World Diabetes Day 2017 Post
Today is World Diabetes Day.
World Diabetes Day was established in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation to highlight this worldwide epidemic. Nov 14th was chosen as the date because it is the birth date of Dr. Frederick Banting, who co-discovered insulin in 1921. Without this discovery I would have died before I started school.
This year’s theme is ‘Women and diabetes – our right to a healthy future.’ The aim is to highlight the importance of affordable health care for women living with diabetes, wherever they live in the world and regardless of their financial circumstances. Essential diabetes medication and equipment, information, education and medical assistance should be available to all.
There is still a huge amount of ignorance and stigma attached to diabetes. This makes getting a diabetes diagnosis harder than it needs to be. It is a steep learning curve for the newly diagnosed, but there is a lot of help and support out there.
Here is a small sample of the thoughts of people, who have been diagnosed in the past year or so:
‘I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on March 31st at the age of 28. My mum also has Type 1 so I recognised the symptoms quickly enough and managed to avoid a *DKA. Giving myself my first injection was terrifying as I have a fear of needles, but I have gotten used to giving them now as they do not hurt.
One of Tilly’s Instagram posts:
“Dreamiest of brunches earlier, bolused 💉 8u for 🍞 bread that I requested 🙋🏻 be weighed out by the kitchen (yes I’m that person 🙊) but I still went low 📉😠 better rethink my ratios for this heat 🔥”
Tilly had a delayed diagnosed and she felt unwell for so long that feeling poorly and losing weight had become ‘normal’ to her. She first attended her Doctor on the 15th of Sept 2016, but wasn’t diagnosed and treated until the 29th of Sept. That is a disgrace. T1 is easily diagnosed. Any delay can have very serious consequences. See Tilly’s diagnosis story and other very interesting blogs on https://sweettilly.com/2017/09/29/my-diagnosis-story/
What to do if you have symptoms: http://theartisandiabetic.ie/dont-delay/
After her eventual diagnosis, it was a shock to her (as it is to most people) that T1 involved more than giving a few injections each day. She had to accept that she will have to figure out how many carbs are in every meal and how much insulin to give – that varies from person to person and even for the same person at different times of the day. When she is eating in a restaurant she also has to figure out how long it will take food to arrive so that she can give her insulin at the right time, not too early (or she will get a hypo) and not too late (her blood sugar will spike as soon as she eats the food). All this while she hopes nobody will stare at her while she checks her blood sugar and gives here insulin. This is just a small snippet of her day. She is constantly on alert for low blood sugars, as most of us are.
One of Lucy’s Instagram posts:
“As many people are diagnosed with Type 1 over the age of 30 as under.”
Lucy lost loads of weight and had other typical T1 symptoms. “A few weeks later I finally had some blood tests and was called in urgently to see my GP with an HbA1C of 15% or 142. He then went on to do more tests and to tell me that I had Type 2 Diabetes…
How the conversation then went… Me: But how can I, I’m only 30?? GP: Exactly, you’re too old to get Type 1. Me (trying not to cry): But I eat really healthily?? GP: Oh yeah sure, alongside all that Coca-Cola you drink. To be fair he did at least send me to A&E as an emergency.”
“I’m sharing my story because there’s stigma around diabetes everywhere you turn and it’s preventing people getting diagnosed and the right help. If you’re thirsty, thin, tired and need the toilet a lot then get some blood tests done.” Lucy was eventually diagnosed with T1 diabetes.
Sound advice. As Lucy points out many people are diagnosed with T1 when they are adults. There is an assumption, even among some of the medical profession that T1 is only diagnosed in children and that adults get T2.
In another post, Lucy writes: “My blood sugars yesterday, where it looks like a small child trying to write their name, versus today’s blood sugars. Very little I’ve done differently and yet totally different results 🙃🙃🙃 The other noticeable difference is how great my mood has been today… 😂”
One of Olivia’s Instagram posts:
Under a picture of herself, she writes: ‘This photo was taken on 10 December 2016, just five days before I was diagnosed with T1D. The week prior, I had made an appointment with the doctor to have a routine check, as I was planning to start a family and hadn’t had a blood test in a few years. By the time my appointment came around, I had lost 2.5kgs. I know this doesn’t seem like a lot, but I always remain the same weight and so I was alarmed, and every day after that I continued to lose around half a kilo a day! On the day I went back to get my results, I was struggling to read the computer screen at work, was tired and a bit dizzy. The doctor said my BGL was 16.5 and so was given the choice to go to hospital or wait until the new year. As my younger brother also has T1, I went straight to hospital and am so glad I did!’
Another of Olivia’s posts:
Just another workday, reminiscing about these amazing blueberry pancakes I had on the weekend! Every time I try something new or something that works I have been writing down how many units of insulin I took or whether it requires a split dose to save me from having to take the risk and guess/calculate every time, definitely makes life much easier!’
I am a great advocate of writing things down in a notebook. I forget, especially for foods I only have occasionally or activities that I rarely do.
One of Heather’s Instagram posts:
“I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes during my last year of medical school. I see my diagnosis as a blessing, as my diabetes serves as a reminder every single day to take ownership of my health and listen intuitively to my body. Type 1 Diabetes is not about getting dealt a ”losing” deck of cards but learning how to play that deck to the best of our ability. Ultimately, being a Type 1 Diabetic has given me that much more motivation to lead a balanced life. It’s frightening to think that I had learned of all the “red flag” signs of diabetes in medical school, yet when it came to myself I brushed each and every symptom off, attributing everything to “Nah it’s only stress.” (Let’s just say my differential diagnosis was a bit off…) I hope that my experiences as a TID, and the lessons learned through trial and (many) errors, extend beyond my own story, and allow me to help others facing this disease as a future physician. My name is Heather and this is how I live beyond!”
Another of Heather’s posts:
“Both children and adults like me who live with type 1 diabetes need to be mathematicians, physicians, personal trainers, & dietitians all rolled into one. We need to be constantly factoring & adjusting, making frequent finger sticks to check blood sugars, & giving ourselves multiple daily insulin injections just to stay alive.”
-Mary Tyler Moore 💁🏻Pro-tip: As diabetics, we are forced to wear many hats, most of which we weren’t prepared for when diagnosed. There’s no one-size-fits all solution, so trust your unique strengths to overcome challenges. Diabetes is a balancing act – learn from it & roll with it. That’s the whole # diabeauty of life, after all.
Heather has a great website with lovely recipes and great hints and tips http://www.doctordiabeatit.com/ Her diagnosis story is well worth a read.
*Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) is one of the most serious, life-threatening complications of type one diabetes. Many people have DKA by the time they are diagnosed. This can lead to T1 complications later in life, no matter how well it is managed. The best way to prevent this is to know the symptoms of T1 and get checked out if you notice the symptoms in yourself or your child. If a friend or colleague complains of the symptoms advise them to get checked promptly. Better to find out that you don’t have it than risk getting very seriously ill and going unconscious.