Tag Archives: Type 1 Diabetes

Why November is rapidly becoming a month I’m not lovin’ so much.

I have a problem with the month of April.  Really crappy things have happened in the month of April and now, whenever that month rolls around, I sort of wish we could skip over those thirty days and get on with May.

November is a bit of a rough month though too.  I was born in November and, seven and a half hours after I was born, my maternal grandfather died of lung cancer.  Exactly one week later, my paternal great-grandmother died.  I’ve grown up with the memories of others in regards to these two individuals and, I must confess, I always feel a little ripped off.

But for the most part, November is a wonderful month.  I love fall and the crisp, clean(er) air it brings.  I love the colour changing and wearing berets and, yes, I even love the cold, wet weather too.

This time though, I’m not loving November quite so much.

For those of us in the diabetic community, it’s Diabetes month, except that, for those living with the disease, every month is diabetes month and we’re all painfully aware of it.

Until this year, I had no idea there was World Diabetes Day (November 14th this year, in case you’d like to “celebrate” it).  I had no idea that there was a blue circle to “brand diabetes” and “give diabetes a common identity”.  Ignorance, as they say, was bliss.

But then I got diagnosed and the last four months have been anything but easy.  And I’ve been on the internet ever since learning about my diabetes and trying to understand the other diabetes out there.

“So what’s your type?”

Mine is the suck ass kind and after reading another (much admired) blog post on World Diabetes Day, I’m not sure I will ever want to answer that question again.

It shouldn’t matter what type you are. Diabetes, all around,  supremely sucks sweaty monkey balls.  No, I can’t relate to having my tubing getting caught on a door knob (I can only imagine!).  I don’t know what it’s like to have to take insulin on a regular basis for the rest of my life in order to survive, but I can learn about it and try to empathize and not be so obtuse to that type.

So imagine my surprise, as I was reading this blog post, that I started getting the general sense that I, along with anyone else who has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, that I somehow asked for it.  That I made a lifestyle choice to get diabetes.

I am going to stop for a moment and say that the rest of this post is born out of the anger and frustration of being a diabetic and knowing I am actively doing things to improve the quality of my life and, I hope, for others.

I did not sign up to become a diabetic.

Sure.  Maybe T2D is largely preventable.  It’s much more largely preventable if it’s actually talked about.  But in my case, I wasn’t ever told that I could be running the risk of getting diabetes.

I had no idea the constant stress I was under was making me a candidate for this shitty disease.  I had no idea that my poor sleeping habits weren’t helping the situation either.  I thought I was doing good – I don’t drink any alcohol, I don’t smoke (and I miss a good cigar!), I don’t do recreational drugs.  Hell, I don’t even go to McDonald’s!

Yes, I could have been a bit more active or not had that bag of crisps or whatever, but again, I did not sign up to become a diabetic.

I absolutely resent (many things actually) that my diabetes was a lifestyle choice.  I did not knowingly ever make a lifestyle choice to become diabetic. Never once did I have a medical professional or a pharmacist or anyone say to me, “Hey, you know… you’re getting older and you’re not as active as you once were.  Did you know all that stress and being less active and not eating as healthy as you should could lead you to a path of diabetes?”  It was never in the equation.

Would it have made a difference?  I don’t know.  I’d like to think that perhaps it would have, but I’m not sure.  I am not the same person I was this time, last year.

Maybe there is a huge bias in this year’s awareness campaign towards T2D.  I’m sorry for that.  I almost feel personally responsible because, and God knows, T2D’s are taking over the world one body at a time.

This is in no way meant to diminish the severity of Type 1.  Again, I can’t imagine what it’s like to have Type 1 and I’m not going to pretend to try.  I try to understand it better than some, I try to learn things from those that are afflicted with it and I want to be someone that helps in the battle to find a cure for it.

But I want to find a cure for Type 2 as well.

Maybe that is “diet and exercise” for the masses, but for fuck’s sake, someone start saying that out loud; louder than it’s been said before.  Because while T1D’s had absolutely no control over their disease, and while a percentage of T2D’s may have a predisposition, nobody sets out to become diabetic.

I get enough guilt thrown at me from my government and health care professionals.  I would hope the diabetic community wouldn’t start throwing guilt at T2D’s too.

(As an aside, I have found far more many blogs about T1D than T2D.  I wondered why that was but… I think I get it now.)


I am not a number.

I’ve been trying to write something for days now.  I have lots on my mind, so there’s no shortage of ideas, but trying to articulate them is another story all together.

For those of you with diabetes, regardless of type, I am not about to say anything new or revolutionary.  For those of you who don’t, some of these statistics may shock you.  If they don’t, they should.

An estimated 285 million people worldwide are affected by diabetes. With a further 7 million people developing diabetes each year, this number is expected to hit 438 million by 2030.

Today, more than 9 million Canadians live with diabetes or prediabetes.

Approximately 10% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes. The number of people with type 2 diabetes is increasing dramatically due to a number of factors:

  • The population is aging.
  • Obesity rates are rising.
  • Canadian lifestyles are increasingly sedentary.
  • Aboriginal people are three to five times more likely than the general population to develop type 2 diabetes.
  • Almost 80% of new Canadians come from populations that are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. These include people of Aboriginal, Hispanic, Asian, South Asian or African descent.

The personal costs of diabetes may include a reduced quality of life and the increased likelihood of complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, amputation and erectile dysfunction.

  • Approximately 80% of people with diabetes will die as a result of heart disease or stroke.
  • Diabetes is a contributing factor in the deaths of approximately 41,500 Canadians each year.
  • Canadian adults with diabetes are twice as likely to die prematurely, compared to people without diabetes.
  • Life expectancy for people with type 1 diabetes may be shortened by as much as 15 years. Life expectancy for people with type 2 diabetes may be shortened by 5 to 10 years.

The financial burden of diabetes and its complications is enormous.

  • People with diabetes incur medical costs that are two to three times higher than those without diabetes. A person with diabetes can face direct costs for medication and supplies ranging from $1,000 to $15,000 a year.
  • By 2020, it’s estimated that diabetes will cost the Canadian healthcare system $16.9 billion a year.¹

When I was diagnosed, a whole seven weeks ago, this was the information I was reading.  It comes as no surprise to me that 25% of all diabetics are also dealing with depression.  These numbers go well beyond the, “No more pedicures!” and “Eat less, move more!” information that was supplied to me by the medical professionals.  Reading all of this made me depressed.  It also made me angry.

I read on a blog, the other day, that an individual who had been diagnosed had gone through this horrible period of adjustment that his medical team had equated to mourning a loss.  That’s exactly what I had been thinking and, I must confess, that it was nice to see validation from someone else.

For the newly diagnosed, there has to be time allowed to mourn the loss of the spontaneity in life, especially when it comes to food and drink.  There also needs to be a degree of understanding, or compassion, that we’re not all mourning that we’ll never be able to eat poutine again, or that we’ll have to give up whatever sinful food you want to come up with.  For me, and I’ve mentioned this before, it’s hard to grasp that, seemingly healthy foods are messing with my blood sugar.  Bananas and pineapple should not be seen as evil, and yet, I know I shouldn’t really be partaking in them.

But more importantly, at least in my humble opinion, the medical profession needs to look at each new case of diabetes and treat them equally and not making the assumption that dropping a diagnosis on someone and providing the sage medical advice of “Diet and exercise” will suffice.

I am eternally grateful, at least right now, that my diabetes isn’t being controlled with oral medications and / or insulin.  I do take low dosage meds for high blood pressure and cholesterol, but they are low dosage.  Would this not be an excellent time, as a medical professional, to talk to me and see what I’m feeling about all of this and how I can become one less statistic?

I have no intention of adding myself to the litany of statistics posted by the Canadian Diabetes Association.

I do have every intention of utilizing all the resources that are supposed to be made available to me – ophthalmologist, dietician, CDE, anyone else who wishes to participate in my health – so that I am not the burden to society that diabetics are made to feel.  So that I am not the poster child of the middle aged, obese diabetic.  Nor will I be the depressed diabetic in need of meds just to get happy.

I can’t do this alone.  I do need help, and resources, and I’m not afraid to admit that, but I am not prepared to be set adrift to figure this out on my own and hope for the best.

I want to write a piece that gives hope to newly diagnosed diabetics.  I want to be a person that can show someone else that it’s not all doom and gloom and that there are really good people out there that are trained to help diabetics adapt to a new lifestyle.

I want to be the sort of person that I came across on other blogs, the diabetics, regardless of type, who told me that it is a difficult adjustment but that it does get easier.  That shared what knowledge they had and have been so patient in listening to me rant.

So now to plan for the next steps.  Buckle up kids, this could get messy!

 

Character - by Helen Keller

¹ Canadian Diabetes Association – The prevalence and cost of diabetes.

 

 


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