Three years ago (almost to the day) my daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Until then, I had very little knowledge of the disease other than there were two types. Type 1 and Type 2.
Type 1 diabetes (also known as Juvenile) is most commonly diagnosed from infancy to late 30’s. It is an autoimmune disease. With Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas stops working completely (no insulin is produced). This is not caused by lifestyle choices. There is nothing that can be done (at the moment) to reverse Type 1. You can watch the video below to learn a little more about life with Type 1 diabetes:
Someone with Type 1 cannot regulate their blood sugar levels – so need to keep a regular check via a finger pricker and testing strips, multiple times a day – every day. Insulin needs to be given via injection or infusion pump pretty much whenever any carbohydrate is eaten. There are lots of situations that cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate such as exercise, illness, hormones and weather. This is only a little snapshot of life with Type 1. What I’m trying to say is day to day living is tough.
When the media talks about ‘diabetes’ and lifestyle choices, they are not talking about Type 1 diabetes and it is incredibly frustrating and can make life even harder for those living with the condition. Rarely do I see an article distinguishing between Type 1 and Type 2. Type 2* (Adult onset) usually effects people over 40. The pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. Many people with Type 2 can control the condition through diet, exercise and monitoring their blood glucose. (*Source: JDRFUK).
My daughter is so ashamed of having Type 1 that she is willing to compromise her health so as not to let people know. This is because of the way ‘diabetes’ is reported in the media and comments often used in social media. There are many illnesses that I have no insight into and therefore, I wouldn’t dream of making throw away comments about them. For some reason, ‘diabetes‘ seems to be a free for all for people to poke fun at. Whether it’s Type 1 or Type 2 it’s not acceptable.
I was initially really pleased to see the recent BBC drama The Syndicate had a character with Type 1 diabetes. However, I knew from watching the very first episode that Type 1 was not going to be portrayed correctly. I was on holiday when the last episode was shown – giving the impression you should treat somebody with low blood sugar with insulin. When I heard this, it sent a chill down my spine. The results of doing this could prove fatal. The thought that 5 million people have watched this and may one day be in a situation where someone with Type 1 is struggling with low blood sugar levels and they give them insulin fills me with horror.
I cannot believe the BBC could produce a television programme without doing even basic research. It is so damaging and I have found their response (see here) to the issue as dismissive.
I hope this doesn’t come across as a rant, that is not my intention. I just want to spread a little more awareness and therefore a little more understanding of an often misunderstood illness.
You can find out more about Type 1 diabetes at JDRFUK.
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Photo source: JDRFUK