Monday, 30 November 2009

The Diabetics of Dingly Dell

Diabetes can be a pretty invisible disease. Generally, people won’t be aware that you have it unless they happen to see you injecting, or testing, or if you have some outward sign such as one of the many complications of diabetes – eye or kidney problems perhaps, or maybe even and amputated limb. At one time diabetics were easy to spot, particularly Type 1 where there is no insulin production. Such people quickly became emaciated, unable to use the energy from their food so their bodies would start processing fat and muscle. Without insulin the levels of ketones would quickly start to rise to dangerous levels leading to coma and death.

The discovery of insulin changed things hugely, and was widely supposed to be a cure. Indeed, the results of administering it were astonishing – people literally ‘came back from the dead’. However, as knowledge of the disease and its treatment became more sophisticated, the full complexity of just what a pancreas achieves for a healthy human being became apparent. It’s not just a case of ‘inject and go’, there are a myriad of factors that need to be considered in calculating each dose, several times each and every day – type and quantity of food, temperature, activity levels, illness, age, stress – the list goes on and on – if the worst effects of the disease are to be minimised.

And then, of course, sometimes it just does not respond as you expect, as it has a hundred times before when you were in the exact same situation, with the same meal, same time of day, after your run in the spring sunshine. This unpredictability can be terribly stressful (which in turn can send levels rocketing!), but most of the time most diabetics will keep it hidden from view. Unless you have diabetes, it is very difficult to understand how it feels to have no escape from this constant low-level fear and frustration. There are worse things to endure in life, it is true, but just because someone appears fit and healthy don’t assume they have it easy.

There’s a place that you’ve probably heard of,
But here’s something you may not know so well –
For amongst all the fairies and pixies you’ll find
The Diabetics of Dingly Dell!

They all appear perfectly normal,
And healthy and active and strong,
But if you think diabetes is easy,
Then think again please, ‘cos you’re wrong!

There once was a time down in Dingly
When prospects for diabetics were poor,
But the discovery of magical insulin
Was hailed all at once as a cure!

But insulin is only a treatment,
Diabetes cannot be ignored,
How much you inject requires deep intellect
If a long life’s to be the reward.

So if you should find yourself visiting
The denizens of Dingly Dell,
Consider the fairies and pixies and gnomes
Might be diabetic as well!

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