For Those Affected by Diabetes in Any Form-
I have diabetes. I have had diabetes since I was four years old. I have lived with taking shots and feeling inferior my entire life. For me diabetes defined me. There was no world in which diabetes didn't control every aspect of what I did or wanted to do.
In my childhood, other kids picked on me, they tormented me actually, they were cruel and vindictive in the cruelest ways possible. I had very few friends and as time went on it became harder for me to believe in myself.
I was just five years old when I started school and because they always picked on me in ways that were about my diabetes it felt to me that diabetes made me weird. In 1979, no one else had diabetes. I was the only kid in my entire school that had this awful disease. Other kids didn't see it as awful though, they didn't see me getting the shots or going to the doctor all the time. They didn't hear everyday the ways in which diabetes would one day destroy me. No, what they saw was a little girl, eating snacks at 10 am, taking extra long for lunch because I had to eat so much, they say a kid that went to the nurse's office a few times a month and was allowed extra bathroom breaks without question.
It wasn't until I was 13 years old that I realized there were other diabetics out there. I went away to diabetes camp and my world changed. I found other kids that were like me and understood what it was like to have diabetes. These other kids though didn't have the same issues I did, some of them were more accepted at their schools, they had friends and a better understanding of the disease, it wasn't destructive to their self confidence or mental outlook. I truly believe these friends saved me during my teen years. They prevented me from drowning in a pit of self destruction and fury.
As I grew older, the years of having diabetes took their tool. I've since had two heart attacks, I suffer from eye problems, nerve disorders and a host of 'complications' that I just couldn't avoid. Diabetes attacks nearly every organ in the body, it attacks joints causing painful issues like frozen shoulder and carpal tunnel syndrome. It attacks the memory, causing defects in cognitive functions, there is also a higher instance of Alzheimer's among diabetic patients. It can destroy the heart and kidney's leading to death. It's the number one cause of blindness in adults.
Right now there is no cure for Type 1, Juvenile Diabetes. From the onset of Type 1, you must take insulin to survive. There is no other way to live. You must also follow a diet, exercise regularly, check your glucose multiple times per day, visit a diabetic specialist several times a year, get routine blood tests and limit your alcohol intake, don't smoke and pay attention to every thing you ingest, including over the counter medications and supplements. It's a never ending battle to manage your daily glucose values and even this dedication may not prevent complications. It will definitely help you live longer and with a better quality of life BUT diabetes kills, slowly, one body part after another, it wipes you out.
The only hope right now is in research. New technology has made an Islet Cell Transplant possible. Islet cells are the cells that produce insulin, the hormone you need to control blood sugar levels in the body. Without insulin, your body would be in a constant state of HIGH blood sugar, it is this high blood sugar that causes the most damage long term. The Islet Cell Transplant can replace the cells that diabetes killed when it was attacking the body. An autoimmune disorder, diabetes attacks the healthy islet cells and kills them, thus resulting in a body that no longer produce the needed insulin. With the Islet Cell Transplant, a diabetic can produce his own insulin again and hopefully live many years without the need for synthetic insulin.
The Islet Cell Transplant is relatively new and expensive. Right now the only hope of getting a transplant is through human trials being offered at research hospitals in larger cities. Insurance will cover some costs but there are other expenses involved in the transplant and for a diabetic wishing to get this transplant, a lot of planning and saving is required.
Diabetes is devastating. It destroys the body and eventually the mind. It reeks havoc on a diabetics emotional state because you are always constantly wondering what the next complication will be, you are always wondering what are you doing wrong that your blood sugars won't come down. It's a constant battle to feel normal...
Each diabetic deals with the disease in their own way but a constant tie always binds us. No matter how far away we are, as a diabetic, we know how it feels to live day in and day out with the disease. We are always trying to boost each other up and be strong for our fellow diabetics even when we may not feel strong ourselves! We will always be connected by mutual desire to be free of the disease and I believe that every diabetic would have the Islet Cell Transplant if they could.
A long time friend of my family's has been approved to receive the transplant. Brian has had diabetes since he was 13 years old and he too suffers from complications. I write today in the hopes that he can raise the necessary funds to follow through with his transplant and that his contribution to diabetic research will pave the way for ALL of us to one day receive this breakthrough transplant.
Take the time to read about his journey and give him a fighting chance.
Good Luck to you Brian! We all love you and wish you only the best. http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/brian-s-transplant-journey/81246