Being an ostrich with Diabetes

 

 

Being an ostrich with Diabetes

After I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes it took time for the shock and sadness to finally drift to the back of my mind, but once it did I began to get my thoughts together and settle into a sort of purpose.

This is typical of me, there were only 2 ways to go with this, bury my head like an ostrich and go into denial or find out as much as I could about it all and try to find a way forward for the rest of my life.

 

My motto in life was always that I’d prefer to get to the end of my life someday kicking and screaming, rather than just slip away.

Once I found out all about the complications that could happen to me if I didn’t get my shit together and manage this disease and my daily blood glucose  I became very determined that id do absolutely everything I could not to:

Not go blind,  loose a limb, develop heart problems, or kidney problems and above all there was no way I was going to die from Hypoglycemia (yes there is  a very real risk of this happening ) like so many have sadly done.

BUT, and here is the big BUT, I’ve met and talked to so many people who have said to me “you can’t die from a hypo” well here’s the thing, “yes you can” and that’s a fact. There are actually people with diabetes who just refuse to believe the very real risks that come with not managing their blood glucose and keeping it in range.

I know people die while having a hypo and the fear of this part of living with diabetes was preventing me from being able to have a good night’s sleep and that’s when I decided wearing a CGM “continuous glucose meter” was what I needed. My CGM alarms when I start to go high or low, meaning I won’t sleep through it, I can take the necessary action before it becomes a danger.

A couple of years later my life was changing and using an insulin pump was the choice I made, I use the Medtronic 640G which is an pump and CGM, that actually communicate with each other in an effort to keep me safe.

I can not only see what my blood glucose is at any time but I can also see if it’s stable or if it’s rising or dropping. A CGM gives me my readings in real time, before getting a CGM  I was using a regular blood glucose meter, which gives a sort of snapshot of what my numbers are right then, but it gives no indication of where those numbers will be in 5 minutes time.

 

FACT:

I’ve talked  to many people when I’m in clinic as I’m always interested in their story with diabetes, some have had toes, a foot or a leg removed, some are nearly blind, some have serious kidney or heart problems.

When I’ve spoken to these people some of them have said they just didn’t take it seriously enough, others say “sure I was young and enjoying life” some just didn’t realise that this could happen if blood glucose wasn’t kept in the recommended range. I’m deliberately not saying what that range is because that is something that should be discussed with your own diabetes team.

IV witnessed a woman having a very bad Hypo and the nurses trying to treat her while she was aggressive with them, she wasn’t deliberately being aggressive it was what the hypo was doing to her.

I’ve also spoken to people who have had a loved one die in their sleep while having a hypo. It’s all very very sad, but very very true

If there was advice I could give to anyone reading this it would be:

  • Please accept how serious diabetes is, especially if you’re not managing it pro actively.
  • Please live with the reality of the risks and dangers having diabetes can pose.
  • Please do your research and read as much as you can get your hands on about managing diabetes.
  • Please question your diabetes team about everything to do with your diabetes and managing it daily.
  • Please seek education through your hospital diabetes team.
  • Please look for support groups online or face to face, or ask at your hospital if there is someone they can recommend you could talk to who also has diabetes, so you don’t feel isolated or alone while living with it.
  • Please request a continuous glucose meter (CGM) to keep a watchful eye on your blood glucose. A regular blood glucose meter will only give you a snapshot of where you are right now, but a CGM is reading in real time so you know at all times what you glucose reading is so you can take the appropriate action.
  • Please don’t bury your head in the sand and hope that somehow it will all be ok because if you do this it won’t be.
  • Please don’t be an ostrich
IMPORTANT INFORMATION*
For those who think diabetes is caused by an unhealthy lifestyle let me clarify a couple of things.

I have type 1 diabetes. It’s an autoimmune disease. Nothing I did, or didn’t do caused it and nothing I do will cure it. There’s is currently no cure for Type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes happens because our own antibodies attack and destroy an organ in the body. it’s an autoimmune response where antibodies that normally fight disease mistake a part of our body
(the pancreas in this case) as foreign and attack to destroy it.
When those antibodies attack the insulin-producing islets in the pancreas we stop producing insulin so we need to inject or pump it.
Without insulin a person with type 1 diabetes would die. At present it is not known what causes this to happen, and there is no cure.
A person with Type 1 diabetes MUST inject or pump insulin to stay alive.
There are many factors that contribute to a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes so pre judgment of a lifestyle choice is unfair at very least.
A person with Type 2 diabetes, while still producing their own insulin for various reasons their body cannot use it correctly or efficiently.
These people are generally treated with oral medications and sometimes with insulin injections.

Davina Lyon

Co-Founder of Diabetes T One & A Diabetes Life

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