Betes. Dia-betus. T1D. Broken pancreas. My pancreas abandoned me. Type one, not type two. This is how I say, “I have type one diabetes.”
I was diagnosed the summer of 1999. I had just graduated high school. I got really super sick and ended up in the ICU with a blood sugar over 1000. I was in and out of a stupor for days in that hospital bed. When I woke up from the minor coma I was in, I should have lost brain function. But alas, I did not. I recovered fully. Except for the type one diabetes part.
I have been a T1D for over half my life. I’m a single mom with two kids, sit at a desk talking insurance all work day, exercise intensely six days a week, sometimes five, and am an improviser in Chicago. This seems like no big deal, like you know plenty of people doing the same thing. The difference is my body wants to slowly die, on a cellular level, every damn second of my life. On a cellular level my body works harder than pancreas-loving bodies to stay alive. I am exhausted, on a cellular level, everyday. My cells do not have what they need to function. My pancreas up and quit on me for no fucking reason. Wait. There is a reason but no one knows what is, yet.
When you eat, all food turns to glucose eventually. Some foods take longer to turn to glucose, like plain ass oatmeal. Some turn quickly into glucose, like jelly beans. Glucose is what gives our cells energy. That does not mean that the more glucose you eat, the better your cells are. Don’t go shoveling glucose into your system to help your cells out. For reals.
Anyways, the food goes into your bloodstream and turns to glucose. Then it is carried to the cells and used accordingly to provide energy. It is carried to the cells by this fucking hormone called insulin. Insulin is fucking needed to fucking live. Now, if the insulin does not carry the glucose to the cells, the glucose just sits in your bloodstream. When it just sits in your bloodstream, your blood sugar/blood glucose is raised. High blood sugar damages your organs, makes your circulation all messy, and a whole heap of other ailments. In addition, your cells have not gotten the energy they need to function and therefore, keep you alive. The cells decide to forge on and attack your fat cells for energy. So, there is inevitably weight loss. But then the fat is gone and now the cells have nothing to eat. Now, they slowly shut down.
Meanwhile, the glucose that is just sitting in your blood stream is now creating ketones. Ketones will kill you. This is called ketoacidosis. Ketones, and this absurd ketoacidosis, are real bastards. High blood sugar over long periods of time can result in amputations, blindness, kidney failure, and/or death from diabetic complications. High blood sugar has serious long-term effects. Totally tubular.
On the opposite end of that is when there is too little glucose in your cells. You have insulin that was released to cart that glucose off to your cells. What if there is too much insulin and not enough glucose? You’d think the insulin would just go sit and wait to be used later but no, it is an impatient asshole. The insulin now attacks everything. It is eating you alive from the inside and you are now shutting down, losing all energy, and headed for coma, seizure, and/or death. Low blood sugar has serious short-term effects. Super cool.
So, a type one, me, does not have this hormone. Therefore, a type one can slowly and painfully perish from high blood sugar, medically called hyperglycemia OR quickly and painfully perish from low blood sugar, medically known as hypoglycemia.
Did I mention that insulin also tells your body how much fat to keep from the food you eat, when you are hungry, and when you are full?
Not having this insulin hormone naturally occurring in my body fucking sucks so much.
I inject insulin as needed and eat glucose as needed. Which is like, all the time.
Now, and this is important, just like everything I said before is important. Type one diabetics and type two diabetics are not the same flipping thing. Here is my honest and quick telling of how they differ.
Type one diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The pancreas of a T1D does not produce insulin and there is not a known cure. A T1D did not cause it by eating too much damn sugar or sitting on their damn faces. There are plenty of T1Ds that do that, I know, but that is not what caused their disease. A type one is in constant battle with high and low blood sugars; constantly striving to stay in a normal glucose range.; always fearful of dying from hypoglycemia. There is not currently a cure or preventative technique for type one diabetes.
Type two diabetes is a metabolic disorder. The pancreas of a type two diabetic does not produce insulin, or produces too little of it, because of their lifestyle. That is, their diet and activity level. You may always have type two diabetes but you can simply manage it with healthy food choices and activity level. A type two is trying to get their blood sugar down to a normal range. The cure and preventative technique for type two diabetics is to eat healthy and to move your body.
Do not confuse them. It is ignorant. Nay, stupid. It is stupid. Don’t do it.
My body does not process food. I have to inject insulin to do that. I have to draw blood from my body and see how much or how little sugar is in my blood. I have to look at food before I eat it and decide how much insulin I may need to process said food. I have to eat the same amount of carbohydrates at the same time everyday cause my body does not like surprises. I have to immediately get glucose into my system if my sugar drops too low. I have to know my blood sugar before going to bed, before being alone, before driving, before working out, before everything. I think about this disease probably every ten minutes of everyday because I am determined to not let it kill me. I am in control. I am reminded 52,560 times a year that I have a disease and I am the only one that can steer its direction.
I am scared and I am tired and I feel alone most of the time.
Type one diabetes is a fucking ass bag.