Unless all of your friends decided to go to medical school, most people aren’t too familiar with what it even means to be a type 1 diabetic. Do you eat all the sugars? Do you ‘shoot up’ for funsies? Why aren’t you FAT?????
here is what’s happenin’ inside my body:
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune diseases cause abnormal overactivity of the immune system, causing the body to attack and damage its own tissues. In a diabetic’s case, the immune system cells begin to attack and destroy the insulin-producing cells in our body, resulting in uncontrolled blood sugars and the need for insulin injections.
but what is diabetes???
Let’s start with the pancreas. It’s a lil organ inside your abdomen that sits behind the stomach. A non-diabetic’s pancreas has a very important job. That job is releasing the hormone insulin which stabilizes blood sugar levels in the body. If you eat something with carbohydrates (like pizza), your blood sugar levels will rise and your natural insulin hormone will release to lower those levels back to a normal range (generally anywhere from 70-110 mg/dL).
A diabetic’s pancreas doesn’t work. It broke. It doesn’t produce insulin to naturally stabilize our blood sugar levels. So if I were to eat that pizza, my blood sugar would increase without any natural insulin to bring it back down. Therefore, we must inject, pump or inhale a synthetic insulin every day in order to function like a living human bean. BASICALLY, type 1 diabetics have to take insulin every time we eat something that has carbohydrates. This kind of sucks because everything delicious on this earth has carbohydrates. (Except cheese, cheese is delicious AND nice to my pancreas)
Keep in mind that this is only type 1 diabetes. There are three types: Type 1, Type 2, and Gestational. (There are also a few other smaller types that are a mix of two but these are the main three)
- Type 1 Diabetes is also known as Juvenile Diabetes, due to most patients being diagnosed as a child. Lil baby diabetus. We are insulin dependent.
- Type 2 Diabetics are a little different. You will see more people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes as adults. Their pancreas’ insulin-producing cells don’t entirely stop working, they still make insulin, their bodies have just created a resistance to it, making it harder to stabilize naturally without some form of insulin (normally in pill form). In some cases, Type 2 Diabetes can be reversed through exercise and a healthy diet. They are insulin resistant.
- Gestational Diabetes occurs temporarily during pregnancy caused by insulin resistance. Women diagnosed with gestational diabetes generally require insulin to control blood sugar levels. Once the baby is born, and the mother slows her production of insulin-opposing hormones, she may not need to use insulin anymore.
If you’re still feeling a little confused about what is happening, here’s a fun list of terms I will use often on this blog and in real life.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for type 1 diabetes. Those of us with a broken pancreas will have it until someone finds a cure someday. But until then, we will continue to learn about our bodies, grow our experiences, share our knowledge, and support one another.
There is so much more information to share about diabetes than this short overview. Never hesitate to reach out to me with questions or comments on all things diabetes (or life in general). I would love to hear from you!