Friends are the family you get to choose. They're the people you can count on to make you laugh so hard that you fall to the ground with tears from your squinted eyes streaming down your face, grinning ear to ear while crutching a side stitch and belting your most sincere laugh. They're the people who will console and help you for hours as you sob, moan, and complain about your stress. They're the people you can turn to when you need somebody to drive you to your doctor's appointment because your car is broken and the bus isn't at the right time and it's too far away for you to walk to. You're friends are the people who you can turn to when your blood sugar is low, when you need carbohydrates, or when you are feeling stressed that you have diabetes. You're friends are there through thick and thin, and they are, besides you, your doctor, and your family, the most important people in helping you deal with and lead a normal, happy, healthy life with type one diabetes.
The recent support group (which took place over oovoo video call early Sunday morning on August 26, 2012 in India and late Saturday evening on August 25, 2012 in America) focused around how friends are so important in helping to control diabetes. Jack was unable to attend the meeting, as he was attending his college orientation. (Yep! He's going away to college and basically handling diabetes on his own while diving into a a new and exciting college lifestyle!) Myself, Alex, Dr. Santosh Gupta, the crowd of Haridwar, India, as well as newcomers Jake, Diana, Riley, Trevor, and guests in CMC Vellore were excited to be at the anticipated monthly meeting.
The meeting began with some light conversation after introduction. Dr. Gupta asked some of the children about their diabetes. Many children had brought their friends with them, who said that diabetes does not limit their companions when questioned by Dr. Gupta. Dr.Gupta was able to get the children to express how diabetes does not stop their friends from doing anything, and doesn't make their friends any different. Alex then presented his impacting presentation on how to explain diabetes to friends and how friends can help with diabetes. Strategies on how to explain that you have diabetes to friends, coworkers, and family members were distributed to everyone at the meeting. These strategies and Alex's presentation helped to give confidence and to build self-esteem for all of the guests, both diabetic and non-diabetic. Alex continued to explain how diabetes doesn't make anybody any different, and that you can do anything you desire with diabetes. He told friends who were attending that they can help their friends with diabetes by having a "Friendship Kit' where they can carry sugar and other supplies that their friends may need in an emergency! His presentation left a lasting impression on me, so I'm sure it impacted everyone over in India as well! Finally, guests in India asked us some questions. I hope that we were able to fully satisfy their curiosity! Next, everyone in America talked a little bit about themselves, including their various hobbies, sports, intrests, locations, how they handle diabetes, etc. Attendees included actresses, runners, lacrosse players, scholars, and so much more...all of whom did not allow diabetes to get in their way of accomplishing their goals and living a normal, happy, and healthy life! Our meeting then came to a close, and, until next time, we bid farewell.
Overall, we worked through the technical difficulties and held a successful meeting. But with the dedication, encouragement, and help of your friends, how can anything not be successful...especially somethings like a support group and handling the challenges of diabetes?!
Humans had lightning forever before they discovered it could be converted into useful electricity. The lightning was in front of them the whole time, but they didn't know how to utilize it. In fact, most inventions are composed of various materials and different objects and discoveries that have already been made. These old materials can be combined into something extraordinary, or can be thought of and used in a new and challenging way. MD, PhD Denise Faustman and colleagues at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School have used an 80-year old tuberculosis vaccine in a study that has displayed promising results that lead us a step closer toward finding a cure for diabetes.
Dr. Denise Faustman and her colleagues used the generic tuberculosis vaccine, bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), in a small study where the BCG vaccine showed that it was able to lead to the restoration of cells that produce insulin in the pancreas. Diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which means that the body destroys its own cells rather than invaders. Diabetes is caused when the body destroys islet cells in the pancreas...the cells that produce insulin. In the study, the T cells that destroy the islet cells were eliminated, while evidence showed that insulin was also reproduced again.
The theory in the study is that if all the T-Cells can be destroyed, the islet cells will be restored. Researchers used to think that once a patient had diabetes, all of their islet cells were destroyed, but this study has shown that islet cells can be preserved. The study began when Faustman used the BCG vaccine to try and raise the production of the compound tumor necrosis factor (TNF) in lab mice. TNF is one way that T-cells can be destroyed. The findings were successful when the T-Cells decreased and insulin was produced. The study was then performed on three humans, and two of them had a decrease in the amount of T-cells in their body and a rise in insulin production.
Although this study has shown promising results in small studies, many theories do not show failure until tested on larger scales, as the BCG vaccine will soon be. Great controversy has arisen based on this study's possible false hope. This study has opened many doors, and allowed scientists and researchers to think differently when searching for a cure for type 1 diabetes. Just like a bolt of lightning, this study has the possibility to turn something that seems so ordinary, into something amazing.
I entered the land of unfamiliar food, schedules, and exercises, and immediatley knew that managing my diabetes here would be a daunting task. Some may say I was working toward a goal that was simply unobtainable. However, I was determined that I would be able to control my type 1 diabetes while away for 4 weeks at sleep-away camp.
As I walked into the uncharted land, I knew that my mission had begun. I had to quickly scope out the kitchen, and a swift peek in the dining hall allowed me to evaluate this year's salad bar, cereal bar, and menu. French toast, pancakes, pizza, chinese food, and pasta. Are they purposely feeding us complete carbohydrates, or are they unaware that they have comprised a menu of carbohydrate loaded meals? I guess I'll be sticking to a lot of salad, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and egg salad. Canteen is a place in camp where you get 3 candies 2 times a week. For most campers, it is a dream come true, however, for those who have special interest in their health, it can have an added stress factor. When I go to canteen today, I think I'll get a water with healthy chips and maybe one small candy. Or maybe I will get one diet coke instead of regular pepsi. If I get a tiny candy today, I won't get one next time. I need to remember to check my blood sugar and deliver insulin before I eat everything. If my blood sugar is too high, I will not get anything unhealthy or anything with too many carbs. I can go to and enjoy canteen as long as I remember to stay healthy and eat everything in moderation!
Next, I should head over and spy on the list of activites. Basketball, jewelry making, canoeing, and woodshop. If I can find the right balance, I can participate in any activity I want!
Finally, I should check out this year's scheduele. Wake up time is promptly at 7:30, while bed time is at 22:30. I will have mandatory athletic training at exactly 9:00 and will swim every day at 16:00. Breakfast is 8:00, lunch is 13:00, and dinner at 18:00. Perfect! A set schedule will help me manage my insulin dosage and carbohydrate intake much better.
At camp, every day is a different challenge. With different activities every 50 minutes, various foods without nutrition labels, it was hard but possible to control my diabetes. I had to remember to adjust insulin and carbohydrate amounts based on my exercise and schedule, and I always had to keep a tight control of my diabetes and health care.
One evening activity at camp was a competition between all the bunks in my age division. We were given tomatoes, a pack of cookies, various fruits and vegetables, bread, peanut butter, jelly, mayonnaise, ketchup, salt, pepper, chocolate, and lettuce. We then had to make a 3 course meal out of these ingredients! My bunk made fruit salad in carved apples, vegetable burritos, and s'mores with cookie crumbles! Yum! However, it's not as enjoyable when you have to eat them and figure out the correct amount of carbohydrates! I had to figure out approximately how big each portion of food was. For example, I estimated I was consuming about 2 slices of bread, 1 apple, half of a banana, etc. From there, I had to figure out how many carbs I was eating, which I estimated based on how many carbs I recalled each item to be at home. Finally, I administered the correct amount of insulin based on my doctor's orders. Then, I bit in and enjoyed our delicious meal!
Another challenging activity I endured was the Camp Lip-Sync Contest. Although it was optional, and although I knew it would be difficult to control diabetes during it, I knew that it was possible to have acceptable blood sugars and participate. A Lip-Sync is when you dance to a song while mouthing the words to that song at the same time! It can be a lot of fun! My bunk and I had to make a dance to a song for two entire afternoons. Before we began dancing, I would check my blood sugar. I also checked my blood sugar half-way through and afterwards. It may not seem like it sometimes, but dancing can be very strenuous, and it can easily, quickly, and greatly affect your blood sugar if you are not careful. When we performed our lip-sync, I had to make sure that the excitement and dancing didn't lower my blood sugar too much, so I checked my blood sugar a lot before and after the performance as well! There were many circumstances such as this while I was at camp. For example playing in a volleyball tournament, playing basketball with friends, running around camp on a scavenger hunt, and many others provided obstacles, but I was able to overcome them all! I made sure that I did not let diabetes get in the way of having fun while preparing a lip-sync, or while participating in any other activity at camp!
Diabetes can be a hard disease to control, but my friends and I were able to have fun at camp, even while I had to give insulin or check my blood sugar! My bunkmates and I would try to guess my blood sugar before I tested, and whoever was the closest to the real number would win! We would all try to figure out the carbohydrates in everything together! Diabetes may be annoying sometimes, but it doesn't have to stop you from having a great summer!
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!