Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is an illness that affects more than a million people in the U-S. The insulin-dependent auto-immune disease can affect both children and adults and has nothing to do with a person's diet or lifestyle. It can strike at any time.
T1D is different than the more well-known Type 2 Diabetes. T1D disrupts the body's production of insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. I have lived with T1D for nearly 35 years. It requires 24/7 management. If I don't properly control my sugar levels, it can lead to dire consequences, even death. When my blood sugars are low: I can't concentrate, I grow weak, and I could go into a seizure. If my blood sugars are high: I will suffer chronic damage to my heart, eyes, kidneys, feet, etc.
The illness can be frustrating and unpredictable, especially for children (and their parents).
When I was a kid, I would suffer reactions from low blood sugar levels. I would shake, scream, and fall in-and-out of consciousness. My parents would wake up every night to ensure my levels were at a safe level.
Now it's important to note: With proper management, someone with T1D can live a long, healthy life.
The medical advancements (thanks in part to funds raised by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) continue to enhance the lives of those with T1D. Aside from becoming a commercial pilot or an astronaut, I can do just about anything.
"Type 1 Diabetics are living longer, healthier lives due to the wonderful things that happening with technology and advancements in therapies," said Tanya Bissen, executive director of the JDRF southeastern Wisconsin chapter.
JDRF focuses on a cure, prevention, and improving technology that will allow those with T1D to live long and healthy lives. That's why I'm so excited to be part of our next WTMJ Cares initiative, presented by Watry and Premier. WTMJ will raise awareness and funds for the JDRF One Walk on September 14th.
Please join us on Saturday, September 14th as we fight for a cure for T1D!
-Erik Bilstad, Newsradio 620 WTMJ Executive Producer