Date: Monday, 13 November 2017
The Life of Type 1 Diabetic
Aaron Samuel Tukue
Type 1 Diabetes is a growing condition globally. However, the lack of awareness is an issue, which must be attended. Although we have emerging focus groups, gatherings and special events, society remains uninformed of the actuality of the life of a diabetic as the fundamental understanding of Type 1 Diabetes is not emphasized enough. Consequently, we cannot pragmatically treat the people we care about; therefore, I strongly believe it is in order that we educate as many people of the lifestyle of a diabetic.
To start off with, I would like to explain what the condition, Type 1 Diabetes, actually is. The pancreas is unable to produce any insulin, a hormone, which determines the amount of glucose in your blood. The instability of your blood glucose level (BG level) can go one of two ways. The recommended BG level is between 4-7. Hypoglycemia is when your BG level is below the range. Alternatively, hyperglycemia is when the BG level exceeds the range.
Symptoms of Hypoglycemia may include:
- Feeling shaky and irritable
- Tingling lips
- Feeling weak
- Feeling confused
- Slurred speech
IMPORTANT: A hypo can easily be treated with sugary foods or drinks. In an emergency, you can inject a hormone called glucagon which will raise your BG level.
Symptoms of Hyperglycemia may include:
- Extreme thirst
- Dry mouth
- Blurred Vision
- A frequent urge to urinate
IMPORTANT: To stabilize hyperglycemia, a suitable amount of insulin should allow for the BG level to be brought back down.
If hypo cases are not resolved, an individual may potentially enter a coma. If hyper cases are not dealt properly, a person with type 1 diabetes may develop diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) leading to many complications over time such as kidney failure, nerve damage, vision problems, poor healing of cuts and wounds, brain damage. Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is the leading cause of mortality in childhood diabetes. This is why it is imperative that you fully understand the severity of this condition, it is life changing. I urge you therefore if you notice these symptoms in a friend or your child or somebody you know, please be cautious that their BG level is stable.
However this brings us onto another concern of children. Young kids may often feel “different” to other kids and it is critical that you soothingly establish with the child that there is nothing “wrong” with them. Many kids psychologically are affected by the condition and they bring this insecurity with them to adulthood. I would like to quote R.J. Palacio “You can’t blend in when you are born to stand out”. The child must understand that their condition is part of their identity, but it cannot define who they are and more crucially, it cannot stop them from achieving their goals in life.
For parents who have kids who are diabetic, it can get stressful for you. However I am without a doubt you will do what is necessary to ensure your child’s health is adequate. Your child’s BG level still needs to be monitored during the night, this means you must wake up every few hours in the middle of the night to check the blood glucose levels to see if they are in range. Of course this is difficult and tiring, but this just further emphasizes the severity of Type 1 Diabetes and that the condition needs more attention.
Keeping the blood glucose level between 4-7 is very difficult, especially with teenagers and kids who are indulge in sweets and chocolates. HbA1c is the average BG level of an individual over several months. Ideally you want this between 5.9 and 7.2, however going higher or lower may not necessarily be too bad, just between those figures is what you should be striving for.
The most vital part of the life of Diabetes, is that you must not try and handle things alone. That perhaps could be considered the most dangerous thing to a diabetic. A single person trying to handle Diabetes is not going to work out for themselves or the diabetic. Utilize your friends and family to help out, perhaps with shifts of who monitors the BG levels. Consult a doctor or your local GP if you are unsure about something or perhaps create or join Facebook group. But be part of the diabetes community and share what you know to help ameliorate the lives of diabetics.