Living A Life With Type 1 Diabetes
For the diagnosed
Explanation of Disease:
How do I know I have Type 1 Diabetes?
The GTT test that you previously took showed that the level of sugar in your blood is very unusually high. The follow up insulin test then showed that the level of insulin in your blood stream sits at a very low constant number. These results prove positive for Type 1 Diabetes.
But don't worry, it's going to be just fine, the way your body works is just a little different from everyone else's.
Why do I have Type 1 Diabetes?
The beta cells in the your pancreas that release insulin are broken. These cells either broke when you were very young, or have been broken since birth. Which means your body can't regulate the level of sugar in your blood.
Glucose and Insulin Monitoring:
How do I monitor blood sugar and regulate my insulin intake?
There are 2 methods to regulating a normal level of insulin and glucose in the blood.
- Test meters and insulin injections
- Insulin pump
If your blood sugar is too low you may need to snack on something sugary like DEX tabs to raise your blood sugar back to a more regular state. If it is too high, eating is not the best option and insulin injections are needed. Usually, a diabetic must check their blood sugar before every meal or snack and before bedtime.
A newer, easier method seems to be that of using an insulin pump. This pump works just like a meter except it sits on your hip and attaches to areas such as your stomach and hip. It can accurately check blood sugar at any given time, and when needed it pumps insulin into the blood.
DEX Tabs are sugar/glucose filled tablets that are taken orally when blood sugar is low. After eating a few of these, blood sugar should rise to a more normal state.
Test meters are used to monitor/check the blood sugar in your body. When using a test meter you should prick the tip of your finger to get just enough blood squeezed out onto the test strip attached to the meter. The test strip can then read your blood sugar which shows up on the screen.
Since your body is not able to regulate sugar, staying away from sugary foods is a must.
What to limit:
- Table sugar/honey/syrup
- Sherbet- ice cream
- Fruity drinks/soft drinks
- Sweet breads/donuts/granola/sugary cereals
- Chocolate milk/milkshakes/cocoa mix
- Starchy vegetables (potatoes, peas, corn, etc)
- Foods high in fat
What to get enough of:
- Non starchy vegetables
- Carbohydrates (whole grains)
- Oatmeal/bran cereals
- Whole grain bread/bagels
- Dried beans
- Popcorn/pretzels/vanilla wafers
- Protein shakes/smoothies
NOTE: Eating your meals around the same time everyday is recommended. Not eating at a set time or completely skipping a meal can throw your blood sugar way off and potentially make you really sick. Another thing helpful to keeping track of blood sugar and health is breaking down everything you eat. From keeping track of how many calories each food item has to knowing all about a foods nutrients.
Health and Exercise:
How does this condition affect my health?
Exercise is very important! But it must be monitored closely. Exercise, no matter who you are, is very important for good health and a happy lifestyle! However, having diabetes affects what you may or may not be able to do. For example: If your blood sugar or insulin level is too high or too low before doing an activity or exercise, you will not be able to participate to prevent any further complications. Blood sugar and insulin should be monitored directly after an activity as well for the same reasons. Heavy activity is not recommended due to the fact that blood sugar and insulin levels will be harder to control, but some children with diabetes find it ok to play some sort of sport. But one should talk to a healthcare professional before starting anything your body may not be able to handle.
Most activities include:
- Lifting Weights
- Stretching and conditioning
Jennifer LeHew: Living with Diabetes First Hand:
Growing up with an older sister that has Type 1 Diabetes wasn't always the easiest, but it allowed my knowledge of the disease to expand and gave me the opportunity to help with a hands on experience. I asked my sister Elizabeth a few questions about her experience with diabetes: below are her responses.
What was it like growing up with diabetes?
"Different. Rules were different. Circumstances were different. I was different. That was one of the most apparent things even from a very young age. Even before I knew what 'different' was. I've never known differently then what I've had. I've never known what it's like to eat a cookie or drink a Coke without having to either do something or feel adverse affects. But to most anyone else i'm different."
What was the hardest thing to adjust to?
"The hardest thing to adjust to I suppose was learning to know that I couldn't do things or be like other kids. I couldn't do sports even though I was in shape, I couldn't eat certain things or go certain places."
What was your best/worst experience due to diabetes?
"My best experience was probably diabetic camp. It was the one place I or 'us diabetics' could actually literally get away or go on vacation. And actually be on vacation. Even family stuff I still had the stress of making sure I had supplies for keeping track of blood sugars. Diabetic camps track and do all that for the kids there. We don't have to worry about timing or counting carbs or really anything. We could just relax and be free.
My worst experience was definitely hospital trips. Either due to being sick or having my blood drawn every month, I spent most of my life in and out of the hospital."
What happened when you found out you had diabetes?
"I was diagnosed when I was 2 1/2 years old so I didn't really have a reaction. I didn't know what diabetes was and I didn't know what that would mean for my life."
Endocrinologist: A person who has been trained to diagnose and treat hormone imbalances. One of the main focuses of an Endocrinologist is diabetes. This specific professional would be of huge help to you because diabetes is a hormonal imbalanced disease. He or she would be able to help regulate your diabetes better and make frequent changes to better benefit you.
Nutritionist/Dietician: People who give advice and help manage a persons diet and nutrition. A nutritionist/dietician would be very helpful to you because you are having to make very many dieting choices and nutritional choices. This professional will be able to help you with any questions you have concerning your eating habits.
Certified Diabetes Educator: A CDE would be very helpful to anyone with diabetes, the name says it all! These people know everything there is to know about diabetes and are here to help you manage and better understand the condition.