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Type 1 Diabetes Finally Explained

Type 1 Diabetes Finally Explained

Type 1 Diabetes Finally Explained

Let me say this with no exaggeration. My whole life, all day, all night, every day and each night is about keeping my blood sugar between the red and yellow lines. Whether I’m wearing, or not wearing, my continuous glucose monitor (CGM), screen pictured below.
(The little white dots between the red and yellow lines are my blood sugar levels every five minutes. The 99 mg/dl (5.4 mmol/l) was my blood sugar level the moment I took this photo. The larger white dots are glare from the camera.)
I just explained this “staying between the lines” to my mother, now being able to visibly show her on my monitor what I’ve long tried to tell her: Type 1 diabetes is a tightrope walk — all day and all night taking action to anticipate, prevent and recover from my blood sugar going too high and too low.
My life is, and will forever be, staying between the lines.
I got diabetes in February 1972 when I was 18 years old. I’m now 60. I’ve had diabetes more than four decades, more than two-thirds of my life. I have no memory of what life was like before “staying between the lines.”
Type 1 diabetes is the other diabetes. The one you don’t hear about on TV commercials — that’s Type 2 diabetes. People with Type 2 diabetes produce insulin but not enough or their body doesn’t use it effectively.
While people with Type 2 diabetes also must keep their blood sugar between the lines, it doesn’t require as intense effort. Even for those who take insulin, certain hormones they have that Type 1s lack, help to regulate their after meal blood sugars from rising too high and offset Continue reading

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The Friends & Family Guide to Type 1 Diabetes

The Friends & Family Guide to Type 1 Diabetes

Maybe it’s the friend’s child next door or a member in the family who has Type 1 diabetes. Perhaps you’ll be in charge of care at some point or are simply interested in learning more about T1. Consider this guide to help you navigate Type 1 as a friend or family member.
What is Type 1?
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that affects a person’s pancreas. The pancreas is responsible for producing insulin, a hormone people need to get energy from food. Our pancreas, for reasons that have not been identified, does not produce any insulin. As a result, we need to inject or continually infuse insulin through a pump and carefully balance our insulin doses with eating and daily activities. We must also regularly monitor our blood-sugar levels. Type 1 is a non-stop and 24/7 balancing act that we must maneuver every day. There is no way to prevent Type 1 and there is no cure (currently!).
How do you manage it?
We get by with a little help from our friends! These include our glucose meter, insulin, needles, and monitors. The glucose meter is a device that measures blood sugar. We use a device that pricks our finger and we put the blood sample onto a test strip. From there, the test strip is read by the meter and gives us a number on the meter screen.
We can get insulin into our bodies through multiple daily injections or an insulin pump.
Injections are delivered to our bodies through insulin pens and needles. There are two types of insulin that we use. Fast-acting insulin gives our bodies insulin right away and is taken with meals or to correct a high blood sugar. Fast-a Continue reading

Parenting a Child With Type 1 Diabetes

Parenting a Child With Type 1 Diabetes

I can picture him now — his eyes were bloodshot from chronic sleep deprivation, his hands shaky from anxiety; he talked like someone stuck in a losing battle from which there was no escape; he was angry, scared, and unsettled and had no idea what to do next. He was a parent of a young child with Type 1 diabetes. I met with him (and his daughter) years ago because I was a therapist who also happened to have Type 1 diabetes. We weren’t meeting in any official capacity — it was arranged through a family friend who knew this man and his daughter were going through an incredibly tough transition and figured I would be the person to talk to, given my combination of personal and professional experience.
I have seen that combination of fear, helplessness, and exhaustion in parents several times since, and every time I see it, my heart goes out to them. Being a parent of a child with Type 1 diabetes is not easy! I say this as someone who hasn’t had the experience of being a parent, but as someone who has lived with Type 1 diabetes for over 23 years. So I don’t presume to know what it must feel like to parent a child with this disease, but I hope that my combination of experiences might mean I have some meaningful advice to give to those of you who are in this most stressful situation.
You have diabetes, too
A friend of mine raising a five-year-old with Type 1 once said that she and her husband felt like they had “Type 3” diabetes. I thought that was a great description. She explained that in many ways, it really felt like she might as well have diabetes, since the mana Continue reading

November 14 is World Diabetes Day

November 14 is World Diabetes Day

Millions of people around the world unite and celebrate on November 14 in honour of World Diabetes Day (WDD). WDD is a day created to draw awareness to the growing concerns surrounding diabetes and the escalating health threat it poses. Over 300,000 Canadians currently live with type 1 diabetes (T1D), the most devastating form of the disease, as T1D is not caused by diet or lifestyle and is not preventable.
We are counting on you this November 14, to help raise awareness by showing the T1D community that you are standing behind them in the fight for a cure. Help raise awareness by drawing a circle on your index finger and send us a picture showing you stick it to diabetes! The first 50 people who email their picture to [email protected] will receive a pair of JDRF branded, UV ray protection sunglasses in WDD and JDRF blue! We will also be featuring your pictures in a Facebook album showing there’s strength in numbers as we all join in the fight against diabetes.
Don’t forget, raising funds is even more crucial during this special month and every dollar counts! We are counting on you this month to help bring us closer to a cure. Show your support for WDD by making a donation to JDRF here: jdrf.ca/countingonu. Each donor will receive a JDRF Fling Ring, pictured below. There is strength in numbers, and we’re all counting on you to help us conquer T1D. Continue reading

Diabetes: Taking steps to prevent amputation

Diabetes: Taking steps to prevent amputation

The Preservation Amputation Care and Treatment (PACT) program in Nashville decreased amputation rates by 40% in patients with diabetes. Here’s how they did it.
Clinicians who treat the lower extremity know that of all the pathology that can affect it, few medical problems present more challenge, are more complex, cause more damage and result in wounds more difficult to heal than those caused by the co-morbidities of diabetes. Chronically elevated blood glucose levels are responsible for the processes that impair the neurological, vascular, and immune systems, which can result in a variety of medical problems to the lower extremity of the patient with diabetes.
When it comes to the foot and leg, we know with almost 100% certainty how they will be affected by diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy and its three subcategories — autonomic neuropathy, sensory neuropathy and motor neuropathy — can leave the lower extremity vulnerable to silent or painless trauma. That is the triggering event that can ultimately lead to lower extremity amputation. A compromised circulatory system fails to bring enough fresh oxygenated blood, nutrients, and antibiotics to a traumatic wound, and the immune system cannot resolve an infection by fighting bacteria and cleansing the wound site on a cellular level.
The results are tragic. In the United States, infected foot ulcers are the most frequent admitting diagnosis for hospitalization of patients with diabetes. In 2003, there were about 111,000 hospital discharges for lower extremity ulcers.1 There are more than 90,000 lower extremity amputation proc Continue reading

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