The newspapers have been excitable in the last few months, with headlines shouting:
“End of the diabetes jab? New insulin implant controls blood glucose levels without injections”
This follows on quickly from the announcement from Google about contact lenses that can read blood sugar. It seems technology is taking diabetes seriously. Yet human trials are still years away, and that is a long time for my daughter, she will face puberty with her diabetes, and for now, her day-to-day life won’t change. The last week has been challenging, with some seriously high blood sugar readings that have led to us checking blood sugars all through the day and night.
Sleep is something I miss.
I am consistently amazed at the naivety that surrounds diabetes, the confusion that exists between Type 1 and Type 2. I confess, 20 months ago I was none the wiser, and am embarrassed to admit it. I was a pure idiot about the condition and what care levels it entails.
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 is what my daughter has. She didn’t ‘eat too many sweets’, Type 1 is an autoimmune disease, the pancreas is attacked and the body no longer produces insulin. When your body doesn’t produce insulin then your glucose levels will raise and cause damage to your internal organs. Type 1 is an absolute terror unless it is managed well.
About 10% of diabetics in the UK have Type 1, and are normally diagnosed as children.
If you have Type 1 Diabetes you will need to inject insulin every day for the rest of your life, between 4-6 times a day, or you will need to wear an insulin pump which gives insulin via a cannula that is changed every 2-3 days.
Type 1 Diabetics will commonly manage their diet via carbohydrate counting, so each meal they eat will have a carbohydrate value and they will calculate the amount of insulin needed to eat that meal.
Type 1 Diabetics can eat pretty much anything, with the exception of seriously fast sugar based food, (apple juice, sugared jellied sweets).
My daughter loves chocolate and anything else that is considered unhealthy in this world – I may not want her eating it, but it is me stopping her, not her Diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 is a rising problem in the UK, with an estimated 850,000 people walking around undiagnosed. It affects 90% of the 2.9 million people in the UK with Diabetes.
Type 2 is commonly associated with obesity and found in the older generation, some Type 2 Diabetics may be able to control their condition through diet, others through tablets and some may be insulin dependent and require injections.
Complications of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes
Poor blood sugar control in both types of Diabetes can lead to the same complications over time, including kidney disease, retinopathy, neuropathy, and heart disease.
When we fight my daughters Diabetes daily we are doing it to ensure she doesn’t ever encounter any of these complications. We don’t hide how serious her condition is because we need her to appreciate the importance of good control and what it means to her long-term health.
However, do you remember being seven and caring about being forty….
How much does Diabetes cost the NHS?
It is estimated that £14 billion pounds a year is spent on Diabetes in the UK, the majority of this is spend on treating complications that arise from the condition. People with Diabetes are up to 30 times more likely to have an amputation that those without. Not enough money is being spent on education, giving Type 2 Diabetics access to blood tests technology, and finding a cure.
If more time and money were invested in better foot care for Diabetics then up to 80% of Diabetic related amputations could be avoided.
It would seem the UK is caught in the parental trap of treating the problem rather than addressing the cause.
Living with Diabetes?
Living with a child with Type 1 affects everything but changes nothing. Except for joining the army and flying a plane and slurping apple juice like there is no tomorrow, there is nothing my daughter can’t do.
However, Diabetes affects everything, every food must be counted, bloods must be tested 6-10 times a day, exercise must be monitored and her insulin altered. Growing affects the need for insulin, moods affect her blood sugars, having a high blood sugar reading can turn my little seven year old into a moody monster. Low blood sugar readings can turn her skin translucent and cause her legs to shake and her mind to be confused.
Hypos affect her for up to 15-30 minutes afterwards. Stress causes hypos. High blood sugars will affect her all day.
Truth be told, Diabetes is a horrific condition, which is misunderstood by the general population, is an excessive drain on the NHS and one that my daughter and many other Type 1 warriors cope with admirably.
We need a cure.
Many regular readers know I was due to run the Brighton marathon last week to raise money for Diabetes UK, sadly an injury has pulled me out of the race and all sponsorship was refunded. Luckily my husband has picked up the challenge baton and will riding 100 miles across London with a team of friends. I am incredibly proud of him, if anyone would like to sponsor him please find the link here, if you are kind enough to share the post to let others know, then thanks very much.