So many people think that Diabetes is Diabetes, that everyone who has Diabetes has the same kind and it is caused by the same thing and can be treated in the same way…well today I’m going to tell you that is wrong. I’m going to explain what Type 1 Diabetes is in the most understandable way that I can, a little bit of a story for you. So lets give it a go, I’ve no idea which order to tell things in so if I say them in an order that to you doesn’t make sense I apologize.
Lets start with what a non-diabetics body does.
When you eat food with glucose in it (that’s sugar that comes in many different forms but the form that I count it in is called carbohydrate) the glucose is absorbed into your bloodstream. Now here comes the fancy part. In order for your body to use the glucose for energy it needs to get into your cells (where is is transformed into a form of energy that your body can use). Glucose cannot just float in and out of your cells it needs the equivalent of a hall pass, something which can accompany it through the walls of the cell and inside. This thing in your body is insulin and is produced in your pancreas by your beta cells.
So to wrap that one up, when you eat glucose it gets absorbed into your blood stream, then your pancreas produces insulin which accompanies the glucose into your cells. The glucose is then transformed into energy that your body can use for daily functioning, things like running around, thinking, walking, getting out of bed, pretty much everything that you do needs energy and you get this from the process above.
In a type 1 diabetics body this doesn’t happen. Our beta cells don’t produce insulin and therefore the glucose in our blood cannot get into our cells and be transformed into energy. Instead it builds up in our cells and turns into something called ketones, if the ketones aren’t dealt with or build up too much they become toxic to our bodies and we can die.
Here is why my body now doesn’t produce insulin.
One day there was a civil war inside my body, my immune system decided that my beta cells in my pancreas were bad and so they attacked them. No one knows what caused my immune system to think that my beta cells were bad, it’s just something that happened and it can happen to anyone at any time, although it is most common in your younger or adult years.
Over a period of time my immune system kept attacking my beta cells, now my body does not produce any insulin on its own. So the glucose that I eat cannot get into my cells and cannot be transformed into energy for me to use. There is only one thing that can be done to get insulin into my body and that is to inject it. The insulin that I inject is made in a laboratory (years and years ago it was made from pig beta cells!) but it has the same molecularity as the insulin that a non-diabetic produces and does the same job only in gets there in a different way.
It’s a pretty short explanation I know but it’s how I explain it to people and generally they seem to understand. I’ll post later on what exactly I have to do to use insulin (it’s not as straight forward as just injecting it) but I think maybe this will be enough to try wrap your head around in one reading 😉 If you have any questions about any of this or want more information I’m more than happy to try and help just comment below 🙂
Hopefully now you understand what type 1 diabetes is, it is not caused by eating too much, eating the wrong foods, not doing enough exercise, being over-weight, how you were raised, or where you live, it is just a freak event that happens inside you one day for no reason, it happens to some people and not to others, it is unfair, there is no explanation or cure, but it is not contagious and we can live reasonably normally lives (well most of the time anyway 😉 ).
Last but not least, this is what I look like as a type 1 diabetic, I have an identity, style and life that is unique to me just like all of you whether you are type 1 or not. Really when it comes down to it, I’m just another person 🙂 only I have a faulty organ in there somewhere haha.