you ate too much sugar...
Yeah, no. There is no known way to prevent Type 1 Diabetes.

6. You must have Type 2. Children get Type 1.
It is true that Type 1 used to be called "Juvenile Diabetes." However, every year, 15,000 children AND 15,000 adults in the U.S. are diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. The diagnosis can come at any time. Luckily for me, my pancreas decided to work for 35 years! 

7. Thank goodness you have the pump! You are basically cured!
Ummmm....no. My pump is great. It does the math for me so I don't have to calculate my insulin doses. But it is not a working pancreas. Your pancreas is controlling your blood sugar right now. Mine is lazy and useless.   

 8. Does it hurt when you prick you finger?
Nah, feels great. Give me your finger and let me stick a needle into it, over and over...

9. My great uncle had diabetes and he had to have his foot amputated...and he went blind. But he didn't take care of himself...
Great, thanks. If someone said they had cancer would you immediately start telling your scariest cancer tales? Why should diabetes be any different? It's not...

10. At least it is a manageable disease!
I mean, if we are gonna rank diseases, there are worse ones out there. I didn't write this to complain or say "woe is me" about having diabetes. I watched my mom die of stomach cancer...it was a million times worse. If I have to live with diabetes, but get to see my kids graduate from college and meet my grandchildren, yes, I will manage. But don't write it off like it doesn't affect those of us who have it. It is something we have to deal with every single day. 

Well, if you made it this far, consider yourself Type 1 educated. Congrats and thanks for bearing with me!


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