Dear Grandkid, Don’t Get Diabetes — Continued

The Condemned Princess

We were talking about diabetes and what a stone cold bummer it is when somebody has it. Okay, so I sound like a grandma — what would you say? I think you know what a stone bummer means, in grandma-land. If you want to school me about modern words, go ahead, and I’ll say it right, the next time I tell you about anything sad.

Okay, Type 1 diabetes is the kind where your own body doesn’t make the insulin it needs. Sometimes people are born with Type 1, and scientists aren’t sure why that happens. Lately, more people are getting it as they grow up, and scientists aren’t quite sure why that happens, either. But this kind doesn’t have anything to do with whether a person is fat, skinny, or in-between.

Type 1 is what they call an autoimmune disease, which means some things inside your body make a mistake and act is if other things inside your body are enemies that are invading. So, while you’re trying go about your business and live your life, all these different chemicals are battling it out, attacking each other and having a war that can mess you up in about 99 different ways. It’s kind of like being allergic to your own self.

And then there’s Type 2 diabetes. It seems to go with being fat, and, to tell you the truth, scientists aren’t totally up to date on everything about Type 2, either. For instance, they can’t tell you why some overweight people never get diabetes. But they are sure about a couple of things. One — being obese makes more of a chance that someone will get diabetes. And two — a person doesn’t have to be obese. It’s preventable.

Oh wait, there is another thing they are sure of. Mostly, people didn’t used to get Type 2 until they were middle-aged. It seems like in the old days, it took a lot of years for their bad habits to catch up with them. But now, people are starting to have Type 2 when they are younger, even in their 20s. That is scary.

For either kind of diabetes, if the person can’t get the right kind of medical help, or if they’re sloppy about taking care of themselves, it can really get ugly. I was telling you about my friend the musician, who was born with Type 1. Having it is such a stone bummer (or whatever!) that sometimes he just got totally fed up with having to always “manage” his condition and do all the things he was supposed to do.

I remember when he went through a real bad time with a horrible thing called neuropathy in his feet. He said it hurt to wear any kind of shoes, and when he tried to go to sleep, it even hurt to have a thin sheet touching his feet. At various times, it felt like charley-horses in the muscles, or like pins sticking into his feet. Sometimes they would swell up. Sometimes it felt like feet roasting over a roaring campfire. Plus, he couldn’t drive and couldn’t even walk, and had to lay around with his feet up for days and days. He couldn’t do that and be a professional drummer at the same time.

What happens is, when too much sugar is in the blood, it messes up these little tiny blood vessels called capillaries, and that messes up the nerves that are supposed to be fed by the capillaries. Oh, and I forgot to mention, sharp pains like a taser. Anyway, this neuropathy thing hurts like hell. But even so, the person might look back and miss that pain, if it ever gets bad enough so their feet just go numb. That road sign means they made a turn onto the highway to Big Trouble.

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “What Is The Difference Between Diabetes 1 And Diabetes 2?,” Medical News Today, 05/15/09
Image by Mick Amato.

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