November 14th marks World Diabetes Day, a day that is very close to my heart as I have lived with Type 1 diabetes since 1996. It is a day of raising global awareness of diabetes, and bringing both those who suffer with it and their families together. You may have seen certain landmarks lit up in blue on this day over the years and that is for one reason alone – world diabetes day.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, caused when the immune system attacks the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. Without insulin, the body cannot process the glucose in the blood – when many type 1’s are diagnosed they are in something called diabetic ketoacidosis. This is when the body starts burning fat instead of glucose to get its energy, and it ends up turning the blood very acidic. Sadly this can be fatal.
I remember when I was diagnosed I had been unwell for a very long time. It all culminated with me projectile vomiting over my classmates while we were watching Oliver Twist, and being rushed to the hospital where I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Now here I am almost 25 years later – I’ve seen so many changes in diabetes technology and treatment. But the one thing that has stayed the same is…
And it was Frederick Banting who, along with his colleague, who discovered insulin and in 1922, they managed to sucessfully treat a number of patients with their new discovery. Because of them, people with type 1 diabetes no longer had to think of the condition as a death sentence. And I’m forever grateful to them.
So why is World Diabetes Day on February 14th? Because it’s Frederick Banting’s birthday!
Happy Birthday, Mr Banting. And thank you, from all of us insulin dependent diabetics!