Bridging the Gap: 4 Things I’ve Learned about Diabetes
We’ve all heard it before, that diabetes is caused by too many sweets. The sad but true stereotype that those with diabetes have trouble controlling their calorie intake. Let me cut to the chase… this is not true. As an intern for Insulet for almost a full year now, I have learned so much more about the disease, and the constant struggle to manage it. Diabetes has a mind of its own… but those living with it do too. For those of you who are like me and didn’t know too much about the disease, gear up to have a little crash course in reading 4 things that I have learned about diabetes after working here at Insulet…
1. There’s Many Types, and They’re That Different?
There are many different types of diabetes. The most commonly known are Types 1 and 2, and they are very different…
Type 1 is an autoimmune disease that sadly has no cause or cure. It develops when the pancreas stops producing insulin. This is a serious problem, since insulin is what regulates blood sugar, and uses it to give the body energy. Therefore, the person needs to take insulin through injections or an insulin pump. To avoid having too low of a blood sugar level, or too high, the patient needs to consistently be checking their blood glucose with finger pricks or a continuous glucose monitor to determine when insulin needs to be administered. [i]
Type 2 is when the pancreas produces insulin, but the body is resistant to the insulin being produced. The pancreas’ main job is to regulate glucose production, but within those who live with T2D, the pancreas has a hard time managing these blood sugar levels. T2D is often related to genetics and/or lifestyle, but does not always require insulin to be managed properly. [ii]
2. Finding the Balance within Diabetes Management
To help manage sugar levels in both T1 and T2 diabetes, working out and living a healthy lifestyle can definitely help. But, a healthy lifestyle is not just about going, going, going… there needs to be some R&R, too. [iii]
Stress can affect your blood sugar levels. When you are nervous, your body produces adrenaline to make you fight or flight the current situation. But, if you have diabetes, your body has a harder time enacting the fight or flight response, and instead the glucose remains in the bloodstream. The remaining glucose in the blood then causes a sugar imbalance. Therefore, it is just as important to do mental exercises as well as physical ones. [iv]
3. Helpful Tools like the Omnipod® System
Insulet has taught me to have hope, to look to the future, and to smile at all of the healthy lives they support. Before coming to Insulet, I knew diabetes was something that had to be monitored and managed continuously with a large device strapped to your waist… This was the sad reality for those in my family who suffer from diabetes, and I didn’t think there was anything else better out there for them.
Recently, one of my close family friends was diagnosed. They were only 15 years old, and I felt so sorry that at such a young age, they would have to take on the consistent responsibility of watching their sugar intake. But then I heard they were using the Omnipod® System, and that the Pod helped keep them aware of their next step in an easier and more discreet manner. Now, diabetes doesn’t rule their life, but instead serves an addition to it. It was waterproof, sport proof, and easy to use. It was great, since it let my friend be a kid, and have control over their life.
Being able to work at a company that is so technologically advanced in improving the lives of those who live with diabetes is inspiring. I’m able to work every day knowing that what I’m doing will benefit others. Every time I open my computer and write an email, I’m benefiting others. Every time I share my knowledge of the power of the Pod with those who need it, I’m benefiting others.
4. People with Diabetes Deserve Respect
Last, but definitely not least, I have gained an immense respect for the diabetes community and their families. Almost everyone that I work with at Insulet has a direct connection to someone who is living with diabetes. Whether it be a co-worker, a parent, a child, or a cousin, there is a passion for helping make life with diabetes easier. I have seen how much hard work goes into being a working parent, while also trying to care for your child who is learning how to manage their diabetes - how much your mind needs to be aware of your surroundings, your blood levels, your sugar intake, and your mood, when dealing with the disease. It’s a job, and it’s not part-time. Those living with diabetes could give us all a lesson in management… management of balancing our lives, our health, and our stress. Thank you diabetes community, for being a model for us all.
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[i] “What Is Type 1 Diabetes?” Beyond Type 1, 29 Jan. 2020, beyondtype1.org/type-1-diabetes.
[ii] “What Is Type 2 Diabetes?” Beyond Type 1, beyondtype1.org/type-2-diabetes.
[iii] Cirignano, Andrea Blair. “9 Things You Never Knew About Type 2 Diabetes.” The Healthy, 28 Mar. 2019, www.thehealthy.com/diabetes/type-2-diabetes/type-2-diabetes-facts.
[iv] Purdie, Jennifer. “Stress: How It Affects Diabetes and How to Decrease It.” Healthline, www.healthline.com/health/diabetes-and-stress.