Friday, 30 December 2011

It must be great to have diabetes

I'm type 1 diabetic, which means that my pancreas doesn't produce insulin; this is the hormone that allows cells to convert sugar in the blood into energy. The main factors in blood sugar levels are carbohydrate intake, exercise levels and, for type 1 diabetics, insulin intake. The image below tries to show how these work together, but please see my next post, "Drawing ability. Lack of"
As my pancreas doesn't produce any, I inject synthetic insulin 4 times a day. If not, my blood sugar levels would get steadily higher and eventually my blood would poison itself with ketoacidosis. Sometimes I get the amount slightly wrong; "a unit" of insulin is one hundredth of a millilitre, and it's not always easy to gauge the amount of carbohydrate in a meal - if it needs 8 units and I inject 9, I will go into a state of hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) - symptoms include shaking, sweating, interrupted vision, in extreme circumstances a coma.
The easiest way to yank the body out of hypoglycaemia is to fuel it with simple carbohydrates; my medicine of choice is Bassett's Jelly Babies, but anything with a high proportion of sugar works well.
When I'm hypoglycaemic and am eating simple carbohydrates, it's not unusual for me to hear people say something along the lines of "It must be great to have diabetes, eating all those sweets". Really? I have been thinking about this, having had a couple of hypo moments over Christmas.
"No need for contraception, it must be great to have chlamydia"
"I wish I had the nerve to shave my hair off, it must be great to have alopecia"
"It must be great to be able to collect your waste in a bag and not need to visit the toilet, I wish I needed a proctocolectomy"
etc

Thursday, 8 December 2011