Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Thank you Dr. Banting, but we ain't done yet...

Dr. Frederick Banting and Charles Best discovered insulin in Canada in 1922. Prior to this discovery, a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis meant slipping into a diabetic coma and a certain death.

The discovery of insulin meant that victims of Type 1 would no longer die from the disease. Or should I say die from the disease right away. For a non-diabetic, blood sugar continuously varies throughout the day between 4 and 8 mmol/L. For someone playing the Type 1 game, the goal is to try to come as close as possible to this. But like with any other game, it is impossible to win all of the time. The longer the unbeaten streak, the more difficult it is to keep it going. As humans, eventually we make mistakes and the winning streak is over. In this sense, the Type 1 game is no different than all the other games that we play, but the stakes are higher. Each and every time that the Type 1 diabetic’s blood sugars drops below 4 (hypoglycemia), he/she is in immediate danger. All cells in our body need a constant supply of sugar and will eventually shut down and die if they are starved which is what is happening during a hypoglycemic episode. Each and every time that the Type 1 diabetic’s blood sugar rises above 8 (hyperglycemia), the extra sugar makes the blood toxic causing damage to the body's organs.

Talk to anyone living with Type 1 and they will tell you that hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia are pretty much a daily part of the very complex Type 1 game. This is the reality which is Type 1 gaming and why insulin is not a cure.

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