Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Finally! An article on type 1 diabetes

Anyone who has read much of my blog knows that I've complained ad nauseam about articles that lump type 1 diabetes in with type 2, as if they are anywhere close to being the same disease.  Finally, today, NPR ran a piece on the trials of living with type 1 diabetes -- except that it's not a very flattering picture.

Tight Control Of Type 1 Diabetes Saves Lives, But It's Tough

As someone who has lived with Type 1 myself for over 40 years – I was diagnosed in 1973, at age 9 – I can tell you that keeping my blood sugars in control 24/7 is incredibly difficult. And that's despite having the knowledge on how to do it, as well as the health insurance that covers my test strips and insulin pump supplies. Many others with Type 1 diabetes don't, which helps explain the gap between what the studies say is best practice and what happens in real life.

The article makes it sound like we're all living on the brink of death, and that because of it, we don't take care of ourselves -- which surely is true for some diabetics, but not for all.

Last night before bed my blood sugar was also in the 200s; I was working late, and stress hormones alone can raise blood sugar. So I told my insulin pump to give me a small "correction" dose to lower it. But I held back giving the full amount that my pump recommended because, as always, I feared over-correcting and dropping too low during the night. The fear of not waking up in the morning because of low blood sugar is a constant in the life of those of us with Type 1 diabetes, and it's one of the main reasons we struggle to stay in control.

Certainly I am guilty of being conservative about how much insulin I give myself to correct before bed, but it's not because I am afraid of never waking up -- it's because I hate the experience of waking up crashing.

Overall, though, I think the article does a good job of illustrating the position type 1 diabetics are in: Staying in good control is like walking a tightrope, with too-high blood sugars on one side and too-low blood sugars on the other.  And the author is absolutely right, in that good health care at least makes tight control possible, whereas many diabetics don't even have that option.

The picture the article paints isn't quite as dark and gloomy as you would think, though.  It talks about the huge impact staying in tight control can have on one's health.  I found it inspiring, and am resolving to make a better effort to stay in good control.  I used to be, but over the past year or two, my control has slipped.

How about you?  Could you benefit from a little tighter control?

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