7 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Type 1 (Juvenile) Diabetes: A Guest Post by Christy
In August 2008, our three year old son, Andrew, was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. For weeks he had been drinking tons of water, urinating much more than he was taking in and was eating everything in sight. We knew something was going on and when we got his diagnosis we weren’t really sure what we were up against.
The first week was awful. Andrew spent the first day after diagnosis in the ICU because his blood sugar had been so high for so long that he was in Diabetic Ketoacidosis and had to be stabilized. (Diabetic Ketoacidosis occurs when the body cannot break down glucose for energy and in turn starts to burn fat. Ketones are an acid that results from this fat breakdown and an accumulation of these acids in the body can be dangerous and at times deadly.) The following three days in the hospital were spent learning how to care for him once we got home. We learned how to check his blood sugar levels, how to draw up and inject his insulin, how to calculate how much insulin he needs and to recognize danger signs of lows and highs.
We did not get much support from those in our lives we had hoped and thought would be there for us. I realized that a lot of it was due to the fact that people just didn’t understand what we were really dealing with. So, in my attempt to educate people in order to prevent someone else feeling what we felt, I compiled this list of things I wish everyone knew about Type 1 Diabetes.
1. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks and destroys all of the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. No one knows for sure what exactly triggers this autoimmune response, but it is currently not anything that can be prevented and is NOT caused by poor eating, lack of exercise or bad parenting.
2. INSULIN IS NOT A CURE!!! There is currently no proven cure for Type 1 Diabetes. Unlike Type 2 Diabetes (the more commonly discussed type), eating better and exercising won’t reverse it.
3. People with Type 1Diabetes will be dependent on insulin for their entire lives and must take it to survive.
4. Monitoring blood sugar levels is a must! Some people check their children’s blood sugar levels 10 or more times a day.
5. Exercise can cause high blood sugars or low blood sugars – and lows can happen up to 12 hours after exercise.
6. Children with Type 1 Diabetes CAN have things with sugar! In fact, they, like everyone else, need sugars to produce energy. While foods with rapid acting sugars like juice, candy and frostings are to be used sparingly, they can still be had.
7. Parents of children with diabetes NEED other people in their lives to learn how to monitor and care for their children in case there is an emergency or in the rare event they actually have a date night!
Please take the last thing to heart and when you hear of a family affected by Type 1 Diabetes don’t hesitate to ask questions and if possible learn the basics to help. The parents will love you and appreciate you more than you’ll ever know!!!