Editorial: Dealing with Diabetes

Trent Ernst, Editor


This is diabetes awareness month in Canada, and it’s something that’s resonating really hard here at the Tumbler Ridge News right now.

As we’ve discussed previously, about this time last year, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is where your pancreas does not or cannot produce enough insulin, or the body is unable to use the insulin it makes.

For a lot of people, it is the former. My pocket description of Type 2 has been “I’ve got too much body for my body to handle.”

Talking to Charles at the clinic (not now, as he’s in South Africa. Back when he was still about), he says that Type 2 is becoming an epidemic here. Around about the same time I was diagnosed, a half a dozen people were also diagnosed in Tumbler Ridge alone.

One of the biggest issues with type 2 is that it isn’t just a disease in and of itself, but it often develops side by side, and causes complications with cardiovascular disease as well.

Ten years ago, it was that the number of people with diabetes would grow to grow to 380 million by 2025. We’ve already hit that number, and they estimate another 175 million people are living with undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.

85 percent of people with diabetes are dealing with type 2.

Severe type 2 diabetes may require insulin, but it can often be controlled by eating right and exercising. Medication is also sometimes used.

While type 2 is a disease, it is, in most cases, influenced by lifestyle. People that are overweight have a far greater chance of getting type 2 diabetes.

Since being diagnosed, I’ve been working hard to clean up my fitness act, as it were, changing my diet and increasing the amount of exercise I do to try and lose some weight, reducing the amount of work that my pancreas has to do.

It seems to have worked; the last time I checked my blood sugar levels, they were down around 5.6, which is almost heading off the scale the other way.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that Loraine, our publisher, has been away for four months now, dealing with complications due to type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is what most people imagine when they think about diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce any insulin.

Unlike type 2 diabetes, which is often (though not always) linked with being overweight, the cause of type 1 diabetes is not known.

It is not caused, as some have proposed,  by eating too much sugar, nor is it preventable, like type 2.

As a result, sugar builds up in the blood instead of being used as energy.

About five to 10 per cent of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes generally develops in childhood or adolescence, but can develop in later life.

The current thinking, according to the Canadian Diabetes Association, is that type 1 diabetes occurs when the body’s immune system destroys the cells that make insulin.

People with type 1 are required to take insulin for the rest of their life.

We think that’s the extent of it, but having high blood sugar can cause diabetes-related complications, like chronic kidney disease, foot problems, non-traumatic lower limb (leg, foot, toe, etc.) amputation, eye disease (retinopathy) that can lead to blindness, heart attack, stroke, anxiety, nerve damage, and erectile dysfunction (for all you guys).

In case you missed the last update, For the last couple of years, Loraine has been struggling with circulation issues due to diabetes, and she went to the hospital for an operation was supposed to help, but it didn’t, and a few days after her operation, they discovered her leg was going gangrenous, and they removed her left leg below the knee.

For the next few issues, we’re going to be running stories from the Canadian Diabetes Association. We’re also encouraging you to go talk to your doctor and get yourself checked out for type 2 diabetes. The good news is type 2 is highly treatable with exercise, better eating habits medicine and, in some cases, insulin.