Today is an awesome day. More is taught about diabetes today, than any other day of the year. Today is World Diabetes Day. A day dedicated to raising the world's awareness of how dangerous diabetes can be. We diabetics take today and give our quiet disease a voice. Many blog, many participate on Twitter, and other's take extra time teach their friends, neighbors and community.
Diabetes is a chronic illness. There are three main types: Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational. There are many others too, such as LADA.
Since I'm Type 1 myself I'll explain about that one.
Type 1 usually refers to diabetics who's ability to live is dependent on their injected insulin. Without insulin, they would not survive. Most people pick it up as a child. But not all people get diabetes at a young age. Personally, I didn't get it until right before my 18th birthday. I know others who don't get it till their 20s and later.
Generally it's caused by the immune system becoming confused and attacking the part of the pancreas that produces insulin. This causes a deficit of insulin, causing blood sugars to soar and the child is usually sent to the hospital and diagnosed within a month. Over about a year, the body eventually stops producing any insulin at all. This year is called the honeymoon. The pancreas produces a little insulin but eventually wears out because it can't produce enough insulin because of immune attack.
It's taken care of by a regimen of either multiple daily injections of insulin or a nifty tool called an insulin pump.
The second main step is eating a careful diet. This does NOT mean, they can't eat sugar. They just have to watch their carb intake and bolus (take insulin) appropriately. I personally try to make sure I eat about 300 grams of Carbs a day. This is one place where family and friends definitely help me a lot. We eat at friends often and they are always sure to save carb counts of everything they've made and keep track of all the ingredients in their dishes. They also usually have diet pop on hand and now almost always use whole-grain in everything they make. I can't say how much this means to me and how much it helps me.
The third main step is exercise. About 30 minutes, five days a week. Very important and definitely something I need to get back into the habit of doing. Exercise is a great way to lower blood sugars and keep them low.
And last, but probably the most important, is testing your blood sugar on a very regular basis. Personally, I try to test when I wake up, before and after every meal, before I drive and before and during heavy exercise. Usually, I'll test about 7-10 times a day. Some people think I'm nuts, but I think it is critical to watch my blood sugars very closely to keep my HbA1c as close as I can to 6.5%. (This is my personal goal) By doing this, I prolong my life and live healthier every day.
There are many other things that go into caring for yourself. As a Type 1 myself, I could go on for hours about it. My most helpful resources for caring for diabetes are my wonderful husband, my family and my awesome friends! Without them, I wouldn't be in the pretty awesome health I am.
If you have any questions, definitely drop me a line. And on a more personal note, my blood sugars have been awesome the last few weeks and it looks a CGM has been approved by my insurance! Woot! And hopefully, I'm going to be in school this Spring semester. Now I have Gotta get to work.