Diabetes Mellitus Type 1 (let’s make this easier and call it DT1), is an illness in which the pancreas creates no insulin, causing high levels of sugar in the blood (BG levels), migraines, high ketone levels and possible comatose or death. The cause of DT1 is currently unknown, but it is suspected to be genetic, or due to stress. Approximately 1.25 million American children and adults have type 1 diabetes. DT1 is usually diagnosed before the age of 40, and is one of the most deadliest diseases. In 2012, about 1.5 million people died from diabetes-related causes, according to WHO. There are no visible signs of DT1, making it a disease that is invisible in more than one way.
I have been living with DT1 for thirteen years, and was diagnosed at the young age of 4. My family and I were thrown into the routine of constant injections, finger pricks and medication with little to no notice. Growing up, I was one of three children with DT1 in my village and had never met someone in common with me until the age of 8. I was an avid reader in my childhood and have unfortunately to this day only read one book that mentions DT1. Sure, I’ve read books about characters with cancer, depression and Parkinson’s, but never one that describes what really happens to me and millions of other children.
Why, when I use my insulin pump in public places, do I receive strange looks and questions? How have oxygen tanks and wheelchairs become the norm, when millions of children and teenagers are hiding their BG monitors, insulin pumps and injections?
There are little to no media sources that explain and raise awareness of DT1, so children and teenagers just like me must have told the age old tale of why we are bleeding from our fingers and why that weird machine is beeping, a millions times. This knocked my confidence at a young age, and caused me to become self conscious of my actions and eating habits in front of friends and strangers, all because they don’t and never will understand. I’m still waiting to find a movie or book that will show my daily life and hopefully explain the torture and stress that millions of peoples bodies and minds go through, 24/7.
If you’ve got a friend or family member with DT1, make sure to try and research, understand and accept their mood swings and constant stress and maybe give them a hug.