The “Pain” of T1 Diabetes

“I could never be a diabetic and poke myself with needles all the time.” It’s probably the comment that I hear the most. I would have never thought I could either but when faced with life/death or even just feeling really sick, you learn to endure whatever you need to. And I’ll admit that I still shut my eyes tightly and count to 10 before each poke! It’s just what I need to do to psych myself for possible pain.

Finger pricks don’t normally hurt, I test my BG that way 6-10 times a day. I used to inject insulin 2-5 times a day but I’m very grateful to now have an insulin pump as it takes me from multiple insulin injections each day to site changes a few times a week. Sometimes I hit a blood vessel (and I personally have more than the average person at the surface of my skin ?) and have to try again but it still is far fewer pokes! I also have a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) and I have to insert a new sensor under the skin every week. Sometimes inserting a new infusion set or sensor doesn’t hurt at all, sometimes it really hurts! Yes it’s a pain (in more than one way!) but I choose to be thankful for technology that means less pokes.

I read about how diabetes management was even 20 years ago and I’m thankful to live in a time where we have better insulins and better tools for management. And even if having this disease means living with painful pokes, I’m glad that I can otherwise have better health than people in the past had with diabetes! T1 diabetes used to mean a shorter life expectancy but with proper management, that isn’t true anymore. While there is still talk sometimes about a cure, or at least an artificial pancreas, I choose to be grateful for any technology that makes management a little easier ❤️

How I got here

On August 5, 2006, I ended up in the ER really sick and found out that I had diabetes. I was 27-years-old. That began a long journey that has brought me here. For almost 10 years, I was misdiagnosed as Type 2. I’d had multiple doctors tell me that my diabetes was “weird” and didn’t act like Type 2 typically does. I was on insulin within a year of diagnosis, what is now known as a red flag for a misdiagnosis. My official diagnosis now is Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA), a subtype of Type 1 that has only become better understood in the last 5 years. It is sometimes called Type 1.5, but the treatment and daily life looks pretty much the same as any Type 1 diabetic (and very different than someone living with Type 2, but that is a post for another day)!

I wear an insulin pump and Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM), the Medtronic 670g system for those who care about such details! The insulin pump delivers a small amount of insulin every few minutes 24 hours a day (called a basal rate) and I can also tell it how many of carbs I’m eating so it can dose out insulin for my meals (which is called a bolus). The CGM monitors my blood sugar (BG) 24 hours a day and alerts me when I’m going too high or too low. Despite the wonderful advancements in technology that makes T1 diabetes management easier, it is still a demanding disease that takes a lot of work to control and manage. There aren’t many areas of life that it doesn’t affect. And people who have never known a T1 diabetic well usually don’t have a clue how much effort is required just to try to live and be healthy! This blog is for you 🙂

T1 diabetes is one of the fastest growing autoimmune diseases in the US and the largest increase in new diagnoses is in adults, a demographic where it used to be almost unheard of. Type 1 used to be called Juvenile Diabetes but it isn’t usually called that anymore with good reason. It is still more commonly diagnosed in childhood but diagnosis in adults is now very common (as high as 40% of new cases are being diagnosed in adulthood, even adults in their 40s). If you don’t know a T1 diabetic now, unfortunately it is likely in the next 10 years that you will! I hope my blog will give you new understanding into the daily life of a Type 1 diabetic.