Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Blood Sugar Issues Without Type 1 or Type 2

Did you know that those of us with Diabetes aren't the only ones who need test kits, and in some cases pumps, and insulin?

Little disclaimer: I am not a medical professional of any kind, and these are things I've learned from my friends fighting other diseases. If something here is not perfectly accurate, this is why, but I tried my best. I also didn't include Gestational Diabetes as this is something that I think most people are more familiar with. Happy reading!

The more people I met in the chronic illness community, the more I learned about this. Firstly, I met several friends over Instagram who had something called Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes. Cystic Fibrosis is a disease where thick, sticky mucus accumulates in the lungs and causes breathing difficulties. This turns into a cycle of infection and inflammation, which can damage the tissue of the lungs.

Most people think that Cystic Fibrosis is only a lung disease, but what they don't know is that it can also affect the digestive system. Mostly, the pancreas.  The sticky mucus I was talking about above can accumulate and block important ducts in the pancreas. These are ducts that secrete enzymes that help digest food, which is why some people with CF struggle with nutrition. And now we get to the cause of Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes. The thick mucus causes scarring of the pancreas, and the scarring prevents the pancreas from creating normal amounts of insulin. So like people with Type 1, they become insulin deficient. In my opinion, my friends with CFRD seem a lot like us with Type 1 when it comes to Diabetes care. A friend of mine also informed me that insulin absorption is also affected by the rate at which they get infections. The more their Cystic Fibrosis is acting up, the higher their BGs are so there's a need to adjust their insulin dosage.

A couple of years ago I was having a test done and the nurse told me she has Diabetes too. I asked her what type. And she proceeded to tell me a story about how she had a severe bout of pancreatitis and it caused her beta cells to stop functioning. I was mind blown, because I never knew that something like that could cause insulin dependence.

To add to that, I have many friends who deal with blood sugar problems due to their severe gastrointestinal issues, particularly digestive tract paralysis. Many of them require different kinds of feedings tubes, and some even require TPN, which is IV nutrition. Because of the paralysis in their digestive tract, food can take days to actually digest and just pile up. They deal with malabsorption and it wreaks havoc on their blood sugars. Due to the malabsorption and for some, constant vomiting, their BGs often go low. Those on TPN have to find a fine balance, and sometimes actually require insulin in their TPN because it can make their blood sugar go high. And for those on TPN, when their infusion stops, sometimes their BGs will suddenly drop. So like I said, it’s a fine balance and takes a lot of adjustments.

When I want to grab supplies, like Pump Peelz, for my non-T1D friends, and I tell my T1D friends why, they usually had no idea about all the other reasons people might need meters, glucose tabs, insulin, etc. So I thought I’d share this because, well… the more you know! Maybe you learned something new here and maybe you didn’t, but either way, thank you for taking the time to read.

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