A few years ago, Norm (my six-year-old brown and black tabby) developed severe allergies that resulted in excessive biting and licking of his skin. We put him on a series of steroid treatments to relieve the itch and help the wounds heal until his allergy shots have a chance to kick in (which could take 12-18 months).
The only downside to so much steroid exposure? It increases his risk of developing diabetes. When I learned this vital information, I looked down at Norm and said, “Sorry, bud. We can only have one diabetic in this family.”
Fortunately, Norm has not developed diabetes. But that doesn’t mean the rest of my family has been so lucky. In the nine years I’ve had Type 1, I’ve watched friends and family endure the trials that come with gestational diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.
For a quick refresher:
Pregnant women who have never had diabetes before but who have high blood glucose (sugar) levels during pregnancy are said to have gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes starts when your body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. Without enough insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and be changed to energy. Glucose builds up in the blood to high levels.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. If you have type 2 diabetes your body does not use insulin properly. This is called insulin resistance. At first, your pancreas makes extra insulin to make up for it. But, over time it isn’t able to keep up and can’t make enough insulin to keep your blood glucose at normal levels.
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease that occurs when a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, the hormone that controls blood-sugar levels. T1D develops when the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells are mistakenly destroyed by the body’s immune system. There is nothing anyone can do to prevent T1D. Presently, there is no known cure.
A few weeks ago, I received a missed call from one such family member. I was with a friend, so I texted him to see if it was urgent. He responded with this:
Blood sugar over 600.
I immediately called him back and urged him to go to the hospital. Now, this particular family member is not a fan of visiting the doctor, and as I later learned from his wife, she had been urging him to see the doctor since his symptoms appeared four weeks prior. Knowing the dangers of diabetic ketoacidosis, I was aghast.
But I used to be the same way. I showed signs of Type 1 diabetes for at least three months before I was diagnosed. I ended up at the medical clinic for an entirely different reason than my diabetes symptoms. I was lucky. And now I know to take all signs seriously. So, after a lot of cajoling, he finally made it to the hospital. But his humor persisted. En route, he texted me this:
Hey. I don’t have to worry about running out of simple syrup for my mint Julep’s. I just go to the restroom and make more.
[Most of my family resides in Louisville, Kentucky, home of the Kentucky Derby and the Mint Julep.] Of course, I couldn’t resist adding to his humor, so I responded:
Hmm not sure anyone else would want to join in that batch.
I later sent him a bunch of gifs of Donkey from Shrek (if anyone exerts positivity in the face of maltreatment, it’s Donkey).
Tomorrow morning we’re having waffles. Covered in butter and rich syrup from Mrs. Butterworth’s.
After coming to terms with Type 2 diabetes, he spent the next two weeks getting his blood sugar down to somewhat normal levels. And anytime he didn’t want to adhere to his new blood sugar checking and insulin injection regimen, his wife would threaten to call me for a reality check.
I certainly don’t like talking about the doom and gloom of diabetes, but when it comes to my loved ones and their health, I don’t mind playing the role of the Grim Reaper. I’d much rather get texts from him that read: Hungry for a delicious bowl of alfalfa sprouts.
But in the face of certain challenging lifestyle changes, we all need a good laugh. Learning that even small indulgences like barbeque is full of sugar can take its toll. A few days after his hospital visit, he sent me this:
Told my boss if I start talking out of my head, to throw me in the server room until it starts stinking from decomp. He has Type 1 and said he won’t let me die.
Thank you, Type 1’s.
This post is part of my #LOLT1D series.