Type 1 Diabetes – Simply put…it’s complicated.

Our Communications Director, Shannon Griffin, dives in to the world of Type 1 Diabetes:

Earlier today I was working at the front desk in the pediatric ER, trying to determine how to write this post. My goal? To help others understand Type 1 Diabetes and how it affects the lives of over 1.2 million Americans each day. As I sat there trying to grasp it myself, a boy and his Mom checked in. The boy was so weak he could barely stand. His eyes were blood shot, he was dripping in sweat and gripping a vomit bag. I asked his Mom what brings him in today, she responded, “I think its DKA.” If it weren’t for the research I had done for this post, I would have had no idea what this was. Diabetic Ketoacidosis. DKA occurs when the ketones of those with T1D (and occasionally T2D,) are too high and begin poisoning the body. It can cause a diabetic coma and in extreme cases, death. Even those who give constant attention to the management of their diabetes still carry the risk of DKA and other life threatening complications.

Diabetes Management: Just some daily pin pricks and lay off the sugar, right? Not in the slightest.

My cousin Matt was recently diagnosed with T1D, so I called him up for the inside scoop.

Simply put…its complicated. When you’re diagnosed with T1D your life becomes a numbers game, and there is a lot of grey area.  As I tried to grasp what life with T1D is like, I got lost in all of its contingency. There are numerous “if this then that, but only if this, and not when that, is like this” rules that come along with managing diabetes. Each time I thought I understood one of the rules, I ran into the exceptions to the rules.

Now imagine yourself at the age of 16. After weeks of feeling ill, you are admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with T1D. Your Doctor tells you that your pancreas does not work the way it should, and there is no way of fixing it. Every day for the rest of your life, you will have to carefully calculate everything you eat, when you eat it and balance that with how much insulin you will have to take. Then you will have to consider your physical activity, emotions, and more. You will have to keep your pack of insulin and needles with you at all times. Well, there goes spontaneity. Something like a stomach bug or change in your body’s hormones could still send you to the hospital with DKA. There are several long term complications that can come from this disease such as blindness, amputation, kidney failure and much more.

That sounds like a lot for a 16 year old, its a lot for anyone. I certainly love to eat, and that would be a difficult adjustment.

Matt Griffin

Here’s Matt’s advice for someone recently diagnosed with T1D:

1. Accept the diagnosis, listen to your doctor, learn your options, and take care of yourself.

2. Tell your friends and loved ones. This is your journey and a strong support system is necessary. It could even save your life.

3. Many people don’t know the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes, because they aren’t forced to live with it or be exposed to it. This isn’t something to be upset or angry about, its an opportunity to educate them on the difference.

The T1D Digest:

1. T1D typically develops during childhood and is not currently curable or preventable.

2. T1D occurs because your pancreas stops making insulin and in turn, your body can’t control the amount of glucose in your blood. Your body will have to depend on insulin injections to prevent your blood sugar from dropping too low or getting too high.

3. Type 1 Diabetes is dangerous and life threatening, but good management can help prevent or delay the devastating effects it poses. People with T1D can still live full and active lives.

4. This is just the surface! These are just some of the aspects of Type 1 Diabetes and how it affects people. Educate yourself.

Sam Parker at our 2015 Dream Gala

Dream Kid Sam

Charlotte Local with t1 Diabetes to meet Jay Cutler

In our next Dream On 3 experience we are taking Dream Kid Sam to meet his sports hero, Jay Cutler. Both Sam and Jay Cutler live with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). Sam was recently diagnosed with T1D and is learning to adapt and excel. Learn more about Sam, his dream, and how you can help!