The Secret World of Type-1 Diabetes

My wife had a bent cannula that resulted in a BG of nearly 350, which threatened to put her in DKA. Thankfully the new site took, so she dropped back to under 100 without hitting hypoglycemia. It’s times like this that we’re thankful for our Dexcom.

If you don’t have Type-1 diabetes (or don’t live with someone who does), you probably have no idea what those first three sentences meant. Thus, T1 remains one of the most grossly misunderstood diseases in the world.

It’s so funny to me how T1 becomes its own language–something only those affected by it, be it directly or indirectly, understand. Like some tragical global brother/sisterhood, an instant connection accompanies meeting someone else familiar with the disease. “Is your pump Medtronic, too?” “How’s your A1C?” “Are you going to the Walk this year?”

As much as a science-fiction author can, I try to be a diabetes advocate. Obviously, being married to someone with Type-1, I have a vested interest in this. I want things to happen, I want people aware. I want a cure. But even beyond my wife’s affliction, it’s so striking at how juvenile diabetes is virtually ignored by the media. I’ll confess that I have an aversion to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, where everything in the world from cereal boxes to football jerseys somehow turns pink. But this is only because it’s immediately followed by National Diabetes Month, in which you can’t find a silver ribbon to save your life. Diabetes kills more people every year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. But it gets almost no attention. Awareness for breast cancer and AIDS is a good thing. I know some people who have been affected by (and have defeated) the former, and it’s truly a huge deal. But what are diabetics, chopped liver?

“The lack of media love is because you did it to yourself. You ate too much junk.”

I wish words could express the outrage that comes with that statement, and again, it all goes back to the total misunderstanding of what Type-1 is. You see, it is Type-2, Type-2, that has increased risks with unhealthy living. Type-1 is entirely different. So how do you get Type-1? You just do. There’s no underlying reason, there’s no thing that you did. You just get it, and it steers the rest of your life.

I want people to know that this disease is out there. I want people to know that Nicole Johnson, Miss America 1999, is one of Type-1’s biggest advocates. That Charlie Kimball, a successful Indy car racer, had to have his car designed to manage his diabetes while he’s driving. That Jay Cutler is the only Type-1 quarterback in NFL history, running a foundation specifically for improving the quality of life of children with the disease. I am extremely proud of all of these people. I am extremely proud of my wife, who is a CDE (that’s Certified Diabetes Educator, for those not in the diabetes club). I’m extremely proud of anyone who lives with the disease, or who lives with someone who does. I see what they go through. I know the challenges they face on a daily basis. If I ever got diagnosed with Type-1, I’d be dead in a week. It is a hard, hard lifestyle to maintain. But they maintain it. And that speaks volumes.

Anyone who wants to learn more about diabetes can check out the JDRF’s website about it, here. And consider doing a Walk for Diabetes when they come around every November. Breast cancer and AIDS deserve their recognition. Unabashedly, so does Type-1.

Kerri Morrone Sparling runs a pretty darn good diabetes blog (I’ve also linked it to the side of Room-14). She offers a lot of great insight as to life with the disease. Anyone who knows Type-1 will immediate relate to her posts. It’s good reading for anyone wanting a glimpse at the daily affect diabetes can have.

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