Living with diabetes
Updated: Jul 25, 2022
...oh no, it's not about me personally, I don't have diabetes (and am doing a lot to try and prevent that happening given that I do enjoy many sweet and savoury treats, my dad has Type 2, and my mum had Type 1 prior to her passing...with diabetes related complications (severe pneumonia) back in 2018.) But to some extent I "live with it" or at least can can see the effects on others.
It's National Diabetes Awareness Month so I thought I'd share my awareness...
Most people hate it when I compare my dog to their children...I'm going to compare her to my dad. In fact his nephrology clinic nurse summed it up well when she said "Oh my good ness, you've just seen this with your dad, and now your dog is the same..." ...my dad probably had the edge when Brandy visited with "Hello Brandy, we're the same...we're both blind and diabetic".
So let's rewind a little. I don't think I lived with my mum's diabetes - she had that fully under control so it had little effect on me. But I know she had to have regular check ups on insulin dosage, extra appointments with chiropody, and where she already struggled with bruising easily, but diabetics don't heal quite as fast as those without the disease. Her insulin was kept in the fridge, and she had to inject regularly with meals...for her having a mild hypo would make her distracted, unfocused, she'd struggle to walk, so eating times and to some extent amounts had to be regular. While I know her cause of death was pneumonia, her report included "diabetes".
My dad can manage diabetes to some extent in that he's on a very low dosage of long acting insulin and only needs to inject once a day. However, diabetes simply puts him in the susceptibility bracket for viruses. Thankfully when he caught covid (while in hospital for his kidneys - I'll get to that), his immune system seemed to cope.
Diabetes also affects the "filters" of the kidney, which can, as well as "Normal" degeneration, can result in CKD (Chronic Kidney disease) - and unmanaged diabetes (which even one too many treats can sometimes result in) can also have an effect. While my dad has managed diabetes, his kidneys have taken the brunt, and he has recently had a fistula made for haemodialysis. When this is matured, he will then begin the regular process of blood filtration.
He is also monitored - daily blood pressure, and blood sugar checks, as well as monthly blood tests, and of course needs to watch his diet. This alone can be intrusive to one's day to day basis, but he's also blind. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause damage to the retina, and so he needs assistance for all his appointments...I am able to take him monthly, thankfully he has a lot of support around him.
And let's move onto my pup...within 3 weeks of our noticing she was drinking excessive amounts of water, and starting her on insulin (this needs to be done carefully because the risk of death from hypoglycaemia in dogs is great...as they simply can't tell you they feel bad), she also went blind.
It really IS true that dogs are super-adaptable...and despite my over-concern, she appears to have created a mind-map of the house, my husband built her a "dog ramp" so she can avoid the steps down from the garden, and she even knows her path for our daily walks.
But we are also watching her diet (sensitive tummy/low fat/diabetic and natural mixes only - no treats), and finally (now around 8 months on) have found a dosage which suits her -(she's injected at 12 hour intervals on the dot, when she is fed, which also means my husband and I don't get out much together unless it's late...but the pandemic has improved the available takeaways, we're into our matinee performances, and it's great to be able to have people round.)
The thing is, what alerted us to needing to up her dosage (as she'd been doing ok behaviourally) was the frequency with which she was getting cystitis (and I know what that's like!) - because the sugar in her urine meant a comfortable breeding ground for bacteria, and worse still, the vet expressed his concerns about being able to fully treat the infection while the amount of sugar was still high. Yesterday - she got the all clear from infection, and her "freestyle blood sugar monitor" is giving really healthy curves.
I'm not explaining this in technical terms - I'm not a medical doctor...but I wanted to give an insight into how living with anything can have an impact on the whole family. It's not something to regret nor be sad about - in fact as I write this I am ever more grateful for all the wonders of modern medicine and technology which means that we ARE able to manage these diseases.
To find out more about diabetes:
Diabetes care plan | Diabetes UK
For kidney related conditions:
Diabetes and pets:
Blog - PetTest by Advocate (shoppettest.com) (American site, but the best for information)