Waking up each morning isn’t a task… well for some of us it is. In my opinion, leaving that soft warm bed can be a task for anyone, but for a diabetic waking up is an actual physical task. The very first thing a diabetic has to do is test their blood sugar. This first number really dictates how their night went, as well as how their entire day will start and progress. Some diabetics are lucky enough to have an automatic glucose meter, which alerts them during the night if their blood sugar gets too high or too low, warning the diabetic to make a glucose correction accordingly. Others don’t have this luxury. A juvenile diabetic who does not have an insulin pump and automatic glucose meter has to manually inject long-term doses of insulin for sugar levels overnight and throughout the day. And, it doesn’t stop there – a full day of “checks” and injections await them based on their food intake, activity and energy spent and even hormone and stress levels.
The simple pleasure of a sweet slushy on a hot summer day, a crisp ice cold glass of grape juice when the desire strikes us… those are things that a diabetic can only dream about. The little things like cutting your finger or stubbing your toe and the careless thought of “I’ll tend to it later” don’t exist for them. When a person that doesn’t have diabetes orders a diet beverage it’s by personal choice – we’re just trying to control our calorie intake for the day. However, for a diabetic, this isn’t a choice. A few weeks ago my diabetic brother, Christopher (CJ) ordered a diet soda, because he must. After he consumed about half of the drink he realized it might taste a bit different. He had a friend taste the drink, and you guessed it – it was a regular sugar- packed soda. For a diabetic, this isn’t just a simple mishap. If not caught in time a regular soda can spike a Diabetic’s blood sugar level to a life-threatening status in just minutes. In fact, when blood sugar is at a dangerous low, a regular soda can be his or her lifesaver, due to the fast acting nature of sugar in liquid form.
In addition, a diabetic’s pet can also be their lifesaver, warning them when they are at a dangerous number by waking them up out of a sound sleep because their insulin didn’t do enough. Animals instinctively ‘smell’ the abnormal spike or low blood glucose levels. Some are lucky enough to have parents and family who care enough to hound them about their blood numbers, waking up at all hours of the night to make sure they are still harboring a safe number to get through the night, instead of slipping away into a coma. Spending the night at a friend’s house can be a nightmare to a parent of a diabetic. Why? Is there really anyone else in this world who cares about their child more than they care about themselves? The choices a normal teenager can make don’t have the same affect as the same choice a diabetic teenager makes.
Being healthy has as much to do with exercise as does eating properly. Exercise has many different affects on a diabetic’s body. Taking a 3-mile run can’t even be as cleansing and mindless as it can be for the rest of us. Making sure their blood sugar doesn’t dip too low or spike too high is the most important part of every activity in their lives. Diabetics make amazing athletes and that in and of itself makes their accomplishments in their sport that much more impressive.
In general, checking one’s blood sugar is now becoming widely recognized in our society. Insulin pumps are more common in schools and the work place, but what about diabetics who don’t have pumps where they can simply input the amount of insulin their body needs? Diabetics who don’t have insulin pumps have to inject insulin with needles… in public. Usually, this isn’t accepted as easily as a pump, if you’re picking up what I’m putting down. The purpose of this post is not to make anyone feel badly or pity Type 1 Diabetics and the challenges and hurdles they face on a daily basis. The purpose is to bring focus and light to the reality of some of the things we don’t ever want to have to take into account.
We’re Taking Type 1 Diabetes to Heart. -Gina