November is Diabetes Awareness Month.

JDRF Type 1 For A DayI try to do all I can through radio and the web to bring awareness to Team Diabetes and the greater cause, but my friend Kerri at Six Until Me asked that I take it a step further this year.

She asked me to sign up for the JDRF’s T1D4ADAY initiative where you go through what it’s like to be a Type 1 Diabetic for a day. It’s a very simple thing, really. You text the service and they send you texts back throughout the day with incidents that diabetics have to deal with.

On the surface, being a diabetic doesn’t sound like a big deal. We say things like “manage your blood sugar” and “watch your diet” as if they are simple tasks. When you say it like that they are simple, but when you live like a diabetic you realize the greater scope of what those statements mean.

Going for a run? Make sure you bring some glucose tabs with you and calculate what’s going to happen to the carbs in your body on the run. Hit a low in the middle of the night? Call your emergency contact to make sure they can look after you. Missed a few markers throughout the day? Don’t beat yourself up about it, just keep going and try to hit the next one.

We (non-diabetics) go on and off diets all the time. We eat salads and drink water for a week, and then binge on pizza and beer. No big deal. When you’re a diabetic, if you fall off that wagon it is a big deal. Each day you need to bring supplies with you. Every meal needs to be calculated for carbs, and the insulin levels in your body. A healthy pancreas normally does all the balancing automatically, when you’re diabetic you become the pancreas.

Here’s a video I made walking you through my day with Type 1 Diabetes:

t1d4aday textEven though I ‘thought’ I was done when I shot that video, my ‘day’ with Type 1 Diabetes wasn’t done. In the middle of the night I received 2 more texts. My blood sugar had inexplicably dropped, and an emergency contact had needed to be called.

Kerri tells me this is something that diabetics constantly live in fear of. Even sleep is not a reprieve from the disease, which shouldn’t be too surprising.

I still remember being stunned when I first met Kerri 5 years ago and she told me that she had a diabetes pump sewn into her wedding dress. “Really?” I said. “Yes,” she responded. “Diabetes doesn’t take a day off because you’re getting married.” Diabetes doesn’t take time off when you need to sleep either.

Yes, you and I can binge and fall off the wagon when it comes to our health regimens, but a diabetic can’t. Missing those numbers, or ignoring the warning signs becomes a serious health risk.

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. Are you aware of what nearly 1/3 of Canadians are living with?

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