Updated: This post on Type 1 Diabetes has been updated on October 2020 to reflect new and relevant information.
What Is Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes, is a condition (chronic) in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin.
It is a lifelong condition.
Requires strict management.
Involves a lot of Highs and Lows, also known as Hyperglycemia and Hypoglycemia.
What Is Insulin
Insulin is a hormone in the body, needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells and produce energy.
It comes from a gland situated below the stomach, also known as the pancreas.
If the islet cells are destroyed in the pancreas, it will produce little or no insulin.
The Role Of The Pancreas
The pancreas has one role. That is to secrete insulin into the bloodstream.
Once the insulin circulates, it allows sugar to enter the cells and lowers the amount of sugars in your bloodstream, keeping it at a steady level.
This level is usually between 4mmol – 7mmol.
You can imagine, if the body isn’t produce enough or no insulin, the sugars in the bloodstream will not be lowered. Causing excessive rise in blood sugars which can cause further problems.
Despite active research being made till this date, type 1 diabetes still has no cure.
The treatment focuses on managing the blood sugar levels with insulin instead, to prevent complications.
What Is Glucose
Glucose is another name for sugar.
It is sourced from food and the liver.
Why your liver you say?
Your liver stores glucose as glycogen. In other words, when your body glucose levels are low (say you haven’t eaten in a while), the liver breaks down the stored glycogen into glucose to keep your glucose levels within a normal range.
Type 1 Diabetes In Children
Type 1 diabetes is mostly common in children, hence the name Juvenile.
Children can start experiencing symptoms of the illness any where from 8 weeks of birth onwards.
The Symptoms of diabetes in children include:
- weight loss – My toddler began losing weight from the age of 1 – he was diagnosed 7 months later.
- wetting the bed or urinating more often – became frequent with my toddler
- feeling weak or fatigued
- being hungry or thirsty more often – again, my toddler became super thirsty within a short period of time
- mood changes
- blurred vision
Causes Of Type 1 Diabetes
The exact cause of type 1 diabetes is still unknown.
The most common response from doctors is that the body destroys it’s own body’s cells.
What that means is that the body’s own immune system, which normally fights bacteria and viruses supposedly accidently destroys the islet cells too.
Is our body’s immune system really that dumb at times? I mean, it’s potentially given my toddler a chronic condition. If only cells had a brain hey! pfft
Another cause can be genetics.
Or environmental factors.
Prevention of Type 1 Diabetes
Unfortunately there’s no known way to prevent Type 1 diabetes.
Researchers are working on finding a cure for the disease, you can follow the likes of JDCA to find out more.
Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes
The main treatment for Type 1 diabetes is insulin management.
This can be provided in the form of injections, an insulin pump or a tablet.
In children, the options are usually daily injections or an insulin pump to manage and provide insulin into the body.
This also includes checking daily blood sugar levels so you can take action accordingly.
I check my toddlers blood sugar levels using a pen pricker 5-6 times daily. Ideally before each morning and night and before every meal.
He is also on the Medtronic pump which is a pump attached to his body which pumps insulin into him when required.
Diet can also help stabilize the blood sugar levels to avoid them going extremely high or even dropping extremely low.
Check out my post on how Barley can help prevent spikes in blood sugar levels for Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics.
My story on how my toddler was diagnosed
Dear Diary, Saturday the 8th of September 2018 – a day I’ll never forget.
A day the ground was swept away from under my feet.
I started noticing symptoms in my toddler 2 days prior to getting his blood sugars checked.
He was peeing a lot and would wake up in the middle of the night (almost 3-5 times) asking for water.
This wasn’t normal.
This ISN’T normal.
My sisters son is also a diabetic, they have a glucose checking machine. Instead of calling 999, my sister came over and checked his blood sugar instead.
It could be a hoax. I kept reassuring myself, that he’s just probably going though a toddler growth spurt and was thirsty!
Checking The Blood Sugars
She took out the pricker to test his glucose levels.
I looked away, praying to the lord above, please please let it be normal.
Those 3 seconds were the biggest 3 seconds of my life, praying and waiting for the results to come in normal.
But at the same time, my heart was telling me something else. I was panicking from the inside. I guess it was my mother instinct telling me things are going to change from here on.
The 3 second wait was over, his blood glucose level. 33.3mmol!
Is this even a real number for diabetics?
33.3mmol, is this even a real figure.
My heart was in shock, so was my body.
I couldn’t move just thinking about my little one.
My Life was swept away from under my feet in under 3 seconds, that’s it I said to myself, my child needs to see a doctor.
My toddler on the other hand had no clue what was going on.
He was happily playing and running around.
Thank you lord for keeping him well even though his sugars were dangerously high!
Leaving for the hospital
Upon leaving for the hospital I just remember crying and crying.
I cried so loudly I literally poured my heart out, I didn’t think twice who was around me.
I still couldn’t believe this was happening, after all he was only 19 months!
We reached the Manchester children’s hospital (Manchester children’s hospital) at 8pm. Got checked in and seated ourselves waiting to be seen.
The doctors and their jargon is scary I tell ya!
Once the doctors call us in, it was all needles and pokes from there on.
My boy just cried and cried.
They were all mumbling amongst themselves which made me very uneasy as I didn’t know what the terminology they were saying even meant.
A doctor checked his ketones, the results showed 5.4.
A nurse said we have to act fast and start his treatment.
I felt I was in an episode of Casualty where they use big terms and make fuss just to make the audience panic and anxious. I felt like the audience.
The amount of needles they poked in my sons hands was painful to watch.
He has the tiniest most cutest hands full of baby fat which they kept poking, as the veins were not visible due to his hands being so young.
All I could hear were the cry’s of my baby.
I wish it would stop, I wish we could just go home and continue living like we used to.
I prayed and hugged my baby so close to my heart assuring him it’s all going to be ok, he didn’t deserve all this, Type 1 got him!
We had to stay in the hospital for almost a week just so the doctors could complete there checks and bring his levels back down to normal.
A lot of training was provided during the stay, so we could manage his diabetes after being discharged from the hospital.
The injection they gave was a type of insulin to bring his levels and ketones down.
It was the ketones they were more concerned about as they can be alarmingly dangerous if above 0.6.
Diabetes In Toddlers Warning Signs
It can be really difficult to pick up diabetes signs in a young toddler or child.
However keeping an eye on any changes in your child’s development and diet is key to finding out problems at first hand.
The doctors were shocked as to how fast we picked up the signs.
He could have fallen dangerously ill, if his excessive pee or thirst didn’t trigger me.
What Happened Next
During the nights the nurses kept popping in and out to check his blood levels, by the morning he returned to the normal average 7mmol.
Great news! But that wasn’t it.
He kept spiking up and down throughout the day which confirmed there was a definite need of insulin required in his body to keep his levels maintained.
They gave him shots of insulin with each meals to check whether he was insulin resistant or sensitive.
He was sensitive which meant his body was responding to the insulin well and making use of it.
Resistant means your body rejects the insulin, which then requires alternate methods of medicine.
After a weeks amount of care and training, we were discharged.
Discharged with A WHOLE LOAD of new medicine my son had become dependent on.
I suppose this was the start of a new lifestyle change for my little boy and I assured my boy that mummy and daddy would hold his hand forever and ever.
You’ve Got This
There are millions of diseases out there, we just have to be grateful as there is always someone out there who is in a worse position than us.
I just want to say to all those mothers and fathers out there who care for a child who requires treatment, YOU ARE A WARRIOR!
It’s the hardest thing seeing your own flesh and blood go through pain and cope through illness.
Health is such a great blessing that I pray is never taken away from anyone.
I send my love to all those out there struggling and fighting for their children’s lives, we can do this. your not alone, were TOGETHER!
Want to look after your diet? Then make sure to check out this post where I share the top superfoods for diabetics and even non diabetics.