I’ve been thinking of writing about this for a while, but explaining the difference between Type 2 Adult-onset Diabetes (caused by diet and lifestyle) and Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes (an autoimmune disease that was 100% fatal until only very recently in human history) succinctly and effectively was something I didn’t quite know how to tackle. Then I saw this video, and knew I had found my springboard; it was time. Many years ago I was like most people, not knowing there were two types or the differences between them. Let me help inform the rest of you as one Type 1 lady kindly and patiently did me. Watch the video, then read our story.
I call living with Type 1 Diabetes “living on the knife-edge of eternity.”
Our own son Josiah was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes shortly after turning 4. Until only fairly recently, at 2 am every night I checked his blood sugar…and to make sure he was still breathing… Sleeping through the night is not a luxury parents of juvenile diabetics can expect for a long time, even with an insulin pump.
Two years later I learned of a 31-year long study in Finland that gave 12,000 pregnant mothers Vitamin D, then gave it to the babies for a year, then followed them until they were 30 (10,000 still in the study). They found an 80%(!) reduction in the incidence of Juvenile Diabetes. Share this! Vitamin D is no guarantee of prevention but a VERY important piece of the puzzle. I wished the study had been completed years before, but there’s no benefit in living in the realm of “if only,” but there is benefit in sharing what we have learned. Although Vitamin D won’t cure Type 1, we haven’t called 911 for difficulty breathing since he began taking it (at least 5 years ago), and he doesn’t get sick as often. [To watch an entertaining and informative video by a doctor explaining why we need vitamin D, go to http://www.uvadvantage.org/portals/0/pres/%5D
Josiah eats very well and diligently limits and counts carbohydrates, and exercises as if it could make a difference, but can really only hope to keep as healthy as possible and prevent diabetes-related ailments (diabetic neuropathy, blindness, brain problems and more).
He has little patience with Type 2 diabetics, and when he was about 9 I heard him firmly tell one whining adult Type 2 diabetic that at least they can, if they will, do something (like change their diet, exercise, take certain supplements, etc.) that can prevent or even reverse their condition, unlike him. Out of the mouths of babes… I regularly remind myself that I owe it to him to not become one of them by exercising my prerogative of prevention.
I take each day as it comes, living with prudence and care but not in anxiety (although the possibility naturally hovers on the fringes) and do my best to teach this to him. Early on we explained that this is a broken world and no one gets out of it well and alive, and if you live long enough eventually everyone gets something, he just got his early, which gave him an early appreciation of the value of life.
I’ve seen various responses to Type 1 Diabetes: anger, denial, paralyzing fear and realistic acceptance, and getting stuck in the unhealthy responses can cause people to manage it carelessly or poorly. Happily, Josiah is learning healthy acceptance; he’s a cautious, serious and thoughtful young man (now 15) who struggles against his anxieties and fears, more successfully as he matures, but also tries to maintain a sense of humor at the same time. He’s taking on the challenge of keeping himself alive and still leading a meaningful life and doing an excellent job.
As he tries to plan his future he has an underlying acute awareness of life’s brevity and the many situations that could affect him. This knowledge has led him to become a completely “sold out” Christian and has in turn become very concerned about the eternal destiny of others, and lovingly speaks to them whenever he has the opportunity.
He used to say he wishes he had cancer, because at least he could have a realistic chance for a cure. Every day he prays for a cure.
So if you see a fundraiser by the JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), please give, for he is one of the innocent victims.