Wednesday, September 28, 2022
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November is Diabetes Awareness Month: A Primer

Submitted by Samantha Merwin.

November is Diabetes Awareness month. During this time we educate on Diabetes facts and information. While I’m sharing a ton of information via social media during November there are a few things I want you to know!
There is no way to prevent Type 1 Diabetes. It can be diagnosed in adults or children. A person with Type 1 Diabetes can eat anything they choose, in moderation just like any other person, as long as they take insulin for it. It is not caused by eating sugar. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease that impacts the pancreas’s ability to produce insulin. In a non-Type 1 diabetic, the pancreas produces insulin. In a Type 1 diabetic, the pancreas does not produce any insulin. Insulin is necessary to stay alive so people with Type 1 use an insulin pump or take multiple shots of insulin every day. The amount of insulin that needs to be injected varies for each person based on food, sports, the weather, growth spurts, seasonal changes and so many other variables. A person with Type 1 needs to know what their blood sugar is at all times, which can be achieved by testing with a blood glucose meter or using a continuous glucose monitor like the Dexcom which my son Logan uses and we love. The Dexcom provides real time blood sugar data which helps keep our children safe at school, at friends’ houses or wherever they go, while enabling parents to monitor their child’s blood sugar from afar. It also lessens the amount of times you have to test blood sugar via finger prick!
There  are no breaks with Type 1; a person must stay on top of their daily care to stay healthy and keep their blood sugar in range. If their blood sugar goes too low, they need fast acting carbohydrates/sugar to bring it back up. If it goes too high, they need insulin and to stay hydrated to bring their blood sugar down and prevent Diabetic Ketoacidosis. People with Type 1 need to carry fast acting sugar with them every day as low blood sugars can occur quickly.
It’s important to know the signs of Type 1 diabetes, especially this time of year as it’s often mistaken for the flu. Bring your child to the doctor if they are exhibiting any of these symptoms and request a blood glucose check (image courtesy of Beyond Type 1):
Many times Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are confused. While I discussed the cause of Type 1 Diabetes above, Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body cannot properly use insulin. Type 2 Diabetes can be prevented unless it’s a genetic predisposition. Approximately 90% of diabetes patients have Type 2 Diabetes, and 10% have Type 1.
The emotional impact on families is difficult sometimes. Although research for a cure is ongoing and technology helps with day to day lives, it’s not a cure. Kids with Type 1 have to carry bags around every day with supplies that can save their lives. They wear devices on their bodies to stay alive that make them different than other kids. They have to prepare more for sports and activities to help keep their blood sugar in range. They can’t just be carefree and eat a cupcake at school, they need to know how many carbohydrates it contains so they can give themselves the proper amount of insulin. These kids have worries that none of us can imagine unless we are in their shoes. I’m lucky we live in a school district that has full time nurses who have helped Logan through the years to become as independent as he is now. No matter what time of day, it’s impacting their lives. There are several existing nonprofits that we fundraise for and partner with to fund research for a cure and have activities that help Type 1 kids form relationships with each other. Unfortunately sometimes those events are cost prohibitive for families to attend due to the cost of medical supplies.

In turn, I joined forces with a group of incredible families earlier this year to create a nonprofit that will help these kids thrive despite their disease. Elbowbumpkid Inc grants scholarships to Connecticut families impacted by Type 1 to attend a favorite diabetes education event in the summer. We also fundraise for diabetes education and other programs that help local CT families thrive. Our little Haddam based nonprofit just awarded our first round of scholarships this week! To learn more, feel free to follow our Facebook page at facebook.com/elbowbumpkid or donate on our website https://www.elbowbumpkidinc.org/
If you would like more information about Type 1 Diabetes or the Elbowbumpkid Inc nonprofit, please feel free to contact Samantha Merwin at elbowbumpkid@gmail.com.
Photos provided by Samantha Merwin.

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