Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Did You Know: Only 5% of People with this Disease Have it in this Form

By: Lindsay Dawson, Choosy Kids Social Media Account Manager

I will never forget the afternoon of December 6, 2001. Little 11-year-old me had been sick for nearly a month. I was constantly thirsty; my complexion was muted; I had no energy; and despite my consistent hunger, I’d lost about 15 pounds in two weeks. My mom had been so concerned that I wasn’t eating, or that something very serious was happening to me. And on December 6th, she picked me up from school, took me to my doctor, and stood by my side as my life changed forever.

That afternoon, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes – a chronic autoimmune disease in which the child’s pancreas stops producing insulin, either due to hereditary disposition or a virus that initiates the attack on the pancreas. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form, Type 1 – formally known as juvenile diabetes. Without a functioning pancreas, Insulin cannot be produced. Insulin is one of the 8 hormones produced in the body that regulates blood sugar. This disease is not life threatening if treated properly, though there is currently no cure. The day I was diagnosed, I was sent to the hospital for a week of training and education.

I never ate poorly as a child, thanks to my mom’s love for home-cooking and her studies of being a nutritionist in college, I learned that I could never eat the same way. The sweet tooth I inherited from my dad had to be controlled (I loved popsicles and ice cream!), birthday parties and school lunches would be very different. Not only was food affected by my diagnosis; I’d no long be able to exercise the same way, travel, attend school, or even sleep as I had for the previous 11 years. Everything had to change, and I had to adapt to my new lifestyle very quickly.

As I mentioned, this form of Diabetes is either hereditary or caused by a bad virus, like Chicken Pox. I’m still not sure which caused mine: Type 2 runs in my family, and I had a viral rash for about 6 months earlier in the year I was diagnosed. Whatever the case, Diabetes treatment is very complex, particularly for a Type 1. You have to keep your blood sugar within a normal range, doing so by controlling your food intake and treating with the proper amount of insulin. Other factors such as stress/anxiety, exercise, illness, quality of food, and even the environment can affect your levels as well.

Until a few years ago, I was taking at least 4 insulin injections a day, testing my blood sugar 6 to 8 times a day, and monitoring my carbohydrate intake at every meal. My senior year of college, I decided to try the “insulin pump”, a mechanical pancreas, so to speak, that uses ratios, sensitivity levels, and trends specific to my body to deliver continuous doses of insulin. I also use my pump to give myself “boluses”, or injections, on top of my continuous stream of insulin. I wear the pump 24/7; it is always attached to me, except for the few moments when I change the site everything three days. It makes managing my Diabetes much easier! And it’s pink, which is a very good thing, in my opinion!
Healthy habits truly begin at a young age, and I feel very fortunate to have been diagnosed with a disease that taught me such lessons. At 11 years old, I learned the value of feeding my body in a healthy way – I used to snack on Clementine’s constantly - exercising and staying active, and doing the things I loved. Though Diabetes can be difficult and unpredictable, I have always felt that my circumstances could have been far worse. The benefits I have gained from my juvenile diagnosis enabled me to develop my independence and establish a strong sense of responsibility at a critically impressionable age. Consequently, I have spent the last several years cultivating my love and passion for healthy (and adventurous!) cooking, running, lifting weights, swimming, and biking, and embracing my Diabetes for all that it is.

I am now 24 and I recently celebrated my 13th anniversary in December 2014; I’ve lived with Diabetes longer than I lived without it, which is a pretty wild thought to me. This disease has and will continue to be part of every moment of my life. However, this fact does not leave me discouraged. Diabetes, despite the difficulties and frustrations, has taught me so much, and has instilled a remarkably strong sense of healthy living.

With childhood obesity trends as they are, our culture is seeing more and more young children develop Type 2 Diabetes, the adult counterpart that is more influenced by lifestyle choices than biology. Seeing these trends has inspired me to communicate my story of health and my journey with Diabetes to others. I hope to inspire more movement and excitement about nutrition – ideas I try to exude every day, and something I think Choosy would be proud of!
Since March is National Nutrition Month, now is a great time to commit to healthy eating – for yourself and for your family. Do you know someone effected by Diabetes? How can you help them, or help yourself, to get more active and find more joy nutritious cooking?

About the Author: Lindsay Dawson earned her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies and a minor in vocal performance from West Virginia University in 2012. In May of 2014, she graduated from WVU with a Master’s of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications. She has enjoyed working for several non-profits, and in addition to her position with Choosy Kids, Lindsay is currently employed as the Outreach Coordinator for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Morgantown, WV. Her ultimate career ambitions inspire her to combine her love of the arts with her passion for marketing, leadership, and civic engagement.

40 comments :

  1. Thanks for sharing your story. That is so great you could turn your diagnosis into positive habits and now helping people!

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    1. You're welcome! Thank you for taking the time to comment :)

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  2. I learned a lot from reading this post. Diabetes affects so many people! Thanks for educating us. And reminding me I must eat healthy. It's very important.

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    1. I am glad that you learned something :) I am still learning how to manage it every day but eating healthy and exercising is first and foremost.

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  3. This is very good information! Thank you so much for being brave and sharing your story!

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    1. You're welcome. I am glad that you enjoyed it!

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  4. Wow! There's so much information about these disease that I didn't know. My hubby is a diabetic and I'm always on him about eating right and exercising. I appreciate you sharing your story!

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    1. Keep on him!! It is the best "medicine"!

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  5. So glad that you're feeling well now, with your pink mechanical pancreas :)
    I love how you're helping others. Thank you for being an inspiration!

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    1. Thank you and you're welcome!! I enjoy sharing my story so we all can learn from it!

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  6. I'm so glad you're taking care of yourself. My mom has Type 2 Diabetes and she didn't take care of it until later in her years. Because the waited so long this disease has taken her eyesight from one eye and she's lost half of her left foot. Not to mention other stuff she's endured.

    I share this because I want to reiterate what you said...that this disease is life changing and if it's not treated it can really take a toll on your overall health.

    To your health my dear!

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    1. I am sorry to hear of your mom. I was fortunate to have a team to rally around me and help me learn and better myself. My thoughts are with your family for good health!

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  7. Thanks so much for sharing your story. My hubs found out he had some years ago but was able to control it with diet and exercise and is out of the clear now. It's very easy to slip back to old habits but we know there are risks so we slip back out!

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    1. You're so right that it is hard to stay on track sometimes. Temptations are all around us but we have to be strong!

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  8. Wow!!! I learned a ton from reading this!!! I don't personally know anyone with diabetes so it was pretty interesting to read about someone who does :)

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    1. Glad you stopped by! It is good to hear that you don't personally know someone with any form of diabetes. Type 2 is fairly common in overweight individuals and type 1 is the rarity!

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  9. Thanks for sharing your story. My uncle has type 1 too. A lot of people really don't know much about it.

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    1. How is your uncle managing? You are right that it is the type of diabetes that you don't hear much about. We can just hope for a solution - a cure - that can help all diabetics :)

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  10. my nephew has diabetis. He had to learn how to remanage his entire life.

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    1. How old is your nephew? I was old enough that I understood what was going on and able to change my diet for myself. Thoughts to him!

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  11. Thank you for sharing your story - and I love your pink pump!!

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    1. Isn't it so fancy?!? Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. Sounds so stressful to me that kids have to go through this. Thanks for sharing your story.

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    1. I am sure as a parent it would be very stressful but I kind of just did as I was told and learned as I grew. Thank you for stopping by!

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  13. Sorry to hear this but glad that you are tackling it! Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Tackling every day. It is a blessing to be able to share my story with you!

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  14. Sorry to hear about this, but you'll stay strong, eat healthy, and get a system that works down pat. Praying for you!

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    1. Exactly!! Things happen for a reason! Thank you!!

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  15. great information. thank you for sharing

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    1. You're welcome. Thanks for stopping by!

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  16. Great post as always Great information!! Everyone needs to educate themselves more on what they are putting in their bodies. There is so much fake food out there theses days!!

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    1. Fake, processed food yuck! Stay tuned for a blog a with tips on how to stay away from those unhealthy foods!

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  17. I know quite a few people that have this, none in my immediate family. Its so important to keep a healthy diet though I never seem to follow that very well! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Diabetes, whether type 1 or 2, is very common unfortunately. We need to try to break the cycle and find a way to stop both types. Thank you for your comment!

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  18. Wow, this...well this freakin' sucks girl. I'm glad you're turning it into something positive.

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    1. Haha yes it sucks but we have to make the best of what we are given with life, right?! Thanks for stopping by!

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  19. Diabetes is quite common in my family. Good for you for being positive and stay strong!

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    1. I am sorry that it is common in your family. I hope that the cycle ends someday for your loved ones.

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  20. thanks for sharing your story, it sounds you and your mother are very strong women so props to you both on that

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  21. I've never heard before that chicken pox can cause diabetes. That's interesting.

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