Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sierra's Story

It seems like yesterday when my whole life changed, but really I can’t even remember that time. It was March 25, 2000, that I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I was four years old and the only thing I can remember from the whole experience is the hospital and shots! A lot of shots. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have to worry about my blood sugar or what I was eating and I can’t ever remember what it was like to not have a needle with me 24/7. So here I am today, 15 years old, and all I know is that I have had diabetes my whole life, or so it seems.

I am very lucky, I have done both shots and worn an insulin pump. An insulin pump does not take away the 10-15 finger pokes I do everyday, but it takes away 3-5 shots a day. It works really well and I am grateful for modern technology. Shots are a little more stressful, you have to give yourself insulin every time you eat and then at bed and do all the finger pokes to check your levels. The pump, insulin, and injections are great; however, they are not a cure. I worry about heart and kidney disease, blindness, nerve damage, and amputation. More than that my family and I worry that my blood sugar might go low and I will have a seizure or that my blood sugar might go high and I could slip into a coma. I spend more time in the Doctor’s office than the average teenager, having tests done, making sure I am in good health (because I get sick more often than others and stay sick for longer periods of time) and changing my daily regimen as I grow and get older. I am thankful to Dr. Swinyard who has taken care of me since that Saturday morning when I was taken to the hospital with my diagnosis.

Diabetes is a chronic, debilitating disease affecting every organ system. There are two major types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which a person's pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. Staggering statistics show that nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes (8.3 percent of the population) and in the U.S., a new case of diabetes is diagnosed every 30 seconds; more than 1.9 million people are diagnosed each year.

Diabetes kills one American every three minutes and is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Life expectancy for people with diabetes has historically been shortened by an average of seven to 10 years, and the risk of death for people with diabetes is about double that of people of similar age without diabetes.

I am part of that statistic and your support will enable a better future for myself and others living with this disease. I watch others get diagnosed and I watch families go through what my family has gone through and would love to find a cure for diabetes. THANK YOU for taking the time to learn more about Type 1 diabetes and the millions of people it effects each year.