Morbid, I know, but true. Cancer gets so much attention and so many people do fund raisers and awareness because it’s a disease that people see. There is the well known Komen foundation, people change the color of their Facebook profile picture for cancer awareness, there is Cancer awareness day, there are pink ribbons, high schools have pink games for football and the like, and the list goes on and on. I’m not saying that any of this is bad, I get it it. I’ve had family affected by cancer, friends and their loved ones, I’ve done the Komen walk myself. I’ve seen too many people die of that disease way too early and it breaks my heart. I hate it, hate it, hate it, hate it.
With all that being said………Diabetes, not so much. Yes, there are the great organizations like JDRF and American Diabetes Association, that have fund raisers and walks. However Diabetes does not get the research funding that other diseases receive. How often does anyone really see much in the news about awareness or fund raising for research for a cure for diabetes? Specifically Type 1? Outside of the diabetes online community, you don’t see people wearing blue ribbons, or wearing blue for Blue Friday, or changing their Facebook profiles pictures to blue or the blue circle that symbolizes awareness. Yet, this Type 1 diabetes needs to be seen for what it is as well, deadly.
Although it is “manageable”, that term is somewhat frustrating. I mean, yes, I’m thankful that I am able to “manage” things on my own on a daily basis, otherwise I can’t even imagine what life would be like. Before insulin and even once insulin was available and barbaric glass needles were used, before test strips, meters and pumps it was pretty much a death sentence. It was, in my opinion just as bad as or even worse than cancer. Depending on how soon after symptoms would show and a diagnosis was given, death was sure to follow within a years time. A few years before the discovery and production of insulin those that were more well off would spend their last days in a clinic like facility given a very special diet of very few carbs, and a certain amount of fats in order to try and prolong their lives. But they weren’t living much of a life. Living with no energy, and pretty much malnourished there was not the luxury of being able to “self manage”. This disease is still a death sentence for children all across the world in most other countries due to the fact that all the tools, supplies and much needed insulin is not available to them and their parents.
I can’t think of another disease that a person comes as close to death on almost a daily basis as type 1. BG lows are close to death. That reality has hit closer to home in the last few months after reading about several deaths over the past year of people with T1D that have passed away because of a BG crash. Reading those blogs and articles is what prompted me to get a Dexcom CGM. Reading these stories is what has made me realize how close it comes. One thing I honestly have to say that I hate to hear people tell me is, “But you take really good care of yourself, you have tight control.” I hate that term, because I bet some of those people that I read about had tight control, (and I use that term loosely because tight control pretty much just means keeping BGs out of the high numbers a lot), they took care of themselves. It doesn’t matter how well your control is, how much you take care of yourself, a low can happen for no good reason, and a lot of times, the better control a person has the more often they will have BG lows. That in turn can cause hypoglycemia unawareness. That is a terrifying thing for all of us with T1D, even if we haven’t developed it, feeling hypoglycemia a scary feeling. Sometimes it is absolutely terrifying. I have lows more often than I care to admit. Yes having a CGM has helped a lot, but sometimes a low comes on too quickly for a CGM to catch. Or, for instance you are busy and in the shower or something and not paying as close attention to the receive as you would if say you are sitting on the couch watching TV. There was one night recently, I was in the shower and Lexie (this is my name for my Dexcom), starting screaming at me. I was getting out of the shower anyway and I have a jar of glucose tabs that I keep within arms reach of the shower just in case. I remember downing four tabs and went about my after shower routine. But then things got scary. I started to sweat, feel the foggy dizziness and confusion, overly emotional wanting to crumple into a ball and cry because I was scared. I walked out of the bathroom, grabbed juice and went and sat on the couch in just my bath towel next to Brad. That’s not normal, he knew right away by how I was acting and the look on my face and in my eyes not to mess with me. He just held me and I tried not to turn hysterical. This is a good example of being close to deaths door. I really don’t remember what number I got down to, I don’t remember much else than what I have told here about that low.
If you are interested in other information regarding projects for helping children with diabetes in third world countries or info regarding organization here in the states that are helping Type 1s or research being done for a cure below are some links. Check them out!
Spare a Rose, Save A Child: http://www.p4dc.com/spare-a-rose/
Insulin For Life: http://www.ifl-usa.org/
American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/