Today I learned from a study done by the United Kingdom National Health Service, that Type 1 Diabetics are 3.5x more likely to die if they contract Covid-19 than Type 2’s who are already twice more likely to die than the population that doesn’t have Diabetes at all.
You probably guessed that I am a Type 1 Diabetic. I was diagnosed when I was about 60, so it’s been close to 30 years that I’ve been dealing with this 24/7 job of monitoring my Blood Glucose (BG) levels, taking my body with me when I go on vacation, eating healthy and living a healthy lifestyle. You know Type 1 Diabetes used to be called Juvenile Diabetes because it was pretty much contained within the young population. Now, however, there are more exceptions to that rule and also exceptions to Adult Onset Diabetes affecting a younger age group. Pediatricians are now dealing with Adult Onset Diabetes patients, now called Type 2.
Type 1 Diabetes is an auto-immune disease in which the body’s insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells are destroyed by the body’s own immune cells by accident. Talk about mistakes, this one is a biggie. I’ve often said to my friends and family that this auto-immune stuff is the ultimate of self-hatred. I mean, after all, destroying one’s own body, what else can one say about it! Of course, I’m only trying to sort of “lighten” this news, but most folks don’t get the joke. Whoever said that to fully understand another person’s life, you must walk a mile in his shoes, was right-on.
My life, since my diagnosis, has turned upside-down. I feel like I’m living on the head of a pin, trying, sometimes desperately, to keep my BG in a narrow range, above 90 and below 150. While I strive to have complete control of this, I truly don’t. There are factors that influence my BG levels beyond my food and exercise choices, some internal, which can put my numbers over 400 and under 60. When either of these or not such disastrous conditions occurs, I am filled with guilt and review my activities with a detailed look at what I did wrong to create this result. Since I have been using an insulin pump, I have much more precise control of insulin delivery but have also added other factors that can negatively influence my BG levels, such as a bloody infusion site, bent inserters, an air bubble in the tubing, and others.
On a personal level, I’ve lost a lot of spontaneity in my lifestyle. I’ve given up lots of food that I love, like pasta (at one point I used to count out 14 strands of linguine as my portion), and try not to feel too sorry for myself.
Acceptance of what is- is the only option. There is an old adage that says something like -if you want to live a healthy life, develop a chronic disease, and take care of yourself.
Before I started using the insulin pump, I was taking several types of insulin, including one that needed to be injected ½ hr. before eating. The decision about exactly when to do this led to harrowing experiences. I was on a plane and food was about to be served. I was seated in the front section of the plane, near the attendant’s station, and I thought service would start at my end of the aisle. So, I injected myself, only to learn that food was served to the back of the aisle first and then slowly moved forward to where I was seated. I was panicked thinking my BG would drop way too low before the food got to me. I survived but not without lots of anxiety.
So now, adding to my everyday anxiety caused by my BG life and times, the latest research mentioned earlier about Covid-19 and Type 1 Diabetes, underscores my need to expose myself to other people as little as possible. It doesn’t sound like a lot of fun to me, but the other alternative of getting the Coronavirus is definitely worse. Rather than a question of fun or not fun, it’s a question of life or death.