With the Mike’s Bike Shop Cyclebetes 200 ride to cure Type 1 Diabetes just around the corner and lots of new faces beginning to sign up and fundraise, I feel the need to tell our story. If your life has also been touched by Type 1 Diabetes, I’m sure you can relate since your story is surely similar to ours…
In the fall of 2002, Adele started showing signs that something wasn’t quite right. At such a young age, she couldn’t tell us how she was feeling, but her unquenchable thirst and frequent high volume urination could no longer be ignored. On Halloween night we got the diagnosis – Type 1 or Juvenile Diabetes, an unpreventable, chronic disease caused by a malfunctioning immune system that mistakenly destroys the body’s ability to produce a hormone called insulin as well as the body’s ability to manage blood glucose concentration in the bloodstream.
The doctor explained to us that the treatment is lifelong insulin therapy without which Adele would die. All Type 1’s must inject or infuse insulin to stay alive. Insulin cannot be administered orally. Type 1 or Juvenile Diabetes cannot be reversed or cured. Insulin is not a cure. It simply prevents extreme hyperglycemia and ketoacidosis which eventually causes death in a matter of days. Insulin does not prevent long term complications.
For at least the first year, it took at least 2 adults to give Adele her injections, one to hold her still while she kicked, cried and screamed and the other to administer the injection. At the time of diagnosis, we couldn’t leave the hospital before both my wife and I were comfortable giving the injections. It took almost an entire week to be able to find the courage to shove that needle into our baby, but in the end we just wanted to go home. I think each injection hurt us more than it did Adele.
We’ve come a long way since that day in 2002, but we’re still a long way from how it was before the diagnosis. Adele needs to constantly monitor her blood sugar levels. And by constantly, I mean pretty much hourly every single day including her birthday, Christmas… and even through the night. The thing is that almost everything affects blood sugar including stress, fatigue, excitement, a virus, exercise…etc… It’s not just food intake, it’s also pretty much everything else as well. A non-diabetic’s body is constantly making tiny adjustments to maintain blood sugar between normal levels. For a Type 1 diabetic, these adjustments need to be made manually by the diabetic or the caregiver. All this work and you can still never keep blood glucose values in the normal range at ALL times. It’s just not humanly possible.