What is Diabetes
The easiest way for me to explain Diabetes is to fist explain how a non-diabetic’s pancreas functions. I have already said that I learned stuff that I think only doctors and such should know.
The pancreas is part of the digestive system in the body, it has a lot of functions, but here I am just explaining the part that has to do with diabetes. There are 3 hormones that affect the blood glucose (sugar) levels. They are glucogon, insulin and somatostatin, each are produced by alpha, beta and delta cells respectively. If there is too much insulin, and not enough glucose in the blood, the pancreas sends out alpha cells to make glucogon, which in turn tells the liver to release some stored glucose. If there is too much glucose, and not enough insulin, the liver stops releasing glucose, and the pancreas starts releasing beta cells, to make more insulin. If everything is balanced, the the pancreas releases delta cells, producing somatostatin, which blocks both alpha and beta cells from being released. I don’t know how the body knows this, that is a little too much for this post, and me too, after all, the important part is that it happens, and it works well for most people.
When you have Type 1 Diabetes, there is an anti-body that kills off the beta cells, and you can no longer produce insulin. With no insulin, the cells don’t have energy, and starts using stored fat for energy. Before insulin was discovered, people would eventually starve to death, even if they were able to eat. If your body uses fat for energy for too long, that causes other problems that I will talk about in a later post. With Type 2 Diabetes, the pancreas still produces beta cells and insulin, but the cells don’t use the insulin efficiently or does not make enough insulin.
If you have Type 1 Diabetes, (T1), then you need to get insulin from an external source. Currently T1’s have 2 main methods of getting insulin. The first way is Multiple Daily Injections (MDI) of insulin, or the use of an Insulin Pump. I have experienced both. If you do the MDI method, you will usually have a rapid acting insulin and a long acting insulin. The rapid acting is for use when you eat, the long acting is injected once or twice a day and provides the body with insulin when not eating. The best place to inject is in the stomach, but you can use arms, legs or butt. With an Insulin pump, you usually use just the rapid acting insulin. The pump injects small doses of insulin every hour to help regulate the glucose levels when not eating. For every time you eat, you tell the pump how much (how many carbohydrates) you are going to eat, and the pump will inject a larger dose of insulin, to take care of the extra glucose that you will have. For me, I believe that pump is better way to go. I just think it mimics the pancreas and is a more natural way for glucose control.
I guess this will not be complete without adding some of the symptoms to look for. Here goes. Probably the two most noticeable are extreme thirst, and frequent urination. For me, the urination was the worst, the feeling to have to go would “sneak up” on me. I would not feel the urge to go on second, then the next second, have the feeling like an urgent need to go, and it really was urgent. Some others are hunger, fatigue, weight loss or sometimes a gain, blurred vision. Finally for me, what got me to call an ambulance, was nausea and vomiting, I was having pains in my chest, and it actually hurt to breath. I urge you, if you are not diagnosed, not to wait as long as I did, as soon as you see the first two symptoms, run, don’t walk to the nearest doctor. If you are older than 30 or so, and they tell you that you have Type 2, ask your doctor if they checked for Type 1 diagnosis too. If there was not T1 tests done, insist on it. There are reports of more older people being misdiagnosed with T2, and it is assumed you have T2 because of your age, and “usually” T2 is what the problem is. If you are treated for T2, and you have T1, that can cause more problems.
While a diabetic can learn to semi – control the disease, you cannot be perfect all the time. There is so much the body does that our technology (as great as it is) cannot tell us. As careful I try to be, there are times when no matter what I do, something just doesn’t work right. I will get a high glucose levels, and simply will not be able to get it down, or I can eat something, and my glucose levels will go down, and I will not be able to get it back up. One time the candy that I eat will get my glucose levels up just a little, the next time, the same candy will get my levels way to high. No real way to tell what is going to happen. Got to be like a boy scout, always prepared. One day I will get a picture of my “emergency” supplies that I have around all the time.
Here is a link for some interesting facts about diabetes.
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