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Thursday, July 11, 2013
How To - Type 1 Diabetes

By Liliana Lees (volunteer from 2013 Big Red Run)

I try to describe type 1 diabetes in one line: it's not easy, just like the disease. It's a disease where the pancreas fails and insulin must be injected up to six times a day to stay alive…every day for the rest of your life. Your body starves to death without insulin. 
When my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. He was 18. I have gone from knowing nothing to having an obsession. As soon as the specialist made the diagnosis, I was starving for more information. Every spoken word on TV or radio related to type 1 diabetes I will research further. Anything I see in print, I read twice over. 
I have joined every chat room, every Facebook page, every website and every group from all over the world. I search for a cure. There is no cure. Why my son? Why now? What have I done wrong? What could I have done differently? There are no answers. 
It's more common in young children. Although rare, it can occur up to the age of 40. Words like Bolus and Basal are thrown at me. What's an endocrinologist? I also thought counting carbs was for losing weight. Science, maths nutrition, medicine - my head is spinning. It's overwhelming. 
I am one of the lucky parents. My son is able to inject himself and calculate his insulin requirements. It's unrelenting. There is no break from type 1 diabetes. The countless finger pricks and blood glucose checks. I can't imagine trying to inject a young child or baby. How would you? How could you? But I guess you do. You must. 
I've learnt that a hypo can kill, so can a hyper. I quickly learnt to recognise them and treat them both. Any illness needs to be monitored closely for Ketones. 
They tell me that diabetes can be managed. Well, yes, it can. However, there is also a huge margin for error. Any mother of a type 1 will tell you of her fears. 
This is not a choice my son made. I know his battle and his strengths and weaknesses. He is stronger much stronger than I will ever know. 
I can do something. I choose to make a difference. I find JDRF in my many searches. Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. They are dedicated to finding a cure and they are all about improving lives for type 1 diabetics. They have many fundraising events. Jelly Baby Month is one of them. In 2012 I helped to raise funds for JDRF at the Grand Prix in Melbourne. In 2013 I will be brave the elements of the Simpson Desert and volunteer at the first ever Big Red Run in July. We will share stories around the camp fire. I would love to hear yours. 

Below are some useful links. The last one is an excellent timeline of the history of treatment for type 1.
Woolworths is proud to support Jelly Baby Month in May with merchandise on sale at Woolworths stores nationally. Please show your support.


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