It's a very well known fact that support from family & friends is one of the very best ways to deal with a universe that takes a cr@p on your head. My family has never kept our challenges a secret, and if I can use this as a way to increase awareness, I'll gladly use it. So - a little background on the last 14 years...
My daughter has Type 1 Diabetes. She was diagnosed when she was 20 months old and she is now 16 years old. Type 1 Diabetes (this used to be known as "juvenile diabetes") is a chronic, progressive and (currently) incurable condition. It is NOT the same as Type 2 Diabetes (formerly known as "adult diabetes"). Thanks to Wilford Brimley, Type 2 Diabetes is what the vast majority of people think of when they hear the word "Diabetes". Here's the difference...
Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease. One day, your own body's immune system loses all logical & rational thought, and decides that the insulin producing cells in your pancreas are a foreign body that Must Be Destroyed. Unfortunately, your immune system is very, very good as destroying invaders - and faster than you can say "Bob's your Uncle", your pancreas no longer has ANY insulin producing cells. Those cells CANNOT be regenerated, once they are gone, they are gone FOREVER. Without the ability to produce insulin, you are seriously screwed. All you can do is replace the insulin yourself. However, there is no ability to take insulin orally. Stomach acid destroys insulin. You can ONLY inject insulin. So you have to give yourself injections several times a day. BUT... Too much insulin is ALSO bad and very dangerous. You have to carefully control the amount of insulin in your body, and the amount you need varies based on a couple of dozen interrelated variables, eg, food, exercise, mood, stress, temperature, age, hormones, sleep, etc, etc. You have to poke your finger to get a drop of blood 4-6 times per day, test your blood glucose level, and then administer the insulin. There are insulin pumps that are worn continuously and are programmed to give different amounts of insulin throughout the day - but you still have to adjust manually based on what you eat, etc. OK - that's Type 1. Many Type 1 patients are first diagnosed between the ages of 9-15, which is where the term "juvenile diabetes" came from. That's not always true - and it can appear in both very young babies and older adults.
Type 2 Diabetes is a completely different animal. It is NOT an autoimmune disease. With Type 2, your pancreas can still produce insulin, however your body's ability to properly control the amount of insulin produced has started to go wacky. In addition, you might have become "insulin resistant", meaning that even though your body is producing insulin, your body isn't capable of using it correctly. In many cases, Type 2 Diabetes CAN be controlled, especially if it is caught early enough. Losing weight, modifying diet, taking drugs & exercising more can help your body regulate and use the insulin you can still produce. If you can't control your Type 2 Diabetes, then you may ultimately require insulin injections just like a Type 1.
Recently, there has also been research that indicates there is a third type of Diabetes, unofficially called "Type 1.5 Diabetes", more properly known as "Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults" (LADA). This has some characteristics of both Type 1 & 2. I don't know much about Type 1.5 (but I'm trying to learn more).
OK - so - my daughter has had Type 1 for 14 years. She wears the latest in insulin pump and wearable blood glucose monitor technology. The last 14 years were harder than I could have ever imagined. For a Type 1, getting the flu is not just staying home from school for a couple of days - it's a life-threatening event that can cause dehydration, horrible low or high blood glucose levels, fainting, seizures and a hospital visit. Or, it might just mean staying home from school for a couple of days. But, at 16, she's made it through the good & bad and she is doing great. She manages all of her own diabetes care, and she does it better than we every could - which is absolutely as it should be - it's her body.
This brings us to the present, or to be more precise, last Friday night. My daughter has an older brother. My son is 22 years old. On Friday, he was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes - 14 years after his sister. After 14 years of watching his sister survive all the trials and challenges of Type 1 Diabetes, he now must face all of this too.
I'm going to end the story here. I could talk much more about my son, diabetes, depression, anger, grief, etc, etc - but this is enough catharsis for one posting...
I have broad shoulders for you; the family. And I'm with y'all every step of the way.