a lesson for friday

image via poppytalk.blogspot.com
happy friday, happy weekend and happy world diabetes day!

i promise i won't bore you with all the details, but november is diabetes awareness month and today is world diabetes day. i think the name sounds a little ridiculous, but i certainly like the idea of a day to raise awareness about this disease that affects over twenty million people in the united states alone.
i have been type I diabetic since i was ten years old. i wear an insulin pump, count carbohydrates, and am really good at giving injections. i get a little annoyed, however, when people don't know the difference between type I and type II diabetes and make comments like "i thought people with diabetes were overweight, but you're not," etc.

which is why you are lucky enough to get a little diabetes lesson today:
there are two types of diabetes, and although the name is identical, they are actually quite different:
- type I diabetes is usually known as "insulin-dependent diabetes" or "juvenile diabetes", as it is usually diagnosed in people under the age of 25. this is an auto-immune deficiency, meaning that antibodies are triggered (often by a physically or mentally traumatic experience) to attack healthy organs within the body. in this case, the pancreas (manufacturer of insulin) is attacked and killed and insulin must be artificially obtained. this type of diabetes is chronic, meaning there is no cure or way to make the pancreas start producing insulin again. in the simplest explanation, insulin acts as a can opener in your bloodstream, allowing nutrients to be absorbed by your cells. without insulin, sugar that would otherwise be absorbed builds up, causing "high blood sugar". diabetics maintain their blood sugar by finger pricks to test the amount of sugar in their blood, and by injecting insulin (usually three to five times a day). Many diabetics (including myself) now wear an insulin pump, which is similar to a small IV. the pump has the same effect as the shots, but uses only one type of insulin and infuses it continually. the pump is much more convenient than shots as it does not require a rigid schedule.

-type II diabetes, or "adult onset diabetes" is generally diagnosed after the age of 25. in this case, the pancreas becomes overworked and produces less insulin than is necessary or stops producing all together. this can be a result of any number of factors, but in the united states is often a result of obesity, lack of exercise, and poor eating habits. this type of diabetes has a number of different levels. because the pancreas is merely overworked, most can regain function from weight loss, an exercise plan, a healthy diet, and in many cases, medication in the form of a pill. some cases can be more severe, resulting in the need for injections of insulin.

so there's a little lesson for you - don't you feel smarter? while having diabetes is certainly not fun, i am thankful that i can live a fairly normal life without too many concerns about my future. i recently attended a lecture by a prestigious researcher for diabetes, and while a cure is still going to take some time, he is confident (and so am i!) that there will be a way to cure type I diabetes in my lifetime, and for that i am so grateful. thanks for reading and for more information check out the juvenile diabetes research foundation (my favorite) or the american diabetes association.

and have a happy weekend!

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