Sunday, November 14, 2010

World Diabetes Day

Week 2: ACT
Sunday, November 14

World Diabetes Day – Today is World Diabetes Day, recognized by the United Nations, so across the globe people are taking an action to raise diabetes awareness. What about you?

I'm so glad that diabetes awareness has taken on the global scene in the form of World Diabetes Day...Hopefully there will be a World Diabetes Month before too long!  My involvement in diabetes awareness really began in full force with American Diabetes Month at the beginning of November.  I decided that the best thing I could do to participate would be to share my experience with being newly diagnosed with the disease with the masses through this blog.  My hope is that I can help someone somewhere live better with diabetes, or at least feel like they're not alone in dealing with it.

If you've been reading my posts, you probably know my story; however, since we're halfway through the month, I thought I would share a little bit about my situation for those who may be new to the blog.  So...I'm Ashley. I'm 22 years old, an August 2009 graduate of Texas Tech University, and a newlywed since January.  A couple of months ago (August 23rd to be exact, and ironically, our seven month wedding anniversary), I was diagnosed with diabetes.  I saw an endocrinologist at the end of September, and was told that I had Type 2 diabetes that I could most likely control through diet and exercise.  Since then, I've seen a CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator), attended a Diabetes Education Class, and gone to a Diabetes Health Fair.  Through all of these things (and the 10 or so books I've read since my diagnosis), I've learned a lot about the disease and living with it.

I've been able to control my blood glucose relatively well so far with diet and exercise alone, but more recently, I've been dealing with some unexplained high readings that have led me to consider that I may, in fact, be in the "honeymoon" stage of Type 1 or "Type 1 1/2", or Latent Autoimmune Diabetes of Adults (LADA).  With this phenomenon, blood glucose is normally fairly well controlled with diet and exercise and perhaps the use of oral hypoglycemics (drugs that help lower blood glucose) for some time (sometimes months or even years), but eventually, the pancreas completely stops producing insulin and injectible insulin is required to avoid high blood glucose and the resulting complications.

At the Diabetes Education Class and Health Fair I attended this week, several of the health professionals commented on the unusual nature of my diagnosis--I'm not overweight, I'm young and in relatively good health otherwise--in other words, not their typical Type 2 patient.  They seemed unconvinced that that could be the case, and that I should really keep an eye on my BG readings in case I am in that honeymoon stage and Type 1 or 1 1/2 is just around the corner for me.

When I was first diagnosed, I would have given anything to be Type 2 instead of Type 1.  My younger sister was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 16, so I knew what a struggle it was for her.  My dad, on the other hand, found out he has Type 2 Diabetes a couple of years ago, and he was able to control his through a strict diet, weight loss, and exercise.  I suppose for me it's a control issue...I don't like not having control over situations, so finding out I have diabetes brought out that part of my personality even more.  In my mind, at least with Type 2 you still had some control over what your body did, whereas with Type 1 you're dependent on insulin to stay alive.

That was my thinking originally, but since I've had some time to deal with the shock of my diagnosis, I've come to accept a lot of things that are beyond my control.  If it turns out I have Type 1, so be it.  LADA/Type 1 1/2, ditto.  I would just like to know so I can do something about it.  Yes, I'm very much a Type A perfectionist.  And if I'm one of those two types rather than Type 2, I want to go on insulin sooner rather than later, simply because scientists believe that this may save some of your existing beta cells (the cells that produce insulin in your pancreas) and make the disease easier to control in the long run. 

It may seem like I've accepted my diagnosis fairly well, and in some ways I have.  BUT, I still have days where I'm overwhelmed by the disease and everything that goes along with it.  The constant finger sticks, worrying, watching everything that I put in my mouth, and exercising in a furious effort to keep my BG under control...It's a lot to deal with.  Thinking about the future gets to me too, because I worry about health insurance and starting a family, with all of the extra attention that comes along with being pregnant and having diabetes.  I try not to worry myself too much about complications from the disease, because I know that they're largely preventable if you keep your blood glucose under control...And that's something I fully intend to do, whether that means taking medicines that have unpleasant side effects or injecting myself with insulin several times a day.  And hopefully, my insurance will pay for an insulin pump so I can have better control over my BG.  But that's for another day...=)


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