To the Dayton region, I appear to be a grizzly bear on the outside. A rough and tough man that grows a 1/8-inch beard in the span of three weeks, coupled with the ability to, whenever there is a problem in the house, EASILY Google a plumber or carpenter to fix it. But let’s take a deeper look. On the inside I am a teddy bear. A teddy bear that is extremely afraid of needles. Can’t do ’em. Hate ’em. Tearing up right now thinking about ’em.
I have given blood, on my own accord, twice in my life, and each time I wanted to cry from the panic attacks I was having. It was not the pain of the needle, it’s just the overall feeling. I have goosebumps simply thinking about that right now. I told this fear to a good friend of mine, Samantha Redden – Dayton Development Coordinator for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), and her face began to grin ear-to-ear just like the Grinch did. Before you start casting stones at Sam yelling “LEAVE CORY ALONE” (said with a Chris Crocker voice… Google it) let me pause here. Sam has Type 1 Diabetes (T1D).
So why the smile? Well, Sam uses a needle to stick her finger and check her blood sugar anywhere between 7-8 times on a daily basis. She doesn’t do this for fun — she does this to gain information on how to better combat her constant battle with T1D.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is the name given to disorders in which the body has trouble regulating its blood-glucose, or blood-sugar, levels. There are two major types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2.
T1D & T2D: What’s the difference?
T1D is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. T1D usually strikes in childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood, and lasts a lifetime. Just to survive, people with T1D must take multiple injections of insulin daily or continually infuse insulin through a pump.
T2D is a metabolic disorder in which a person’s body still produces insulin but is unable to use it effectively. T2D is usually diagnosed in adulthood and does not always require insulin injections. However, increased obesity has led to a recent rise in cases of T2D in children and young adults.
Taking insulin does not cure any type of diabetes, nor does it prevent the possibility of the disease’s devastating effects: kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, heart attack, stroke, and pregnancy complications.
I asked Sam why it is so important to donate funds towards the JDRF cause.
“Diabetes is damaging to the body and extreme lows and extreme highs can cause death,” Redden said. “The diabetes epidemic is on the rise and we need a cure.”
T1D is a daily routine that can have a vice grip on your life. Many attack this lifelong battle alone, while others join groups and organizations much like JDRF’s Southwest Ohio chapter called the JDRF Dayton Action Council.
When diabetes is a part of your life, you are witness to many intense moments. One moment all is well, and the next your blood sugar could be through the roof or the lowest of lows. I asked another friend of mine, Sasha Squibb, how T1D has shaped her life.
“I hesitate to say that T1D defines who I am, but it is very much part of my identity,” Squibb said. “I was diagnosed at two, so I truly don’t know what living life without T1D would look like. This disease is rough. Every day there is a new challenge and it wears hard on your body, but it has taught me responsibility and perseverance on a whole new level. I want a cure so freaking bad, but so many beautiful things in my life have come from having T1D. T1D is a disease that takes all the endurance in the world, but has no end in sight.”
Why am I talking about Diabetes?
Do you remember the Google Doodle that was up on Monday, Nov. 14? November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and specifically November 14 was World Diabetes Day. Why is it that day? Well, in 1922, two men by the name of Frederick Banting and Charles Best discovered insulin. The day has officially been recognized by the United Nations.
Quick Facts1 & 2
- 26 million Americans have Diabetes
- 8 million are diagnosed
- 7 million are undiagnosed
- 371 million people worldwide are currently affected by diabetes with 181 million expected to be added by 2030
- Diabetes costs $174 BILLION annually, including $116 BILLION in direct medical expenses
- Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in working-age adults
- Blue is the color of Diabetes support
- Urinating Often
- Feeling Thirsty
- Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating
- Extreme Fatigue
- Blurry Vision
- Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
- Weight loss – even though you are eating more (Type 1)
- Tingling, pain, or numbness in hands/feet (Type 2)
If you experience any of these please see your doctor as soon as you can. Early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the risk of developing the complications of diabetes.
I have listed just two of my friends who have T1D. If you or a loved one would like more information about the JDRF Southwest Ohio Chapter, please feel free to contact Samantha Redden at firstname.lastname@example.org or “like” the JDRF Southwest Ohio – Facebook Page to learn about meetings