I can’t help but feel that I am tugging the capes of the more seasoned diabetics when writing about my relatively short lived experiences – nobody likes a smartarse, do they? But, had I been diagnosed over 10 years ago, my arse would not be so smart. My diabetes is easily manageable because of the development of rapid acting insulin. I am a diabetic smartarse because of scientific smartarses.
Rapid insulin does exactly as it says on the veil: it rapidly enters the bloodstream and breaks down glucose that is released into the body from food. If a certain diabetic smartarse is able to calculate how much insulin to inject in relation to how much carbohydrate he consumes, he would be capable of sustaining his blood levels at near-normal levels for most of the time; greatly reducing the likelihood of future complications.
Before the implementation of rapid insulin, sugar levels ran higher for longer; complications such as deteriorated vision, liver and kidney damage, stroke, amputation, heart disease, nerve damage and trouble ‘getting it up’ were more common.
A few months after diagnosis, I attended a course at my local hospital on how to become a smartarse at manage diabetes in everyday life. A woman on the course was in her late 40’s and had been diabetic since her youth. She observed that what was being taught on the course was, at one time, the exact opposite to the way she managed her diabetes twenty years ago – before rapid insulin.
Back in the dark ages of glass syringes, regimes were more militaristic; one insulin injection lasted 12-24 hours. Meals had to be eaten at set times and carbohydrate counting was a required science. Unscheduled eating would cause sugar levels to rise, and there wasn’t an easy way to lower them. Diabetes, back then, was like treading an invisible, constantly-moving tightrope.
Diabetic control has been made easier today; thanks to scientific smartarses making rapid insulin possible. Diabetes is centered around our lives, now. I am not limited to how much I can eat, or how many rapid insulin shots I can inject myself with. If my glucose levels are high, I simply inject a corrective dose.
The risk of complications may be greatly reduced, but they have not been totally eradicated! Diabetes is, and always will be, a chronic condition that must be managed with great care and responsibility – it is a life partner that demands a certain degree of give-and-take.
With the relatively new introduction of the insulin pump and the positive progress being made by medical smartarses, there are some potentially life-changing developments on the horizon, like oral insulin pills, an artificial pancreas and the re-coding of beta cells that attack internal invaders (like replacement organs).
Who knows, maybe in 20 years from now people with diabetic symptoms may only require a course of tablets: ‘Remember, take two-a-day for three weeks, avoid cake, and you’ll be as fit as a fiddle in no time.’
Wouldn’t that be sweet!