Thursday, January 31, 2013

You're Welcome, I Know the Cure for Diabetes

My grandmother suffered from back problems to the point of needing several surgeries to stop the pain. While visiting her family in East Texas once, she was told of this magical, miracle cure for back problems that was so outlandish it prompted her to interrupt and ask where the information came from. "Why Jo Ann, it was in this month's Enquirer. Didn't you see it?"

I heard this story several times as a kid, and I always go back to that one line whenever a well-meaning person in my life tells me all about a cure for diabetes they read about. I want to throw something sarcastic back - something like, "Oh my goodness! Here we are having spent thousands of dollars paying a specialist to treat her when all we had to do was google 'diabetes cure' to solve all our problems. Thank you, helpful person. You have literally saved us." But I don't. Instead I take a deep breath and remind the person that as of yet a cure for type 1 diabetes hasn't been found because I realize that most people know nothing about diabetes ... much like myself before August 30, 2008.

If you click here, here, and here, you will see cures for diabetes. The first one even guarantees a cure in four days. These are the cures people bring to me, but these "cures" have one thing in common ... they are for type 2 diabetes, not type 1. With only 5% of the diabetes population suffering from type 1 diabetes, it is understandable that most of the information out there in the general population relates to type 2 diabetes, and the fact is the two diseases are completely different.

Can you believe we did nothing to cause our kid's diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is when the pancreas is producing insulin, but not enough to effectively keep up with the sugars in the blood stream. Poor diet, lack of exercise, an unhealthy lifestyle, and genetics all play a part in causing this insulin deficiency. Because the causes of the disease are sometimes created by the patient, the disease can sometimes (it's not a guarantee, mind you) be reversed by major lifestyle changes. This accounts for the "cures" that are out there relating mostly to diet.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. Something somewhere sometime caused the immune system to go haywire and start treating the beta cells in the pancreas like enemies of the state. The beta cell's one and only job is to produce a hormone:insulin. Since the cells are being systematically wiped out, no insulin. No insulin means the sugars in the body cannot be released from the blood stream to be burned as fuel. There is no cure for this.

Let me be perfectly clear ... there. is. NO. cure.


There are treatments, but that's all they are. If we stopped the treatments, our daughter would slip into a coma and die. The treatment for a type 1 diabetic is insulin delivered into body fat through injections. Some people can manage their type 2 diabetes with pills, but this is not an option for a type 1 diabetic. It is either multiple daily injections or an insulin pump, both which involve needles.

In type 1, exercise is a tool to help control blood sugar, but adding it to your routine doesn't cure the disease.

In type 1, a good diet is a tool to help control blood sugar, but adding it to your routine doesn't cure the disease.

So thank you, really and honestly, for trying to help with your cinnamon and your Paleo diet, but these are not cures for a type 1. I promise that when there is a cure, I will know long before you, and you can find me alternately screaming and pumping the air with my fist and on my knees sobbing with relief. That is a guarantee you can count on.

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