Champion E.H. (11)
“This was one of the biggest challenges in the beginning, to completely change your routine of eating” E.H.
At age 14, he began feeling extremely tired and lethargic for weeks and then months on end. He could never drink enough water to quench his thirst and was also losing a great deal of weight, which caught the attention of his teachers. His father, who was a doctor, already had a suspicion that it could be diabetes based on the symptoms. This led to some anxiety and questions from the patient - for example: Can I live with this? Does it affect my lifespan? What does it mean for my future? After 2 or 3 months, his father got a store-bought urine glucose test kit, which showed positive for the presence of glucose (indicating possible diabetes). His father then arranged an appointment with a specialist. The specialist formally diagnosed him with Type 1 diabetes, which didn’t come as a shock. In fact, it was more of a relief to finally have a diagnosis.During this initial specialist visit, the doctor used educational exercises to demonstrate the nature of diabetes and blood sugar management. He measured the patient’s blood sugar levels, then had the patient drink lots of water, which then led to a significant decrease in blood sugar. This helped him understand the interplay of food, drinks, and blood sugar. He then gave the patient his first ever insulin injection, and told him to walk around outside and grab a small bite to eat while the insulin kicked in. Looking back, the patient said this first educational experience at the doctor was very productive, and gave him a much better sense of security about his disease.After the diagnosis, it took about six months to adapt to the new normal and become truly accustomed to daily insulin injections, which include both ‘fast’ insulin (accompanying a meal) and ‘slow’ insulin (twice daily in childhood, now once daily). The most challenging aspect in the early days was calculating the insulin dosage, based on the amount of carbohydrates in any given meal. He could no longer just grab something to eat without thought. Initially, this was a very exact process, where his mother would weigh a plate of pasta, for example, and calculate the corresponding insulin dose. Over time, this estimation of carb content became instinct, such that today, he can simply eyeball a meal and determine the correct dose. Today, exercise is one of the most important forms of disease management he practices. Without exercise, he says, he feels as though he loses control of the condition. His instinctive gauge of how much insulin corresponds to a given meal only works if he’s consistently exercising (and reducing his blood sugar levels, in the process).
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