Nation’s Most Wanted: Diabetes moving up on list of America’s top killers

I stir from my deep slumber as the acute amount of light protrudes into my room from outside. I poke my finger and blotch the deep crimson red blood onto the miniscule strip. I walk over to the cabinet filled with sugar foods and drinks in my room and snap the tab on a mini-Sunkist and down the whole cylinder into my gut. I snap another tab and down another can. I sulk back into my bed, and shortly after I collapse into another sleep only to be awakened and begin a day of more ups and downs.

This is a normal morning in the life of a type one diabetic. Unfortunately, discrepancies like this occur almost daily. The constant battle of equilibrium throughout the body is a lost war. Not many people are aware of the attrition conflict that is churning like a Caribbean hurricane inside the body.

First off, I’d like to get one thing straight. Type one and type two diabetes are different diseases. Type one is a genetic disability, and type two (or onset diabetes) is brought on due to lack of balance between fat, glucose and insulin in the body.

My biggest pet peeve is not knowing the difference. I understand that the knowledge of diabetes is on the back burner, and, unfortunately it is likely no one will understand the dedication to keeping ourselves alive we have to burn through.

Type one diabetes can occur at any age, old or young. It is started when your pancreases beta cells get attacked and acidicly mutilated by white blood cells and t-cells in your body.

The beta cells are cells that produce insulin, a hormone needed to survive. The insulin controls the level of glucose in your blood stream. This is a constant fight for equilibrium that is easily maintained. Non-diabetics glucose levels stay within the 100-150 range, which is nearly perfect on the scale.

I would compare the functions of your pancreas to that of driving stick. Automatic shifts you don’t have to worry about. You put in park, drive and reverse whilst trying to complete an easy job of not dropping the transmission from the car.

But driving stick is a whole other situation. You have to pop the clutch often (checking and managing blood sugar) and multitask on both the road in front of you and situation at your feet. It’s a skill that is quite never mastered, and if not adhered to properly can lead to devastating losses.

Things on the type one side, however, do not seem so bleak. With new advancements made every day, it is becoming easier and easier to maintain a healthy A1C. I, along with many other diabetics, wear a CGM or continuous glucose monitor.

It does exactly what it sounds like and constantly measures blood glucose. I asked fellow type one diabetic Blake Zimmerman about the CGM, and he voiced it better than I ever could have. “I definitely think that the CGM is worth it despite how annoying it is at times. It helps me to know what my blood sugars are doing, which helps me if they are fluctuating or when I am sleeping.”

Even though, like Zimmerman said, the CGM is very annoying, it is truly a life savior in the terms of constantly keeping you up to speed on your blood glucose trends.

Apart from CGM, the only bright spot in the future of diabetes is the Artificial Pancreas. Just like it sounds, the Artificial Pancreas acts as a synthetic pancreas that controls your glucose and insulin levels throughout the day without the push of a button.

With more and more focus on the up and coming artificial pancreas, it is becoming a more real possibility. Pains of waking up at two o’clock in the morning are slowly disappearing and will soon be non existent in the coming years.

The dreams of diabetics not only living their lives just like every other person is not only coming more of a reality, it is also becoming a formality. With help from leading schools and hospitals around the globe, clinical trials have been approved for the public. For the first time, few amounts of diabetics are experiencing what a day in the life of a non-diabetic is like. The care-free lifestyle relating to not counting carbs and constantly monitoring your blood glucose is soon becoming a great and exciting palatability.

Your body is a well oiled machine, run by three main things. Blood, protein and glucose. From energy levels to enzymes to hormone production, the pancreas and its allies maintain one of the most important systems inside your body: the endocrine system from your thyroid that controls hormones and metabolism to your adrenal glands which produce important hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.

The organs and glands that are connected to the endocrine system are some of the most sequential in the body, but one that isn’t may be the most affected. The kidney is vital to to maintenance of glucagon and insulin. The kidney is like the groom’s best friend at the wedding. Involved in every step of the way, the kidney and pancreas go hand and hand.

Diabetes mellitus causes the blood vessels inside the body to be damaged, and this can cause a blockage in the kidneys. This leads to nerve damage and swelling in the extremities. About 30 percent of all patients will experience kidney failure over their lifetime according to Kidney.org. The risk that both type one and type two diabetics face is extremely life threatening and can lead to severe repercussions.

The number of people who have a predisposition to diabetes, or prediabetes, is astounding. What’s even worse is the number of people that will develop type two diabetes over their lifetimes.

People need to be educated about the risks that lead up to and involve type two diabetes so we can prevent the disease from debilitating the population.

Of the 86 million people that develop pre-diabetes, 15-30 percent will develop type two diabetes. Personally, that number is disappointing for two reasons. First, as a country whose is trying to revolutionize its health, how do so many people not get the knowledge they need about the world they are going to encounter if they never change their habits. Second, if they have been told about the path they are taking, it pains me that they are either too lazy or don’t care about the life they are choosing.

It is offensive to me as a diabetic who was never given the choice of dealing with the pains of diabetes that these people when given a chance to do something about it, but choose not to.

But aside from the facts, there is one thing that is certainly true; diabetes is on the rise. The CDC has stated that following the current projectory that the United States is on, one in three Americans will have type two diabetes.

That number, to me, is staggering. Most of the population in 2050 will be so fat that their organs start to shut down. This will not only reflect against the lives of families, but also our healthcare system and economy.

I do not want to rant, or stand atop a soapbox, but the expansion of the human body is something that will be a deciding factor in the future of the human race. We go backward in time to the centuries of death before the age of 40, or we can climb out of the sinkhole that we are swimming amongst and treat both our bodies and minds better. The greater the body, soul and mind are treated, the better that our race as whole can progress.

If my previous calling has inspired you to treat your body better, or you are type one diabetic like me who wishes to control their intake better, I have some pretty healthy tips and eat to beat diabetes.

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