I really do not know how I completed practice that day. I assume that if I had been aware of the extremity of my blood sugar, I would have stopped. I figured “It’s hot out” and “I didn’t drink enough water today, so I’m just a little bit dehydrated” or “I didn’t sleep enough last night”. It was close to the day of an important race, so I was determined to push through. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the workout was over, and my coach told my teammates and me to head inside to drink water and cool off. As I walked into the locker room, my stomach was cramping, my head was pounding, and I was so dizzy that I could barely walk straight. By that point, I knew it was long overdue; time to check my blood sugar....488…with medium ketones. Time to go home.
After immediately administering an injection of the correct dosage of insulin, hydrating, and resting, my blood sugar dropped to about my normal range of about 120. However, my family and I soon discovered that my blood sugar had skyrocketed to such an extremely high number, even while I was exercising, because I was sick! My throat was burning, my stomach was aching, and my body was weak. I was sick in bed for 2 days. It was hard to control my blood sugar during this time even though I kept a close watch on it. My rapidly fluctuating numbers did not help me feel better at all, but once I started to heal, so did my blood sugars. In a sense my blood sugars were a result of me not feeling well, yet they also contributed to my sickness once they went high enough.
In recent years, many innovations and advances have been made for people with type one diabetes. However, perhaps the most promising is the Artificial Pancreas. Although the name may be deceiving it is not an actual “artificial pancreas”, but it practically could be. Similar to an insulin pump, it consists of devices worn 24/7 that communicate with each other to continuously monitor and control your blood sugar (this is called a closed loop system). They alert you when your numbers are dangerously rising or falling and deliver insulin or glucose (through the hormone glucagon) appropriately. Throughout the years, this idea has almost turned into reality. The artificial pancreas is no longer only diagrams. It is finally being funded for testing on patients and an image of what the final product may look like has been released. (In fact, most of the international core team for Pen Pals United met when we rallied Congress for funding for the artificial pancreas!) Someone wearing an artificial pancreas wouldn’t have to manually deliver insulin, check their blood sugar, or treat low blood sugars as often, because the artificial pancreas would do everything for them automatically! Of course, it is not a cure, but it is pretty close! Wearing one would almost feel like you don’t have diabetes!
Imagine sticking your face into a bowl of double chocolate creamy ice cream with rainbow sprinkles and hot fudge over freshly warmed, crispy apple pie with whipped cream and a cherry to top it all off and not giving yourself insulin afterwards, but having it done automatically. Imagine going to the movies with friends and not bringing your bag of supplies along. Imagine you're at practice, unaware that you are getting sick, and your artificial pancreas corrects your blood sugar without you even knowing it, so you don’t get sick after all.
Hello everyone! I'm Hannah! I'm 16 years old and have been living a normal life with type 1 diabetes for 10 years! I'm so excited to share the journey of Penpals United with you through our blog!