"Reyna you will hear things out there that will make you angry."
When Joe's Endocrinologist said these words to me shortly after Joe was diagnosed, I had no idea what he was talking about. I was dealing with the down-and-dirty of diabetes care. The public perception of diabetes had not entered my conscience.
After school yesterday...
I slipped and slid as I carried the precariously lodged three-legged Vietnamese Bamboo Xylophone (don't ask, and thanks Sunshine Grandma) to the car for Joe.
I then slipped and slid my way back to Joe's backpack that was on the sidewalk in front of a massive snow-ice mound by his school.
I unzipped the backpack.
I looked for and found "Woodchuck".
I looked at Joe's daily diabetes log.
Damn, he has been high all day. Joe has a cold and has been running in the low 200s consistently for two days now.
We were planning on staying to play on the school's playground for an hour while Bridget had band practice. According to the log, Joe received a correction dose of insulin about an hour prior for a 331. I needed to check a blood sugar to ensure his "safety" while he played for the next hour or so.
I zipped up the "Woodchuck".
I fell on the ice.
I got up and continued to paint my life with some more colorful descriptors as I headed over to Joe, who happened to be pulling a "Penguin Maneuver" as he sailed down the ice hill head first on his belly with a group of his friends.
He ran to me rosy-cheeked and smiling, as he removed his glove. I removed my gloves. I fumbled with the test strip container with my near-numb finger tips. Woodchuck sat on the snow covered ground as it provided me with my supplies. The glucometer readied. Cold tissue was lanced. Blood was expelled. Blood was wicked up the test strip. 5...4...3...2...1 and a 231 was obtained. Off he went...until the next blood sugar check that would take place in an hour, or so.
You see, here is the thing...
Living with type 1 in our lives hour-to-hour, meal-to-meal, activity-to-activity, blood glucose level-to-blood glucose level is difficult enough. It demands a "never-ending-ness" that many cannot wrap their cerebral gray matter around. When you see me at the park stabbing my kid's finger tips as he slides; or, when you see me measuring his food as I am driving down two lane highways; or, when you see me in my life-sized Pez Dispenser role "mother birding" Glucose Tabs into Joe's pie hole; or, when you see me spiking a juice and holding it to a limp-y, noodle-y, sweat-y Joe... or, when you see me rink-side, field-side, yard-side stalking a potentially low Joe...
This stuff is going on all.the.time.
Around the clock.
24 hours a day.
7 days a week.
365 days a year.
There are no breaks.
So, when I read something like this article written in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound, I feel my spirit, my energy level, my spunk deflate a bit. My "fight" for the "damage control", for the "setting the record straight" is sapped. I am simply tired physically and emotionally. I am left without much vigor by the end of the day for a retaliation. But, when I go back the following morning after a 4am blood sugar check to re-read this:
"A child who acquires type 1 is much different that an adult who acquires type 1. Maybe a child was born with a worse hand? Could a child’s diabetic situation arise from their parent’s decisions in life such as lack of activity and over consumption of processed sugars? If that is possible then maybe the child inherited genes that were mores predisposed to the condition. Or maybe it’s a combination of genes and lifestyle. Many researchers are claiming that childhood diabetes type 1 and type 2 could be related to excess sugar intake and a poor quality diet. Children consuming sodas, juices, milkshakes and candy in excess may be a big contributing factor in acquiring type 1 or type 2. A child who consumes these choices in excess and is more sedentary and has parents who are sedentary may just have the recipe for early onset diabetes of either type".
When I go back and read this, ... I get angry. Once again, misinformation is disseminated. Once again, we are left picking up the pieces. Once again, I am left shouting "DIET AND EXERCISE CANNOT CURE TYPE 1 DIABETES, NOR DOES THE LACK OF A HEALTHY DIET AND A LACK OF EXERCISE CAUSE TYPE 1 DIABETES!" Once again, I am left defending my son, Joe. My son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was just over three years old. Soda had not passed his lips. Milk shakes, perhaps he had one or two...well a bite or two of one or two. Processed foods? Sure, some I suppose. Sedentary? I am unsure if he knows the definition of that word...it certainly could not be used in the same sentence or perhaps paragraph when discussing Joe's qualities.
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disorder in which a person's own body (white blood cells) attack the insulin producing cells (beta cells) in the Pancreas. To develop Type 1 Diabetes three risk factors must be present. They are inheritance (genetic), autoimmunity (self-allergy), and environmental damage (example: from a chemical or virus). So, in other words, a person must have the genetic "set-up" to be susceptible to the environmental stimulus (chemical or virus) in order for the autoimmune "attack" (self-allergy) on the beta cells of the pancreas to occur.
Clearly, Type 1 diabetes is on the rise. My hunch is it is related to the "environmental trigger" component...whether it be viral, chemical, cow milk exposure, vitamin d deficiencies...who knows? The research is still being conducted. Answers are still elusive. More questions arise. More research is initiated.
What I do know is that I need to raise my voice along with my friends. I need to speak up for Joe.
I need to speak up for you.
This could be anyone of you in my position. This could be your child. This could be your day-in-the-life.
A day-in-the-life of defending our day-in-the-life.
My Response To Ignorance: One Voice
Dear Mr. Wilcher
JUST IN: The RETRACTED STATEMENT By Dr. Wilcher...2/17/2011:
My sincere apologies go out to the type 1 diabetic community for the article I wrote that was published in the Daily Sound on Feb 16th, 2011.
The main intention of the article was to say that for type 1 or type 2 diabetics a lifestyle of healthy habits may significantly help their quality of life. My statements about excess sugar were meant to be directed toward type 2 diabetics, which has been linked strongly to lifestyle habits.
Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are basically 2 different diseases. They both involve the pancreas and insulin, but the cause of the diseases are much different. Type 1 diabetes is clearly an autoimmune disorder with no known cause while type 2 diabetes is more of a metabolic issue. I can understand the frustration of type 1 diabetics being categorized with type 2 diabetics.
I am truly sorry for any pain I have caused any of you and your families. I know how hard it must be to have a child who is diagnosed with type 1 and knowing that you have done everything in your power to keep your child healthy.
I quickly scanned the article without giving it a thorough proofreading and I understand that some of the issues I addressed were misleading.
I should have written the article in a much different way, and I do apologize again. My intentions were to raise questions about lifestyle habits and how it can affect one’s lifestyle with these diseases. I hope we can all agree that healthier habits can help us live more full lives no mater what conditions we have.
Bob Wilcher is a Chiropractor and personal trainer in Santa Barbara, CA. He owns Killer B Fitness, a personal and group training studio also located in Santa Barbara, CA. You can contact him at www.killerbfitness.com or (805) 448-2222.