I've been pondering topics for this month's blog post. I try to incorporate Laila in some way if I can, but something someone said to me just yesterday has me feeling like it's time to educate. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, there are a few things I want everyone to know about this disease. I'll do my best to break it down and simplify it as much as possible, if you have any questions, you know you can always ask.
Let me preface this by saying just because you know someone who has diabetes doesn't mean you "know diabetes". The reason for this post is based on a conversation I had with a girl yesterday. She was young, preteen maybe, and was helping watch some children while the adults were busy. Laila needed to check her sugar, which she did, and reported to me herself. The girl repeated Laila's blood sugar to me after finding a 300+ reading, and I explained that was very high. The girl told me she "knows all about diabetes, cause two of my friends are major, major diabetics". I just smiled, thanked her for her help, and let her know there is no such thing. Diabetes is diabetes, though intensity varies, there's no such thing as a major, major diabetic.
*Type 1 Diabetes, commonly referred to as Type 1, or T1D, is an autoimmune disease in which a person's pancreas stops producing insulin. Insulin is a hormone that enables people to get energy from food.
*There is nothing, and I repeat: NOTHING, you can do to get rid of Type 1 diabetes. There's no magic pill, no special syrup, no cure. INSULIN is NOT a cure! There is also nothing you can do to prevent Type 1 diabetes, either. The cause is still unknown. In our situation, there was no genetic predisposition, no way of knowing beforehand Laila would be stricken with this awful disease.
*Type 1 diabetes means a lifelong dependency on insulin. In our situation, Laila wears an insulin pump. It's the closest thing to a working pancreas she'll probably ever have. Insulin is not a cure for diabetes, even with insulin, there's still the risk of high or low blood sugars, both life-threatening, in addition to multiple other serious effects.
*Everyone is different, and every diabetic is different. There is so much that goes on "behind the scenes" that most people don't ever see. Laila is "intensive treatment", which means every single thing she eats gets counted. Laila counts carbohydrates, everything, even something as tiny as a peanut, must be counted. In addition to counting carbohydrates, Laila has to be careful with other things like exercise, diet, sun exposure-even a common cold can fluctuate her sugars and cause additional complications.
I don't mean for this post to be negative, or to sound like Laila lives a life of impending doom. She's alive, and healthy. Diabetes is just one of the many hurdles Laila's going to face throughout the rest of her life. Producing insulin is the only thing she can't do. She's going to go through plenty of struggles, from a school girl crush to prom dress shopping, one day she's going to have an amazing career and a beautiful family.
Please, take the time to educate yourself. If you have a question, ask. Trust me, I can speak for Laila and myself when I say this-we would rather you just ask than make assumptions, say something ignorant or offensive, or talk about us after we leave. No question is offensive or too bold, I promise.