“Now mate, you shouldn’t be doing drugs in here”. I turn around to see 6” Scotsman staring straight down at me with a needle stuck in my stomach. Needless to say, I’m no longer wearing clean underwear. However, I know, like most, that I’m in fact not on heroin, no matter how many times my friends try to convince the general public that I am. I am in fact a type 1 diabetic. I now have 2 choices. I could be upfront with the guy, tell him about the condition, take the apology and say that it was an easy mistake. OR, i could roll my eyes back into my head, give a small shudder and sigh as I take the needle out, just to mess with his head. Of course, me being 5” 9’ and him looking like the Kraken, I take the first option, although there’s an undeniable look of doubt on his face.
I don’t know if this is a common situation for other diabetics, but i do know that type 1 diabetes is an increasingly common condition amongst teenagers and young adults. I also know that every time I research diabetes, which admittedly is very little, i learn something new. Sometimes it’s something good, like insulin being a fantastic excuse for weight gain, but there are some horrible things on the internet, and I’ve also found that over 60% of nontrumatic lower-limb amputations occur in diabetics. But there’s always a silver lining, at least i get to eat chocolate in class. Anyway, here are some facts from the US database on Diabetes
The total number of cases in 2011 was 25.8 million, or 8.3% of the population
In 2007, the total cost of diagnosed diabetes was $174 billion. And this doesn’t include the estimated 7 million undiagnosed cases.
About 215,000 people under 20 have diabetes in the UK
The rest of them are a bit morbid to put in here, but in any case, it’s better not to have it.
Given the skyrocketing number of cases of child obesity in the UK, people often assume that, if you have diabetes, you have type 2, of which one cause is a poor diet. However, type 1 is not believed to be triggered by diet, but rather by a diabetogenic trigger or a driving antigen. For those of us not doing a Biology degree, essentially, one little mix up in the body, whether it be bacteria, virus or even just trauma, and the faulty gene in your body kicks off. This stops the cells in your pancreas, the little leaf-shaped organ, producing insulin. From there, it all gets very technical. My advice is just to let the doctors who have trained for years to know the ins and outs of diabetes do their job, and you don’t have to worry about it.
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic illness, meaning there is no cure (come on the stem cells), so it needs to be treated by insulin injections. It cannot be taken in pill form, as the body would break down the insulin before it reached the necessary parts. The irony of that part alone hurts more than the injections. The injections are absolutely nothing, as the needles are tiny and only need to stay in for 5 or so seconds. The only thing you need to get over is the constant questioning at every meal when you get it out. There are only two questions that constantly come up when i’m amongst friends. The first is one that I honestly don’t know the answer to, and yet i continue to be asked. From the person trying to be mature and sciency, I am always asked “what would happen if someone without diabetes took that?” My standard reply is very simple, “I wouldn’t”, which i guess is honest, because why would you? From my internet trawling, it looks as though if you were to be stupid enough to do it, you’d end up in a coma, or if you took enough, you’d end up dead. The second question, which was funny when we were about 10, but has become the absolute bane of my existence, is “can you do that into you balls?” No. Of course I can’t, you idiot. Even if it were one of the place that i could, why in the name of God would I voluntarily inject the most sensitive area on my body?
Type 2 diabetes is one of the fastest growing conditions in the UK, and that’s not a joke about growing waistbands. Unlike type 1, type 2 can be caused by diet. It’s caused when your liver, muscles and fat cannot store sugars, so there is a build of sugar in the blood, causing hyperglycemia. This is called insulin resistance, and can be caused by a build up of fat,which makes it harder to use insulin in your body. lso unlike type 1, type 2 diabetes can occur slowly over time, with sufferers often not even knowing they have the condition in the early stages. For all you hypercondriacs reading this, don’t worry, you are fine. Chances are you know if you have it, and if even if you don’t, it’s chronic
The treatment for type 2 can be different to type 1, as you may not need to use insulin. It is common that you will be able to control the condition with regular exercise and a healthy diet, although the fatigue, incrased thirst and possible numbness in the feet and hands won’t make that easy. If the condition continues to worsen, doctors may advise that you start to use insulin injections or pumps, the same as type 1 sufferers. If diabetes is left untreated, in both cases, it can lead to blindness or loss of feet. This is caused by reduced blood flow through the blood vessels, causing damage in the eye and reduced flow through the feet. But this can all be controlled if you can keep a lid on the blood sugars, which is easier said than done with the constant temptations of places like Thornton’s or Professor Banana’s.
This article may have got you worrying a bit about whether you’re one of the millions that suffer from diabetes, but I assure you, there’s very little to worry about! Just break the current mould by actually getting outside, putting down the controller and doing some exercise from time to time. To lighten the mood, we’ll end with a few diabetic jokes:
Turns out my wife is both diabetic and suffers from hay fever
I’ve been trying to cheer her up with gifts, you know, flowers, chocolate…
“What’s the worst that can happen” read the Dr. Pepper label…
And finally, always remember, the road to diabetes will be sweet.