Saarennainen talks about her life with type I diabetes

Laura Shiliday

MANITOULIN – This month celebrates a Canadian discovery that has saved the lives of thousands of Canadians. It was 100 years since Sunday, when researchers at the University of Toronto, Dr. Frederick Banting and Charles Best, discovered insulin and abolished the death penalty, which was diabetes. November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and The Expositor met Laura Shiliday of Manitoulin to discuss what her life is like after being diagnosed with type I diabetes.

“This is a month to reflect on what really is a hidden epidemic in Canada, globally and especially in indigenous communities,” Ms Shiliday said. “We are seeing an increase in the number of type II, but we are also seeing a number of people who have been diagnosed with type I, which is not yet understood.”

Type I diabetes was formerly called childhood or adolescent diabetes, but this designation is misleading, Shilliday explains. He himself was diagnosed with type I diabetes as an adult.

He noted that the number of people with diabetes is on the rise both in Canada and around the world. “Here in Canada, more than three million people have diabetes: that’s just over nine percent of our total population. Unfortunately, that number is expected to grow. Diabetes Canada estimates that by 2025, five million people, or 12 percent of Canada’s population, will have diabetes. The World Health Organization estimates that the prevalence of diabetes in people over the age of 18 rose from 4.7 percent in 1980 to 8.5 percent in 2014.

Diabetes is usually an invisible disease, but its effects can be devastating if left untreated. Amputations, kidney failure, and death can be caused by high levels of high blood sugar (glucose) over a long period of time.

“The first thing I noticed was that I was incredibly thirsty,” Ms Shiliday said. He described hiking with friends at Strawberry Point. “I had packed my pockets with chocolate bars and I had to stop to rest often,” he said. “I had never remembered being so thirsty. I was exhausted, I started eating chocolate bars to try to increase my energy. ”

Chocolate only added to his thirst – a small miracle when you think that diabetes is basically a lack of insulin in your body, which prevents your body from converting sugar into energy.

Type I diabetes usually develops in childhood, adolescence, or early adulthood, hence the nickname of its adolescent diabetes. About 10 percent of diabetics have type I. In type I diabetes, the body produces very little or no insulin. Type II diabetes is the most common form of diabetes (90 percent) and usually occurs in adults, but children can also get sick. In type 2 diabetes, the body does not make enough insulin or is unable to use it properly.

The exact cause of type I diabetes is not yet known. However, if a family member (parent, sibling) suffers from type I diabetes, the risk increases slightly. “I haven’t had diabetes in my family,” Miss Shiliday said, so it’s not a matter of course. Experts suggest that adults over the age of 40 should be tested for type II diabetes every three years. Anyone with one or more risk factors should be tested more often, for example, a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes; overweight, especially if the weight is mostly around the abdomen; you have had gestational diabetes; giving birth to a baby weighing more than four pounds; high blood pressure or high cholesterol; diagnosed with sleep apnea; and / or belonging to a high-risk group: indigenous, African, Asian or Hispanic descent.

Ms Shilliday stresses that if you have any of the following symptoms, it is important to contact your doctor as soon as possible: unexplained tiredness and drowsiness; recurrent urination; increased thirst or hunger; unexplained weight change; blurred vision; recurrent or recurrent infections; tingling or numbness in the hands or feet and / or cuts and bruising that slowly heal. Symptoms of diabetes usually occur when blood sugar levels exceed the normal range. They can be present or absent when diabetes is diagnosed, and they can also occur when a person’s diabetes is not well controlled.

Diabetes is a progressive disease and there is no cure for it – that is bad news. The good news is that our understanding of diabetes and its treatment has made significant progress and that many of its debilitating effects can be prevented or reduced by simple lifestyle changes.

The lifestyle changes a person can make include education, so ask your doctor or pharmacist about your area’s diabetes education program so you can take responsibility for your health and learn as much about your condition as possible. Nutrition is a big factor because what a person eats can play an important role in regulating blood sugar levels.

Physical activity is incredibly important. Regular physical activity will help control your blood sugar levels, as well as help you lose weight and improve your overall fitness. The current recommendation is to get 150 minutes a week of aerobic exercise as well as twice a week resistance training. However, before you start a more intense walking exercise program, it is important to talk to your doctor.

Finally, don’t we all know this pandemic – in the days of stress. Take steps to better manage and learn to reduce stress levels in your daily life.

But in general, because diabetes is a progressive disease, even the most dedicated healthy lifestyles don’t fully fill the bill – and that’s why medication may come into question.

Type I diabetes is treated with insulin injections and a healthy lifestyle. Type II diabetes is treated with physical activity, a healthy diet, and in some cases regular diagnosis of blood sugar is important after the diagnosis of diabetes. Until recently, this was largely achieved by inserting test strips and a small finger, resulting in a small amount of blood to be tested. Ms Shiliday said, however, that she is not a big fan of the test strip route.

He points out that the tests only give you a snapshot of what your blood sugar is at the moment. “Your blood sugar may have been high or low for hours before and after you tested your level,” he said. What your blood sugar does over time can cause damage.

Ms. Shilliday gets a constant update on her level being through the monitor. “Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre flash glucose monitoring system is currently being replaced under the Ontario Drug Benefit program for all eligible Ontario residents who suffer from diabetes and use insulin,” he points out.

“FreeStyle Libre 2 can be used with a free application designed for use with FreeStyle Libre 2 sensors, making it easy to monitor glucose data with a compatible smartphone.”

After all, glucose and blood sugar levels are affected by 42 factors, and despite 100 years since Banting and Best’s insulin invention, the science behind diabetes is still under development, so it’s important to work with your doctor to find the right way to treat your diabetes.

Finally, while type II diabetes is related to lifestyle and diet, Ms. Shilliday is unshakable. “It’s no one’s fault,” he said. We live in a society that encourages consumption and even over-consumption, he points out. “Colonialism has affected our systems and changed the diet of indigenous peoples for the worse.”

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