What Mel Did
What Mel Did - apples and cake on scales

The highs and lows of diabetes

10% of every sale in my floral greeting card line (I Miss My Garden Greeting Cards) is put towards supporting children and adults living with diabetes.

The first time Bronnie snapped at me (I mean really barked), I just thought he was being a jerk. It was many months until the jerk told me he was diabetic – Type 1.

Diabetes is the condition where the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood stream is too high because it is not being transported out of the blood to the body’s cells which need it as fuel to give us the energy to work, play and live life. We get glucose from the foods we eat and this glucose is usually transported from our blood to our cells via a hormone produced by the Pancreas called Insulin.

Problems arise when the Pancreas cannot produce insulin, is not producing enough insulin or the insulin that is being produced does not work properly.

Treatment is typically daily doses of insulin injections, a healthy diet and regular physical activity.

Let us think of insulin as a key that unlocks the door to the body’s cells so that glucose from the foods we eat can enter and be used as fuel.

Diabetes can take two forms – Type 1 or Type 2.

Type 1 Diabetes – develops when insulin-producing cells in the body have been destroyed and the body is unable to produce any insulin.

Type 2 Diabetes – develops when the body can still make some insulin, but not enough, or the insulin produced does not work properly.

Type 1 diabetes usually appears before the age of 40, especially in childhood, and can be genetically linked. Type 2 diabetes usually develops in people over the age of 40, although becoming increasingly more common in other age groups. Lifestyle factors such as weight and diet can play a big role in developing Type 2 diabetes.

So, Type 2 diabetes can be reversed with careful monitoring of food, exercise and weight. As yet, there is no cure for Type 1 diabetes.

Symptoms include, but are not limited to, excessive:

  • thirst
  • urination
  • tiredness
  • weight loss
  • erratic or disorientated behavior
  • slow healing cuts and wounds
  • genital itching or regular episodes of thrush
  • blurred vision

There are two other terms to be aware of:

Hypoglycaemia is ‘low blood glucose levels’ – too low to provide enough energy for the body’s activities. If conscious, ‘Hypos’ are treated with fast-acting carbohydrate – a sugary (non-diet drink), glucose tablets, sweets, pure fruit juice or glucose gel. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, feeling shaky, sweating, hunger, tiredness, blurred vision, lack of concentration, headaches, tearful, stroppy or moody, going pale.

At the other end of the scale is Hyperglycaemia or ‘Hypers.’ This happens when blood glucose levels are too high. There may be several reasons why this may happen: a missed dose of medication, eating more carbohydrate than the body and/or medication can cope with, stress, unwell from an infection, or from over-treating a hypo. Symptoms may include: passing more urine than normal, especially at night, feeling thirsty, headaches, tiredness and lethargy. Treatment of hypers will depend on what caused them. If blood glucose level is high for a short time, emergency treatment won’t be necessary. But if it stays high action needs to be taken: drink plenty of sugar-free fluids; if on insulin, the person may need to take extra insulin; if feeling unwell, especially if vomiting, people must contact their diabetes healthcare team for advice.

My late husband’s father, Bronson Sr., was diagnosed as ‘a diabetic’ (Type 1) when a young man. Bronson Jr. (my husband), was diagnosed as ‘a diabetic’ (Type 1) when he was aged 10. My son, Bronson III, was diagnosed as ‘a young person with diabetes’ when he was 12 years old.

On the Sunday before diagnosis, my son was many things: caring, funny, considerate, a great cook, an actor, a teenager, a pain in the butt (oh, I already said teenager), etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Come the Monday of diagnosis, my son was still many things – only one of which was diabetic. We, therefore, much prefer the term “a person with diabetes.”

So, the next time you come across a jerk, consider:

a) they may be a jerk, yes;

b) they may be a jerk living with diabetes; or

c) they may be a person with diabetes having a hypo or hyper attack.

Reference source: www.diabetes.org.uk