Wednesday, November 11, 2009

You want diabetes factoids? I got diabetes factoids....

In honor of World Diabetes Day, I am pleased to present you with Alissa's diabetes factoids.  She wrote each of these to post on her Facebook status to help spread awareness about Type 1 diabetes.  You rock, A! :)


26 Diabetes Factoids

by Alissa (ah-LEE-sah) Levenberg, D mom extraordinaire
(in reverse alphabetical order by last word)
(… because Melinda challenged her to, and because it’s more fun that way)
Z  #1: Type 1 (aka Juvenile or Insulin Dependent) diabetes is caused by an immune system misfire. The body attacks the cells that make insulin, leaving one 100% dependent on external insulin administration in order to stay alive. A Type 1 diabetic produces no insulin at all; zero, zilch, zippo.
Y #2: The cells that make insulin are called Beta Cells and live in things called "Islets" which are located in the pancreas. Once the immune system has begun the attack on the beta cells, there is absolutely nothing that can stop it. Yet.
X #3: Cutting edge research has allowed scientists to breed mice with fluorescent T-cells (immune system cells). This makes it possible to understand the process of autoimmunity by observing the life cycles and structures of these cells using MRI and X-rays.
W #4: The vast majority of people who have “diabetes” have Type 2, so people tend to think of Type 2 when they think of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5-10% of all cases and is linked to genetics rather than lifestyle. Annually, 70,000 children (almost 200 children a day) develop Type 1 diabetes worldwide.
V #5: The complications from Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are the same. High blood sugars cause damage to delicate blood vessels and can lead to heart and kidney problems, neuropathy of the hands and feet, or loss of vision.
U #6: The hormone insulin is responsible for bringing glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream to the body’s cells. All cells require glucose for energy, but if there is no insulin present, sugar just builds up in the bloodstream and can’t be used.
T #7: When not enough insulin is present, cells begin to starve and start burning fat in order to survive. This creates a byproduct called “ketones” and causes dehydration, acidic body chemistry, and can quickly lead to coma or death if not aggressively treated.
S #8: Injectable insulin first became available in 1922, allowing people to live many years after diagnosis. It was very slow acting however, so people with Type 1 diabetes had to rigorously control their diets and severely restrict their intake of simple sugars.
R #9: Until recently, the only way to take insulin was via multiple daily injections. New technologies have produced pager sized insulin pumps that are worn externally and deliver insulin through a catheter. Insulin pumps cannot yet “control blood sugar” as many news stories falsely report.
Q #10: All carbohydrates produce a rise in blood sugar, regardless of whether they have actual sugar in them. “Sugar free” items still have carbs. Also, the high fat content of foods like regular ice cream or chocolate will prevent sugars from entering the bloodstream too quickly.
P #11: Many families who live with this disease will report that nothing quite tops having people suggest their kids try some diet, exercise, or herbal supplement “cure diabetes” scheme as their biggest pet peeve.
O #12: Once you inject or infuse insulin with a syringe or pump, there is no way to take it back. That is why there is such a high frequency of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). With a functioning pancreas, when blood sugar levels start to drop, the insulin gets automatically turned OFF.
N #13: Nocturnal hypoglycemia (night time low blood sugar) is one of the most frightening aspects of Type 1 diabetes. When a person is sleeping, they may not feel lows and it is possible to die in one’s sleep (DIB = Dead In Bed). Many parents of Type 1 children get up and check their sugar several times every night.
M #14: Every time a person with diabetes eats, they must calculate: How many carbs is that? What is my current ratio of insulin to carbohydrates? Do I have any active insulin still in my system? etc… This never ending pre-meal exercise leads to the saying: What do diabetics have as an appetizer? Math.
L #15: It is very important to make sure that children with diabetes get to be “kids first”. People often express worry about these kids having occasional sugary treats but they need to understand that a) sugar is not the biggest challenge when it comes to messing up blood sugars, and b) you have to make sure you don’t let diabetes take over their lives.
K #16: Illness is one of the top challenges when living with diabetes. Blood sugars spike quickly, “ketones” develop, and the body becomes highly insulin resistant. Often it is necessary to get emergency medical treatment to deal with DKA: Diabetic Ketoacidosis.
J #17: Just about everything can affect blood sugar levels. Trying to balance insulin dosing, exercise, food, sickness, hormones, growth spurts, schedule changes, weather changes, stress, pump failures and (seemingly) the current location of Jupiter requires the full time skills of an expert juggler.
I #18: Hypoglycemia is when there is too little sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream. Since the brain needs a constant source of glucose in order to function, the result of a severe low blood sugar is a seizure. Brain damage and death can occur if the low blood sugar is not treated immediately.
H #19: The normal average range for blood sugars in a person without diabetes is 70-120 (or post meals, 140). Having a blood sugar above range is called HYPERglycemia, while having blood sugars below range is called HYPOglycemia.
G #20: The liver stores “backup” glucose in the form of “glycogen”. Between meals and during extended exercise, the liver will release part of this store in order to keep blood sugars from going low. The hormone that triggers this release is called Glucagon.
F #21: People with Type 1 diabetes should always be carrying an Emergency Glucagon Kit to be used in the case of seizure or severe low blood sugar. This shot will trigger the liver to release its store of glycogen. Here ( ) is where pictures of the kit can be found.
E #22: Continuous Glucose Monitoring Systems are among the most exciting new technologies. In current systems, a tiny wire or probe is inserted under the skin that reads “interstitial” (fluid that is found between the cells) glucose levels. This gets calibrated to actual blood glucose levels. When blood sugars go too low or high, a receiver device will sound an alarm. I have one word for this: Excellent.
D #23: Symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include: frequent urination, excessive thirst, fatigue, rapid weight loss, fruity smelling breath, sweating, blurred vision, nausea or vomiting, and rapid breathing. Tragically, many children die each year from the unrecognized onset of Type 1 diabetes.
C #24: There is nothing a person with Type 1 diabetes can’t do. From Miss America to Mr. Universe, from professional bicycle racers, to Iditarod mushers, to climbers of Mr. Everest, there are examples everywhere of people who rejected “you can’t” and instead figured out what they needed to do to prove that “you can”.
B #25: Insulin pumps greatly facilitate diabetes management. Instead of injecting multiple daily shots, the user can deliver constant micro doses throughout the day. When they eat or need to correct a high blood sugar, their pump calculates the proper dosage. Only about half the total daily dose of insulin covers food. The other half is just for the steady background infusion, called the “Basal”. The one-time doses to cover food or highs are called the “Bolus”.
A #26: There are several groups dedicated to finding the cure for Type 1 diabetes. Among them are: JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) and the DRI (Diabetes Research Institute). The day our kids can throw away their glucose meters, test strips and lancets, lay down their pumps, glucose tabs, frosting tubes, spare pump supplies and Glucagon kits, and we parents can sleep soundly through the night will be truly Awesome.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Diabetes, must you intrude EVERYWHERE?

In the last 2 weeks, Miss M tried out for the school cheer team.  Yes, indeed, my dark and twisty girl who would be goth in a heartbeat if I would let her (well, her sanitized version, anyhow) wanted to join the school jump-up-and-down-and-be-perky squad.  She worked really hard after not making it last year, practicing her dance, her moves, and smiling on cue. 

Monday night, she was dancing in the kitchen, her lovely brother harassing her, when she turned and said, "Mom, I'm going to make it this year. I'm going to smile a lot more.  I think I didn't make it last year because I didn't smile enough. Oh, and because I have diabetes."

'Scuse me?  Did I REALLY just hear that?

I think I swallowed my tongue.  When I regained the power of speech, I asked her to clarify that last statement. Calmly, I hope....she said, "S (a girl on the squad) told me she heard Ms A. talking to someone and she said that C and I didn't make the squad last year because of us having diabetes. We were way better than some of the people who made it." 

OhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhKay.  Start breathing again.  Calm down before responding.  Engage brain.

I told her that I hoped that S was mistaken, and that I would hope that Ms A wouldn't have kept her and/or C off the squad due to diabetes, since she KNOWS that I am always there and she KNOWS that would be highly illegal, not to mention just flat-out WRONG. I tried to remind her that she was only a 6th grader last year, that nearly 40 people tried out for 12 spots, and that mostly 7th and 8th graders made it....sigh. I encouraged her to do her best, to keep practicing and to smile, and see what happens.  She said she was pretty sure it was the diabetes.  I really thought it might have been the crabby attitude and lack of practice, but I kept that to myself.....


Tuesday, I mentioned it to the coworker who was helping to judge tryouts.  After her head stopped exploding, she said she would make sure that there was nothing of the sort taking place this year.  :)
I asked her what she thought I should do, and she said go talk to Ms A.....which I *so* did not want to do.  As much as I talk and shoot off my mouth without thinking (KPF, you stop laughing right now) I really do NOT enjoy conflict. Turned out that I had to leave for a doctor's appointment before I could find her - how sad is it that I'd rather have a shot of cortisone directly injected into my shoulder than go have an unpleasant conversation? Tryouts commenced, and when I returned from the doctor to pick up Miss M, she said she thought it had gone well. Coworker M came through my room and told her she had done well - M excitedly asked, "HOW well?" and Coworker M said, "well, the decision is being made now so I don't know, but you were good!"  That made Miss M feel better.

Wednesday morning - nope. No cheer squad for M.
Wednesday mid-day, in the staff lounge, Miss A comes in to the copy machine. I decided to bite the bullet, so to speak, and tell her that a little birdie had informed my daughter that she didn't make cheer because of diabetes.  She was shocked, appalled, angry that someone would say such a thing, and told me she thought M was very close and should try out again next year. I asked her to please, then, TELL Miss M that she did well and that diabetes was NOT the reason she did not make the squad.   She agreed, and on the way out of school at the end of the day, stopped Miss M and said, "Hey! Come talk to me tomorrow. I want to talk to you."  M thought she was in trouble. :)

I don't know the gist of the conversation, but I do know it took place, and M seems to be okay with everything.....I don't know if I'm more annoyed that someone who has been a friend to M since kindergarten would tell her that, or annoyed that she didn't make the squad, or annoyed at diabetes having to stick its stinking nose into every little thing all the dang time.

And in the grand scheme of things, with people losing loved ones this week and mass shootings taking place, this isn't really a major issue - except to one twelve-year-old girl and her heart.


Monday, November 2, 2009

BOO! This year's Walk is in the books

Saturday was our fifth JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes, with the awesome Halloween theme of "Say BOO! to Diabetes!"  I love that.  I'm trying to find "Boobert", this year's walk logo - he's the cutest little ghostie wearing JDRF snakers. :) This year, I served as a "staff" person, since next year I will be one of the co-Family Walk Chairpeople.  (Chairpersons?)  Holy guacamole, I knew it was a giant undertaking, putting on the world's largest JDRF walk, but really? I had *no* idea exactly how hard it really would be.  I finally cashed it in after being at the park for a 11.5 hours; I think the real staffers were there at least another couple of hours, and they were there all day Friday setting up as well.  Missy Miss and I went over for a couple of hours on Friday, too, but really, it was nothing compared to the total number of hours required.

The good news is that the weather was the best it's been in the 5 years we've been going, and despite the crummy economy there was a great turnout.  No idea on the money yet; I do hope that enough came in to at least meet last year's walk, though I won't be terribly shocked if it doesn't happen.  Many, many of the families I know said that they did not raise as much as they did last year.

The bad news? Once again, no pictures. I had no camera with me; I was so focused on getting there before sunrise and trying to learn all I could that I spaced out taking a camera with me. I am not a good scrapbooker! My membership in Scrappers Anonymous is going to be revoked....again.
Visit Wendy's blog or Kelly's blog for a few lovely pictures of the event - Wendy even snapped one of Missy Miss eating a donut with her own Miss Addy!  (Funny, I never heard anything about her having a donut....)

I look so forward to the day when we don't have to have a walk, but instead we have a "remember when the cure was discovered" party.  Then we will really be able to say BOO! to diabetes.