No one in my family is diabetic. None of my direct friends is diabetic. So why do I support Team Diabetes?
I’ll be honest, it was the lure of exotic travel and completing marathons in places like Easter Island, Iceland and Rio de Janeiro that got me interested in the beginning, then I started to learn more about the disease and the people living with it.
I met Kerri Morrone Sparling through Twitter. She’s a type 1 diabetic and works for some diabetes organizations in the US. Reading her blog about living with diabetes has opened my eyes to the complicated lives diabetics must lead.
There was a line for lunch. Four cashiers were working furiously, but the low was creeping up just as fast and my legs were beginning to buckle.
“I need orange juice. I’m diabetic and having a low blood sugar. Can you please help me as quickly as you can?” I stood there in my work clothes and my coat, with my grown-up purse over my arm and started to cry because I couldn’t function properly and I was becoming more and more confused. Not sobbing, not whining, not outwardly breaking down, but big tears rolled out of my eyes without permission and headed for my jawline.
The boy behind the counter was taken aback. “Stay here. Stand here. I’ll be right back. Don’t move.” He ran and returned with a glass of juice. I moved toward him like goldfish in a pond going for crumbs of bread.
He watched as I drank the entire glass without stopping, knowing that people in line were watching me and staring and I couldn’t bring myself to care.
“You sure you’re okay? Do you want to sit for a minute?” A guy waiting in line mumbled something about ‘flirting on your own time.’ CounterBoy raised an eyebrow. “Sir, this is a medical emergency. I just saved her life. Your sandwich? Little less important at the moment, okay?”
Diabetes is caused when your pancreas stops managing your blood sugar properly through the production of insulin. That can then lead to a littany of other problems in your body from nerve damage to heart disease to blindness.
There are three main types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes, usually diagnosed in children and adolescents, occurs when the pancreas is unable to produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that ensures body energy needs are met. Approximately 10 per cent of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.
The remaining 90 per cent have type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body does not effectively use the insulin that is produced. Type 2 diabetes usually develops in adulthood, although increasing numbers of children in high-risk populations are being diagnosed.
Gestational diabetes, is a temporary condition that occurs during pregnancy. It affects approximately 3.7 per cent of all pregnancies (in the non-Aboriginal population) and 8 – 18 per cent of all pregnancies (in the Aboriginal population), and involves an increased risk of developing diabetes for both mother and child.
Getting to know Kerri through the internet has given the cause a personal touch for me. Having children has made me realize that I haven’t yet escaped the touch of diabetes. Kerri didn’t discover it until she was 6, my son is only 2. Jen is pregnant with our second child, so she could be at risk, and I’m a man – the highest risk group for contracting Type 2 diabetes.
Research from the UK found that among 35-54 Britons, Type 2 diabetic men outnumbered Type 2 diabetic women by nearly 2-1. The causes? Poor diet and a lazy lifestyle, which is why I’m on Team Diabetes. The cause is now personal.
Buzz Bishop is the cohost of The Rush on Virgin Radio Vancouver and an ambassador for Team Diabetes. He has run marathons in Iceland and Easter Island and is next headed with Team Diabetes to Rio in June 2010. Follow Buzz on twitter.