As walk season and Diabetes Awareness Month get closer, and in light of my recent experience at the AADE (American Association of Diabetes Educators) conference, I’ve heard a lot of people talk about what it would mean to cure diabetes. To me, curing diabetes is about much more than being able to eat whatever I want, or about not being “different” in some way because of my diabetes.
Why do we need a cure? THIS is why.
Because type 1 diabetes is a disease that we didn’t ask for, didn’t cause, and that pervades each and every aspect of our lives.
Because our health relies on our ability to mimic a finely-tuned feedback loop of blood glucose and insulin supply between the brain, hormones, and the pancreas. (And let’s face it, we diabetics are good, but we’re not quite THAT good.)
Because we endure physical pain, callouses, bruises, and scar tissue to dose and deliver the life saving medication we need daily.
Because we get used to the needles, but they never stop hurting.
Because none of us can remember the last time we got a good night’s sleep. Because parents of children with diabetes should not have to wake up at 12 AM and 3 AM every single night. Because a CGM alarm jolting you awake 5 times a night is 5 times too many.
Because as I write this, my blood sugar is 322 after my third infusion set change of the day. Site change # 1 felt like I was being stabbed in the side with a burning sword, and site change # 2 came out with a bloody cannula. Here’s hoping site change # 3 was a success so I can go to sleep soon.
Because one autoimmune disease isn’t enough- Type 1 puts us at risk for hypothyroidism, Celiac disease, and premature rheumatoid arthritis, among other things.
Because I shouldn’t have to read that my disease puts me at a much higher risk for developing all sorts of infections in my microbiology textbook.
Because we know, in the back of our minds, that despite our best efforts, we could still go blind, or lose limbs, or go through kidney failure. All because of this disease we didn’t ask for and didn’t cause.
Because sometimes, the ability to manage your disease depends on your ability to pay for the supplies and medications.
Because we have to fight our insurance companies tooth and nail sometimes to get what we need. It’s an interesting experience, telling someone who knows nothing about diabetes that not having a certain medication/device is a health hazard and safety risk.
Because I’ve got enough charts and notebooks of blood sugar patterns and insulin rates to wallpaper my room- none of which have done me much good, thanks to the unpredictable nature of blood glucose.
Because the simple act of leaving your house for the day requires a completing a lengthy checklist, and forgetting any single item could be catastrophic.
Because “grabbing a bite to eat” and “going out for a run” are never just grabbing a bite to eat and going out for a run- so many factors have to be considered to complete either activity safely. And so are driving, flying, going on vacation…
Because type 1 diabetes is a disease that impacts physical, mental, emotional, and social well-being. A diagnosis changes your entire life, and the lives of those close to you. We are strong, we are fighters- but we need a cure.