People do not understand the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes, but they REALLY do not understand your unique situation. You are a Type One Pancreas currently being treated as a Type Two Pancreas. Let me try and break this down a little.
Type Two: managed and controlled by weight, diet and exercise and they may or may not be on insulin. Type Two diabetics are RESISTANT to insulin, but typically still produce it. But guess what? That still does not mean that it is 100% within the control of the person who owns that pancreas. Still not okay to make judgments or give unsolicited advice to people with Type Two. Period.
Type One: AUTO-IMMUNE disorder in which auto-antibodies are present in the person with Type One that are NOT present in someone without Type One. The auto-antibodies attack the beta cells of the pancreas, essentially killing it off. It remains useless in the body, just floating around hoping for a cure to bring it back to life. Once this attack occurs, and it is not known what triggers this attack (a virus seems to be the most supported theory), there is no stopping it. THERE IS NO DIET, EXERCISE OR WEIGHT MANAGEMENT PLAN THAT WILL HELP. It is what it is. Dead pancreas = no more insulin. Healthy pancreases release insulin that controls the amount of glucose in our blood. The person with Type One is NOT CAPABLE of producing insulin, NO MATTER WHAT. They will need to take shots of insulin through shots or a pump to survive. Without insulin, glucose will build up in the bloodstream until it eventually kills the person. INSULIN = LIFE.
RYAN’S PANCREAS: We were lucky enough to have an amazing pediatrician that spotted a random rise in blood sugar (356) one year ago. He had actually sent us home before he even read those results because Ryan was in PERFECT shape otherwise. WEIGHT included. He sent us off to Children’s where we found that Ryan was still producing insulin because he was able to bring that number down on his own. Tests, tests and more tests determined that Ryan’s little body contains those horrid auto-antibodies I spoke of earlier. We began testing every day, waiting for those antibodies to full on attack and kill off his pancreas. We will know when it happened because his blood sugar will begin to consistently rise.
In the meantime, we keep him healthy with a meal plan that makes Ryan seem more like a Type Two. We keep Ryan on the plan they recommend for a type one patient. It is not a special, you can only eat this because you are diabetic diet. IT IS WHAT IS HEALTHY AND RECOMMENDED FOR EVERY CHILD. Doesn’t every parent want their child to be healthy? Technically, we could feed him whatever he wants, whenever he wants. But why? We figure, it is the healthiest thing for him and one less thing to adjust to when he begins insulin. Yes, certain foods raise blood sugar at different rates and there are certain foods that we just avoid at certain times of the day. We like to think of it as we are trying to not “overload” his already struggling pancreas.
And he exercises. The kid plays football, hockey, wrestling, runs and will soon start lacrosse. The kid BUSTS his ass. We do these things because they keep him as healthy as we possibly can. We would be doing these things even without his diagnosis.
Unfortunately, it seems as if we are “keeping him off insulin” or “his diabetes is controlled” or ” his diabetes is not that severe”. Well intentioned, loving people commend us. We appreciate it, we really do. We feel like we are doing a great job.
But the reality is that a type one is a type one is a type one. They are all the same. There is no diet, exercise or weight management plan that will stop it, control it or cure it. Ryan is a Type One that is simply waiting for his pancreas to die.
We worry, maybe unnecessarily, that people will blame or judge us when his pancreas stops working. And if they do, we will get over it. They just better keep it to themselves. We know there is nothing that we can do; we just hope the rest of world will take the time to understand.