Friday, November 8, 2013

Diabetes Awareness Month 2013

It’s National Diabetes month and the month that marks my 8th year living with Type 1 Diabetes! I cannot believe it has been 8 years of this, then again, I almost can’t remember not having diabetes anymore. This month is all about raising diabetes awareness, and The American Recall Center contacted me asking me to participate in awareness piece they wrote. With that said, I’d like to give you some insight about living with diabetes, let you know some diabetes myths, and some warning signs that you may could have diabetes.

I guess I should start with the warning signs of diabetes. I learned about these while taking a medical terminology class in college. In the medical field they call it the three P’s: Polyphagia, Polydipsia, and Polyuria. In English these words mean excessive hunger, thirst, and urination. When I was diagnosed I had all three of these. The excessive hunger and thirst didn’t trigger any thought or bother me really, besides my over eating of unhealthy food options I was losing weight and being 18 at the time didn’t see that as a bad thing (NOTE: Weight loss is another sign of diabetes). But I will never forget sitting in my general psychology class and having to excuse myself three or four times during the lecture to pee. It was the worst!

But oddly enough it wasn’t any of those things that got me to the doctor’s office. I think at the end of the day I was fortunate to have gotten a bladder infection. I don’t go to the doctor very often for little things. I probably wouldn’t have gone to the urgent care for a bladder infection, except the fact that I didn’t have time to wait for it to heal and needed something quick. Luckily, that bladder infection led to the doctor finding ketones (a chemical that is created when there isn’t enough insulin in the body and the body begins breaking down fat storage) in my urine, which led to the beginning of checking me for diabetes.

This is my 8th year of diabetes. In the beginning it felt like this disease of taking over everything I do. And in some ways it was. But once I got over my learning curve and everything began to become second nature it just started to feel normal. I have to count the carbs in everything I eat, always be prepared for something to go wrong, low blood sugars, pump malfunction, etc. It’s kind of like being a cub scout in some ways. Most people talk about how they wouldn’t know I had diabetes, except for the fact that I talk about it all the time, because well I am a little obsessed with it. Diabetes has never gotten in the way of things, sometimes it’s just tedious, but in most cases diabetes is in my control.

I have mentioned a few different hot buttons when it comes to diabetes, so lets talk about some of the diabetes myths that the rest of the world seems to link to all diabetics.

You can’t eat that you have diabetes. For Type 2 diabetics it has nothing to do with what you eat, but how much of it that you eat. I hate when I mention my diabetes to the teller at the grocery store and they begin looking at the items I’m purchasing. I hate it even more when they grab certain items and tell me I shouldn’t be eating them. Everything you eat is converted into sugar; so unless you would like me to starve, don’t judge me.

You’re too skinny to have diabetes. Being overweight can be a contributing factor to Type 2 diabetes, but it is not the only way to become diabetic. Age is a factor. As we get older our blood sugars naturally get higher. Genetics are another contributing factor. I have Type 2 on my moms side and Type 1 on my dad’s, I am not over weight by any means, and I am on an insulin pump.

You should eat sugar free food if you have diabetes. Don’t get me started on how much this one bugs me. I don’t look at the sugar an item of food has. In fact I dose for how many carbs an item of food has. Check the label next time you are at the grocery store on a sugar free item, it still has carbs!

You have to be on a special diet if you have diabetes. False. In all reality, the diet most diabetics should live by is the diet everyone should live by. Whole grain foods, lean proteins, vegetables, and fruit. So, please think about that before you begin to tell a diabetic what they should be eating.

There are a ton more myths if you look around; I chose to stick to the biggest stigmas. When you have diabetes, most people think it is all about paying attention to your food and food only. But let me tell you, your blood sugars change due to many other things, like during workouts, that time of the month, sick days, traveling, sleep, and the list can go on and on and on. Living with diabetes doesn’t make me much different from the person next to me. In the beginning it feels that way because there is a lot to learn about it. We hear all sorts of things about diabetes, but until you are living with it you won’t fully understand it. Happy Diabetes Awareness Month!



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