Today is the 22nd anniversary of the day I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
Congratulations to me?!
As the years turn into decades that I’ve been living with this disease, the urge to “celebrate” the anniversary has diminished quite a bit. I still mark the day on the calendar; as does my mom. Yesterday, when I asked Dennis, “Do you know what tomorrow is? July 27th?” He promptly responded, “Your diabetes anniversary.” So, it’s marked in my little circle of family as a noteworthy day.
Diabetes is a unique disease in the way it infiltrates your life, yet is nearly invisible to other people. People with T1D have hundreds of decisions to make every day, from exercise and food to insulin doses and basal rates. With so much of our health in our hands, there’s also a ton of guilt and emotional upheaval that accompanies this disease. If my blood sugar is stable for a long period of time, I feel confident and happy. When I get a “bad” blood sugar reading, either low or high, I question what I did wrong and have to shake off feelings of inadequacy and frustration. Every blood sugar test (and I average about 10-12 per day) is an opportunity to feel up or down.
Lately I’ve been pretty excited about my blood sugar control, thanks to a new medication I just started. It’s called Invokana and it’s actually a relatively new Type 2 drug. My endocrinologist has started to prescribe it for a few of his T1D patients. It’s a pretty amazing drug! It works on the kidneys by blocking a receptor that tells the kidneys to release glucose into the bloodstream. Apparently our kidneys are efficient at removing glucose from our food before it’s released into the blood. This blocker tells the kidneys not to release so much glucose and instead it gets eliminated with the patient’s urine; therefore there’s less glucose in the blood!
After starting the Invokana, I lowered the basal rate on my pump only a tiny fraction of a unit per hour. The basal rate is the small amount of insulin the pump delivers all throughout the day. This insulin covers the glucose that the liver releases into the blood, so this drug doesn’t impact that function of blood glucose.
The real difference has been in the amount of insulin I need for meals. I was able to increase my insulin to carb ratio by about 30%. So, instead of giving myself 1 unit of insulin for every 14-15 grams of carbohydrate, it’s now a 1:20 – 22 ratio. But, even more exciting is how stable my blood sugar is after meals, in between meals, while exercising, and overnight… basically all the time!
This new medication has been very, very exciting. Living with a chronic illness that demands attention frequently throughout the day, you come to rely on the medications and devices that provide you the information you need to make good decisions. I love my glucose meter right now – it takes very little blood and looks like an iPod! My insulin pump is great – so reliable and user friendly. It may seem silly to be happy and excited about a new medication, but that’s life with diabetes. There’s lots to be frustrated about, so when you find something that makes managing your blood sugar easier, it’s just awesome!
On my 22nd anniversary of living with diabetes, I’m so thankful to be living in a day and age where we have technology and drugs to help us live a full life.