According to the National Institutes of Health, 29.1 million people are living with diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes, and about 208,000 people younger than 20 years are living with diagnosed diabetes.
An autoimmune disease once called juvenile diabetes because it mostly affected children, T1D is now on the rise in United States. Unlike type 2 diabetes, type 1 diabetes is not based on diet or lifestyle, so fitness and nutrition habit changes won’t lessen it or make it go away. It’s also begun to show up in adults.
Last summer, I had the privilege of speaking to a camp of children and teens in town with type 1 diabetes about writing and writing careers. Despite having to go through life with the challenges of their condition—wearing insulin pumps and monitoring blood sugar—these kids were radiant, brilliant and full of life and dreams. The theme was superheroes and we talked about fun things like books, writing careers and which superheroes had creative jobs (Superman was a writer and Green Lantern—Kyle Rayner—was a graphic designer). We even played a fun game that got a lot of laughs once people figured out how it worked.
While type 1 kids have a seemingly normal existence, there is a darker side of the disease, a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis, a life-threatening condition caused when cells are unable to get the sugar necessary for energy due to a lack of insulin. Every type 1 diabetic lives with this in their rearview mirror and it’s a nightmare for parents, some of whom have lost children to this condition.
November is Diabetes Awareness Month. In this issue, our feature takes a look at what the life of a diabetic youth is like and what goes through the heart of her parents. I hope her story helps, inspires and sheds light on this disease. It’s not an easy one.