Recently, I came up with the idea of organising a feature series for my Blog, ‘Type 1 Takeover Tuesdays’, where I publish a post once a week, guest written by a fellow Type 1 Diabetic. Hearing about others’ Diabetes stories and experiences fascinates me, and I’m sure I’m not alone, so I want to put them out there to inspire, and to encourage Diabetics to make their voices heard. If you’d like to contribute a post, please feel free to contact me for more details.
I’d like to introduce you to this weeks’ Guest Blogger, Andrew Howells. Andrew is a Type 1 Diabetic, and has been for around 10 years. He was diagnosed in his mid 20’s and uses multiple daily injections (MDI), although he’d love to have a pump. He enjoys training a lot, so tries not to let the condition get in the way of him hitting the gym. Here’s what Andrew has to stay…
Avoiding The Diabetic Car Crash by Andrew Howells
I’ve often sat down, staring into space, deep in thought (when my blood sugars have been stable, not that confused state we go into when our blood sugars are low but we haven’t yet realised it), wondering how to describe Type 1 Diabetes to people who don’t have the condition and who don’t understand it.
I’m particularly looking at how to describe managing the condition and the effects of low blood sugars (Hypoglycaemia).
The best metaphor that I’ve managed to compare Type 1 Diabetes to is that of ‘putting fuel in a car’. Our bodies require fuel, whether that is carbohydrates, proteins, fats etc. We all put some or all of these fuels into our body and regulate control via insulin, either from an injection or a pump. We then move around during the day, no matter how much or how little, we all move around which can burn off the fuel in our body. This in its self shouldn’t be a problem, but we also have the insulin in our bodies breaking down the fuel.
If we are about to embark on a journey in our car, we’ll put fuel in the car and then set off, burning the fuel over time and by pushing the accelerator down more and more to get past that car that just won’t move over for us.
Eventually the car and our bodies will run out of fuel if we don’t replenish what we’ve burnt off.
This is where I’ve tried to draw similarities between the two. Our bodies are burning off the fuel, and like a car running out of petrol or diesel, we are about to come to a juddering halt. Sometimes we can pick up on the warning signs and top up the fuel and avoid the crash/hypo. Often though, we don’t see the signs of an impending low or hypo for one reason or another, and before we know it, we are shaking, sweating, confused, panicking, angry, (I could list the warning signs forever but we all know them and all have our own individual signs), and just like a car, we are about to crash. Except when we crash, we won’t veer off the road or hit another vehicle; we could become unconscious and may need help from someone to get enough fuel back into our bodies to be able to continue with our own personal journey throughout the day and go about our lives.
Whilst our bodies ‘crashing’ may not be as severe as an actual car crash, the effects of a hypo, especially if it is a bad one, can be long lasting and may take days to recover from.
So, just like a car needs the right amount of fuel in order to complete its journey, our bodies also need the right amount of fuel in order to get through our daily, personal journeys, as none of us want to experience the effects of a crash.
Tell me what you think of the metaphor, and what you use to describe Type 1 Diabetes and the effects of a hypo to people who don’t understand the condition.
Leave your comments below or find me on twitter @type1andrew
Thanks for sharing your metaphor with us Andrew. I’ve never looked at our condition in that way before, but after reading your post, I completely agree. Our bodies are machines!
If you’d like to take part in Type 1 Takeover Tuesdays, please get in touch, I love hearing your stories 💕