American Diabetes Association Alert Day

March 23, 2021 – Kayla Thompson, Adult Services Coordinator

*Author’s note: I am in no way a doctor; I am simply someone who has lived with this disease for many years. This is a blog post meant to inform, it is in no way medical advice in any form or fashion. If you have any questions or concerns about having this disease, then please consult your doctor or physician. 

Hello, fellow lovers of the library! Did you know that every year on the fourth Tuesday of March, “American Diabetes Association Alert Day” is observed? Neither did I, and I have been living with Type 1 Diabetes since my brother was diagnosed at 3 (he is now almost 21) and I was diagnosed at 11 years old (I am now almost 26). Juvenile diabetes is what they used to call it, though I think they have since dropped the “juvenile” part due to recent discoveries. 

This year, the observed day falls on Tuesday, March 23rd, and serves to bring awareness to the disease and teach the public more about it and how it is treated. For those of you who do not know, there are typically two types of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes, which is what my younger brother and I both have, is unpreventable though it is treatable. As a kid, my doctors used to tell me that the reason my pancreas stopped working the right way is because my mom and dad both happened to have genes that came together and created my disease. It took a little bit of time for my condition to show up, but it can show up at any time during a person’s life. When the genes are activated, the pancreas stops producing the insulin enzyme which triggers the need for constant insulin injections, blood sugar monitoring, and healthy eating habits and exercise. The management isn’t always perfect and depending on a person’s environment, activity, food, and injection amounts, blood sugars can fluctuate from normal to low to high.

Type 2 diabetes is a little different. My father ended up developing this type of diabetes later in life and had nothing to do with the gene that was passed onto my brother and me. Though usually more preventable, this type of diabetes is not preventable in everyone who develops it. Making healthier life choices in terms of diet and exercise can help prevent it and can even help turn it around, but that is not always the case. There are different kinds of medications and treatment methods that a doctor might recommend to help with this type of the disease. 

There is also the case of gestational diabetes that can occur sometimes in women who are pregnant. It may not happen every pregnancy and it doesn’t happen to everyone (roughly 2-10% of all pregnancies according to the CDC), but it is usually very manageable and goes away sometime after the baby is born. 

It’s important to keep good management and regulation on blood sugars though because they can lead to other health risks. High blood sugars can cause headaches and immense thirst. These kinds of blood sugars can affect eyesight and kidney function if numbers are left out of control. Just because you might be diagnosed with diabetes, though, doesn’t mean you have to live in fear of it. Doctors and nurses are much more knowledgeable about this disease and the access to resources tends to be much better than it used to be (though insulin prices still tend to be an issue…but that is a complaint for another day). The key is regulation and listening to your body and knowing when something is off. The American Diabetes Association created this day of awareness in 1986 in order to help teach and inform the public on the risks and symptoms of this disease. So now that you know a little about it, go out, do some research, talk to your doctor if you have concerns, and above all listen to your body when it tells you something isn’t right. 

Books:

Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston (This book was made into the movie 127 Hours; one of the brothers has diabetes)
The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton (Though not the main character, one of the supporting characters has diabetes.)
Under the Dome by Stephen King (Though the main character doesn’t have diabetes, a supporting character named Samantha Mathis does.)
Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling (This was originally a play. The print version is located in our nonfiction section and the movie with Julia Roberts is located in our entertainment DVDs.)
The Kill Club by Wendy Heard
Diabetes and Heart Healthy Cookbook by American Diabetes Association
Whole Cooking and Nutrition by Katie Cavuto
Agnes at the End of the World by Kelly McWilliams (Coming soon to our Teen collection)
The Truth According to Blue by Eve Yohalem
Cooking Up Fun for Kids with Diabetes by Patty Bazel Geil

 

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