Diabetes Week - Type 1 Adult onset..
Know diabetes, fight diabetes.
Remember, remember the fifth of November will always and forever mean a whole different history in the Skilton household. It all started in November 2004, the fateful night when DadiSkilts (DS) was rushed to hospital. Do not pass go. No sparklers or bonfires for us. DS had been ill for a good chunk of the preceding year and thought he had discovered a brilliant new diet where you drank litres of water and lost loads of weight (although you had zero energy and slept most of your life away). I assured him, women across the world would have sussed that one millennia ago. I don’t know why, but I encouraged him to get a diabetes test as the local pharmacy were offering free ones at the time.
After copious nagging and most likely just to shut me up, he went; but unfortunately it appeared their test kit was faulty because it gave a stupidly high reading and it was suggested he should visit his GP for a more reliable test.
More nagging and an eventual Doctors visit on that fateful day once again showed a reading so stupidly high that the Dr thought his machine was also broken until DS commented that was exactly what the Pharmacist had said. Dr immediately called an ambulance and sent DS straight to hospital, do not pass go, do not stop to collect your belongings. I received a call from the surgery instructing me to pack a bag for him and meet him at the ward.
After several days in hospital to stabilise his blood numbers and a place in Diabetic history as having the highest numbers ever seen by the GP (36). My hubby returned home a Type 1, Adult onset, Diabetic and had to overcome his fear of needles PDQ.
For the remainder of that year and in fact well into the next DS struggled to cope with ‘Shooting-up’ (as he likes to say in public) 4 times a day and fought against accepting the radical changes he needed to make to his lifestyle. I could see depression creeping up on him like Stephen King’s ‘The Mist’.
Know the 4 Ts?
One in five cases of diabetes is diagnosed in the over 40s. It is important to know the signs and understand the symptoms as very often it will be assumed to be type 2 due to the patient's older age.
When children are diagnosed with type 1, there is often a built-in support system at diagnosis, including adult family members, an endocrinologist, a diabetes educator, a psychologist, and even summer camp to teach and motivate kids. But adults are often expected to figure out this new life of diabetes management on their own. We found this to be very much the case when DS was diagnosed. We were given a booklet and one group ‘training session’ for an afternoon.
He sees a diabetic nurse once every 6 months for a check up and has yearly eye screens as he has begun having diabetic retinopathy. A complication of the eye, where the blood vessels become damaged over time due to the high blood glucose levels.
Every day for type 1 diabetes, the trick is to control your blood glucose between a set of required levels. Type 1 diabetes occurs because your body doesn't produce any insulin. This means you need regular insulin injections to keep your glucose levels normal. So get used to carb counting and calculating from that the necessary dose of insulin factoring in any exercise you plan to do, how well you are at the time and what you have had to drink. You need to monitor you blood glucose using a special kit to prick the end of a finger and placing a drop of blood onto a special strip in a machine that calculates your blood sugar level.
If you get this wrong you risk Hypoglycaemia where your blood glucose levels become very low. Mild hypoglycaemia (a "hypo") can make you feel shaky, weak and hungry, but it can usually be controlled by eating or drinking something sugary. If you have a hypo, you should initially have a form of carbohydrate that will act quickly, such as a sugary drink or glucose tablets. This should be followed by a longer-acting carbohydrate, such as a cereal bar, sandwich or piece of fruit.
In most cases, these measures will be enough to raise your blood glucose level to normal, although it may take a few hours. If you develop severe hypoglycaemia, you may become drowsy and confused, and you may even lose consciousness. If this occurs, you may need to have an injection of glucagon into your muscle or glucose into a vein. Glucagon is a hormone that quickly increases your blood glucose levels.
The other extreme is Hyperglycaemia. This can occur when your blood glucose levels become too high. It can happen for several reasons, such as eating too much, being unwell or not taking enough insulin. If hyperglycaemia is left untreated, it can lead to a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis, where the body begins to break down fats for energy instead of glucose, resulting in a buildup of ketones (acids) in your blood. This can ultimately damage your internal organs, especially if you regularly allow your blood numbers to run high.
Living with Diabetes
It was hard coming to terms with DS diagnosis as it did mean long term health complications, a change in lifestyle and being completely dependent on synthetic drugs to keep you alive for the rest of time, but like everything in life we try to make the best of our situation. We have adjusted and in fact the lifestyle changes benefit everyone as it is simply adopting a healthier look at food and carbs, exercise and moderation of treats and alcohol. In order to keep his restricted driving license and to comply with car insurance regulations DS is required to test his numbers before every car journey (if driving) and every 2 hours after starting out. If he hypos then he not allowed to drive for a minimum of 45 minutes after the onset of symptoms. This has created a couple of obstacles, but again nothing a bit of communication and planning cannot overcome.
We have faced two big issues in his diabetic life.
- We went on a trip to Birmingham to visit family. When we arrived we realised we had forgotten to pack the insulin. We had to go to A&E wait for many, many hours while the medics confirmed he was in fact a genuine type 1 diabetic and then had to wait several more while they woke a pharmacist on call that could prescribe an emergency prescription. Lesson well and truly learned.
- We were lucky enough to go on holiday to Australia. DS need a letter from his doctor to be allowed to travel with sharps on a plane, that we had to declare to airport and airline security. All okay until we had a stopover in Hong Kong and DS was scarily detained when we declared ourselves to security again for many hours while they established what insulin was and whether we were terrorists. No joke. Kids crying that they would never see their dad again. True Story. Fortunately one that had a happy safe trip to Oz ending.
The reason I say DadiSkilts is Diabetic rather than ‘has diabetes’ is because it has changed his make-up. It can’t be cured; it is now part of who he is. Those that have type 2 diabetes are different though because it can generally be cured with very careful management of diet and/or tablets. I discuss this concept in an article I wrote about my youngest being Autistic rather than saying he has Autism.
Do you have any thoughts on this? Do you live with diabetes or know someone who does? Join the discussion. Comment below or on social media #mamiskilts #knowdiatetes #fightdiabetes