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Diabetes Awareness

What is Diabetes?

There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes means that your PANCREAS does not make enough INSULIN.

Type 1 diabetes is the most common cause of diabetes in children and young people. Type 1 diabetes is due to a severe deficiency of insulin and is treated with regular insulin injections, a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise.

Type 2 Diabetes is becoming increasingly common in younger people due to the lack of physical activity and being overweight although neither was the case with our story reflected here. The treatment is either managed through diet and exercise, and sometimes tablets and/or insulin injections.

Type 1 Diabetes our story

When our Grandson Anthony was 3 on a holiday to Haven in Ayrshire he became very ill, the symptoms were a mixture of becoming very thirsty, tiredness and a lack of energy to laboured breathing and weight loss, together with his mother we assumed this was some kind of bug but after a couple of days it became apparent that we should attend the A&E department at the nearest hospital. Upon being seen by the doctors they were quick to diagnose diabetes and immediately started treatment. As you can image this was very distressing and extremely worrying thinking the worst outcome. Anthony was always running about and the correct build for his height but this could not be prevented.

We were told by the doctors that no one was to blame and nothing could have stopped it happening, they did tell us that he had very high blood sugar and too many Keytones. Keytones (pronounced key-tones) are produced when your body gets energy by breaking down fat instead of sugar. Although we did not fully understand we now know the problem is referred to as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). The result was Anthony was transferred to Crosshouse Hospital in Ayrshire where he remained there for many days with his mother to recover and begin treatment for type 1 diabetes, a condition he will have for the rest of his life.

As time progressed our anxiety and worry was set at ease as we began to learn more and understand about diabetes especially when we were told Anthony would live a near normal life other the need to check blood everyday and receive insulin on a regular basis while maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet. (Date: Published July 2010)

Treatment - Diabetic information

At home Anthony now has a blood testing kit, Insulin pens, Keytone monitor and a healthy supply of testing strips and insulin all to keep an eye on blood glucose levels. Along with a supply of literature we have had to learn about Hypoglycaemia 'Hypo'(Low Blood Sugar) and Hyperglycaemia (High Blood Sugar) and how to prevent them and what needs to be done when they get out of control.

He now receives four injections a day using his insulin pen and also has his fingers jabbed throughout the day to check his blood. the blood test alone is not much of a problem but as you can imagine having insulin injections can be very stressful for him and also painful especially four times a days to the point that you wish you could take away or reduce the pain and stress as no child should have to endure this. We have learnt there is a better way that can help change children's & adults lives who have to receive insulin on a daily basis and be spared multiple injections.

Accu-Chek pump therapy

The Accu-Chek Combo insulin pump system would make such a difference to people with type 1 diabetes but especially by helping children cope with diabetes and reducing daily injections down to one every few days. We have now spent so much time looking into this product and reading forums etc that all say it is life changing. This may not be the only insulin pump available but it is one we know about that works well. So what's the problem - why not buy one today? These pumps cost in the region of £2500 and incur additional annual costs of around £1500. Our local health board Scottish Borders NHS told us that even if we buy the insulin pump ourselves they also need to supply additional care to help administer and monitor this treatment and at the moment that is not an option.

Just imagine how life changing this treatment would be for children who have type 1 diabetes and at very least spare children of all ages the pain of daily injections, especially when they panic or fear meal times when insulin is given and create a phobia simply because they cannot stand the pain with multiple needle marks and soar legs and arms from regular injections.

Raise awareness

We have produced this article including links and points of interest to help people understand diabetes and indeed what to look for if you think someone has diabetes. We want to raise awareness about the problems diabetes causes and how friends and relatives can help learn more and also raise awareness themselves. Every time Anthony and his mum visit the consultant she will always raise the question of an insulin pump, children should not have to suffer if there is a better alternative. Money is an issue but most parents and relatives would buy this treatment until such a time that a cure can be found. For more information about diabetes in the Scottish Borders visit NHS Borders Diabetes Network, further links can be found on this page to support groups and information.

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