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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Not Even Close...


As my "network" of "D" friends expands, I am increasingly aware of type 1 deaths, diagnoses, and hospital admissions from low induced seizures and loss of consciousness. With each incident, I mutter sadly, quietly, and angrily, and pissed-offly in my head "yet one more reason why Insulin is not a CURE."

I pratically spit it, the statement.

I do.

Type 1 Diabetes is difficult, at best, to manage. It does not lend itself to being "controlled". It can kill. The medication used to treat type 1 Diabetes is insulin.

Insulin is a hormone.

Insulin can be deadly if too large of a dose is given. Insulin can cause seizures, coma, and even death. Insulin is the only treatment for type 1 diabetes. Without insulin, persons with type 1 diabetes die.

Diabetes affects EVERY organ system in a persons body. These people look totally "normal" from the outside, while this disease wreaks havoc on their vasculature and organs. Insulin is needed, not only as life support, but to temper the effects of high blood sugars on tissues, vessels, and organs.

Insulin is not a cure. It never will be.

It cannot be taken orally.

The acidity of the stomach destroys the proteins that "make-up" insulin and, consequently, render it useless. Insulin must be injected with a needle. It is give subcutaneously several times daily. It is give with food. It is given with high blood sugars. It is given as "basal", a maintenance dose so-to-speak. This, my friends, is no CURE.

Insulin must be administered to keep persons with type 1 diabetes alive. Without it, they would die. Prior to 1921, the year exogenous insulin was produced/discovered, a person with type 1 diabetes would die a death of "starvation," as their cells would be unable to utilize glucose as an energy source. The death was described as painful and agonizing and miserable between the unquenched thirst, the continual flow of urine, and the insatiable hunger ... to no end... well, there would be an end ... The End. "Life Support", it is. Again, A CURE, it is not.

Dosing is not simple. It is complicated.

It is not a medication where you can just "dose it" and "forget it". You administer it, you check on the effectiveness of that dose a couple of hours later by checking a blood sugar level. Needle after needle after needle is the life of a type 1 diabetic... around the clock ... hour to hour. Insulin is not a CURE.

The balance required in dosing insulin is tenuous.

If you give too much it can induce a low blood sugar reaction called "hypoglycemia" or an "insulin reaction". A low blood sugar is an immediate emergency and must be dealt with promptly. It can occur at any time. A low blood sugar can lead to seizures, coma, and/or death.

AND...

If you don't receive enough insulin over the course of several hours you can end up in Diabetic Ketoacidosis; this is a life threatening condition that requires medical attention immediately.

AND...

Finally there are the reasons we all do that we do. The reasons, and the list is long, as to why we attempt to keep "tight" control of blood sugars... the long term effects of diabetes... the "complications". High blood sugar levels affect blood vessels, organs, and nerves throughout the body. Retinopathy, neuropathy, nephropathy, and all the fucking "opathies" along with cardiac disease, peripheral vascular disease, and dislipidemias...and on and on ... are but a few of the consequences of diabetes. A CURE? Definitely not. Period.

Too much Insulin.... you fall victim to a low. Too little ... you are stuck chasing down a high. Not a CURE.

Activity, monthly cycles, stress levels, environmental temperatures, illnesses, and growth spurts must all be accounted for when administering insulin. Blood sugars are affected by all of these factors and by oh, oh ... so much more. Insulin is far from a CURE.

Insulin is not a CURE.

A CURE it is not.

A day-in-the-life of gratitude for Insulin .... yet hoping for a less laborious treatment regimen for type 1 diabetes. A CURE, this is not.

27 comments:

Zita said...

Yes. Well done. And my heart breaks reading @CureType1Diabetes first update on Twitter today. Another teen was lost to diabetes overnight. Insulin is not a cure....

Alexis Nicole said...

I am crying. Hellishh night here. You summed up why. Love you!

Roselady said...

Great explanation, overall, of how diabetes affects the whole body. Sometimes it's hard to explain that to people who don't know. You summed it up perfectly.

Amy said...

Not even close . . . insulin is no cure . . . T1D stings and burns and wreaks havoc. Just another reminder of a day in the life of pissy gratitude ;)

Sysy said...

I'm sending your post to everyone I know. It's just like you put it.

When I explain this to people they do the whole...cock their head to the side and squint their eyes, smile, and tell me I'm going to be fine. I hate it because I know they don't understand. When I was at school I felt torn between proving that I could still do everything a nondiabetic could and yet I wanted people to see the suffering, the difficulty, the reality. In the end, most people I graduated with thought I had a cure despite my telling them otherwise. They said, "but you look fine" and "aww Sysy, don't worry, at least you don't have cancer" We have a huge challenge ahead of us on this front. I feel like it may never end...

I appreciate you putting this into words so accurately.

Penny said...

You got it honey. Raising my glass for a cure in our lifetimes.

Rachael said...

Wow, this is so true. I read this post and Halie's and just cried. It really is an eye opener on how important a complete cure really is. I've been personally too comfortable with saying to myself, that it will happen someday. It needs to happen now. This is just a rude awakening on how cruel T1 D really is. Live a near normal life my butt!

Jen said...

Great post Reyna! I have had a similar one rolling around my head these past couple of weeks too. People forget that insulin may save lives but it can KILL. When Addison went on the pump, it scared the crap out of me thinking about this cartridge of insulin with a tube going into his body that COULD potentially malfunction and send too much insulin into him and kill him. I try and push those thoughts to the back of mind but it is a reality. We need a cure!!!

Denise aka 'Mom of Bean' said...

It's something we all 'know' but to see it all there in black and white just reminds me of the gravity of this disease that can be glossed over by those who don't understand. I'm guilty of making light of D at times, too. This is a good reminder that even when numbers are 'good' and things are 'under control' we by no means can sit back and relax. Insulin is great; it's what keeps our kids and friends alive; BUT it's not what we really need...it's NOT a cure.

Michelle said...

SO true! I don't think people REALLY understand. It was a frightening thought when we left the hospital after C's diagnosis that I'd be giving her insulin multiple times a day by myself (or my hubby)...and if I was giving the same med in a hospital setting I'd have to have another nurse sign off on it....to me that spoke volumes about how serious this is! I'm grateful for the insulin that saves Charlotte's life on a daily (hourly, even) basis...but I hate that it could just as easily take her life too! Hoing, praying, and working hard to raise awareness and funding for a CURE for all C/PWDs!!!

busymom said...

You are SO right. I know this, and you know this, but it really does have to become common knowledge. It is NOT a cure. We are still fighting, and you are doing an awesome job. Great post, my friend! : ) Holly

The DL said...

Couldn't have said it better myself. I hope lots of people pass this around. Thank you!

Meri said...

Well you hit that nail square on the head! Can we distribute this to all the major newspapers of the world?

Renata said...

Awesome...well not awesome...but awesomely written. I am re-posting.

Wendy said...

I love this.

LOVE. IT.

BRAVO, my friend.

TELL IT..........SCREAM IT........

xoxoxoxo

Liz's Veiw on Life said...

Thanks Reyna, well said!!!

It made me think...if you gave a non-pwd a full syringe and told them that they have to inject just the right amount..too little will give them a slow death....too much will kill them fast. How many would actually do it???? They would say that it's too much of a risk.
But we do it every day!

Insulin is not a cure!!!!

Sandy said...

Well said :)

Hallie said...

Damn straight. Not a cure. Not even close.

Beth said...

I'm going to repost this on my blog (giving you credit, of course). You summed it up completely. People think, just because I have an insulin pump and I've lived with it for 15 years, that I am pretty much cured. Insulin is not a cure.

Ann said...

Amen. Once again.

Kim said...

So well said. Go Reyna!!

Nicole said...

Reyna, that was perfectly stated! So perfect that I would love to use part of it for my JDRF walk letter later this fall. OK with you? Thanks so much for perfectly penning what we feel every day!!!

Kris said...

Very well said, as always.

Not a cure AT ALL!

Heidi / D-Tales said...

Excellent post!

TracyK said...

AWESOME!

Nicole said...

Great post :)

Jules said...

you are right. this is an excellent post, and it is no cure. not when potential side effects in the insulin box list 'death'. its a f*cked up life for sure, for the kids and their families and the adult type 1 's who seem 'forgotten' in all this. im getting angrier and perhaps more outspoken for Reuben and all the type 1's sake... we need a cure, amen to that. beautiful post as always.