Thursday, October 3, 2013

TBT: T1D vs. T2D {or why Jared can't just take a pill}

{Blood sugar testing--one of only two ways in which Type I diabetes is like Type II diabetes}

I need to share more of what I have learned as a mom of a Type I diabetic. Don't get me wrong, I don't consider myself an expert by any means, but I have learned some things after 11+ years of living with it that someone might find beneficial. If I had found a blog by another diabetes mom when Jared was first diagnosed, I'd have read that blog every day!

One question I've been asked many, many times is why Jared can't just take a pill? Another question I've been asked a lot is whether he's going to grow out of it? I realize that these questions come from people being much more aware of Type II diabetes than they are about Type I.

There are basically two ways in which Type I and Type II are similar:

1. They both affect blood sugar.
2. Blood glucose meters (like the one pictured above) are needed by both types.

That's about it. Type 1 is generally contracted by younger people, hence the former name "Juvenile Diabetes." Type II is generally found in older people, although you have probably seen stories in the news lately about more overweight children being diagnosed with Type II. Type II is caused by the fact that the body's cells are unable to use the insulin that the body is making to lower the blood sugar.

Type I is very different, because it is an autoimmune disorder. The body of a Type I diabetic does not make insulin--the body's immune system has destroyed the cells in the pancreas that used to produce insulin. This means that insulin must be injected into the body to control blood glucose (blood sugar) levels. It also means that Jared won't grow out of it, because the body can't remake those insulin-producing cells. (Oh, how we wish it could!) Insulin cannot be given in a pill form because the stomach acid would break it down and destroy it before it could be used. Bottom line: without insulin, a Type I diabetic will go into diabetic coma and die. (See this post about our last scary experience with lack of insulin).

Type II diabetics CAN take pills to control blood sugar. This is a drug that helps the body's cells to use the insulin that is already present. Once in awhile, a Type II diabetic whose blood sugar is not controlled well with a pill will be prescribed insulin shots, just to increase the amount of insulin available, but their life does not depend on it like a Type I diabetic does.

There you have it in a nutshell. Anything else you want to know, such as how did/do we handle Easter, Halloween, and other "sugar rich" holidays with a diabetic? Let me know and I'll post about it.

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