How Sweet It Is: Diabetes

How Sweet It Is: Diabetes

Really, it's not that bad.

I’d like to start out by saying (or writing, whatever) that I never planned on writing about diabetes. Not because it’s too difficult, too personal or anything like that. I just simply thought there were better things to write about. But after two of my friends and fellow Odyssey writers wrote about their respective struggles with ADHD and Social Anxiety, I figured I should also write about something that affects millions of people, including myself. So without further ado, let’s talk about diabetes, shall we? Or as actor and walrus impersonator Wilford Brimley calls it, “diabetus.”

While I’m sure you’re excited to read about something you may know little or care little about, I should probably first address my discomfort in referring to diabetes as a “disease.” Not that I find it offensive, mind you. In high school, my classmates’ started “Whack a Diabetic Wednesdays,” and just last year my roommate and some friends threw me a surprise party on World Diabetes Day (which included a playlist of any song with the word “sugar” in it). I found both of these instances hilarious, and the latter to actually be kind of sweet (pun intended). Anyway, I hesitate to call diabetes a “disease” because in terms of chronic illnesses, I hit the jackpot, especially when compared to things such as ALS and Cystic Fibrosis. Instead, I more or less consider diabetes an inconvenience. The only things it has kept me from doing is enlisting in the military (Go Army) and giving blood. But what exactly is diabetes?

First and foremost, there are actually two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2 (there’s also Gestational diabetes, but that’s usually temporary). We’ll start with Type 1, since that’s what I have. And while I’m not a particularly “sciency” individual, I think I can give a pretty simple rundown of something I’ve had for half my life. So, remember the pancreas from high school biology? It’s one of those organs clumped together near the stomach, like the spleen or liver. The pancreas produces insulin, which your body uses to maintain your blood sugar, specifically by absorbing the glucose (from carbohydrates you consume) for your body to use as energy. If your blood sugar is high, you have too much glucose in your body, and the pancreas will release more insulin to consume more glucose, which will bring your blood sugar back down to a normal level. However, for some unknown reason, my immune system decided to attack and kill off the cells in my pancreas, rendering it useless and me a Type 1 diabetic (which actually happened the day before Thanksgiving, pretty ironic huh?). So with my pancreas out of commission, I have to rely on synthetic insulin administered through either injections or an insulin pump (the latter of which I use). I also have to regularly check my blood sugar by pricking my finger with a spring-action needle (or “lancing device”), and making sure a tiny strip on a monitoring device (or “meter”) absorbs the resulting blood. That monitoring device then shows a number reflecting my current blood sugar level, which I can use to determine whether I need to inject insulin to lower my blood sugar, consume carbohydrates (which have glucose, remember) to raise it, or preferably, do nothing. So basically, Type 1 diabetes is like trying to balance on a seesaw, while your own body is trying to throw you off it. And between the shaking, sweating, and fainting caused by low blood sugar, and the dehydration, fatigue, and nausea caused by high blood sugar, it’s a hell of a seesaw.

Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is a bit different. With Type 2, your pancreas isn’t rendered useless by your immune system. Instead, Type 2 diabetics have something called “insulin resistance”, which means your body doesn’t utilize insulin as it should. Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes, and unlike Type 1, is usually caused by obesity, unhealthy eating, and inactivity (although genes are also sometimes a factor). For Type 2 diabetics, their treatment mainly involves dieting, exercise and medication (which may or may not include the occasional insulin injection).

So there it is: an informal, uninteresting, and rather brief rundown of a disease that affects millions of people. You’ve taken the time to read about something you might have known little to nothing about, scientia est potentia. However, if there is just one little thing you can take away from this article, let it be this: Having diabetes does not mean you are unable to eat anything that contains sugar. Usually, I’d refrain from using all caps, as it reflects the general lack of intelligence you’d find on Tumblr or the Youtube comment section. But if I had a nickel for every time someone asked me “Does that mean you can’t eat sugar?” after I tell them I’m diabetic, I’d probably have enough to buy a candy bar, which I would eat, because I can.

Cover Image Credit: gigaom

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.

Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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Poetry On Odyssey: Some Days

A poem that reminds you that you're not alone.


Some days,

You dread the sound of your alarm. You snooze and snooze and snooze and snooze.

When you finally pull yourself out of bed, pressed time forces you to throw on stained sweats

you find yourself chugging a cup of coffee.

You sit on the couch and contemplate calling out of work

You caught the stomach bug,

Or perhaps the flu,

Maybe you broke your collar bone

Or need a new phone

The endless list of excuses repeats through your head as you sit on the couch, wishing you were still in bed.

It takes every ounce

Every breath

Every fiber of your being to pull yourself off the couch

And into the car

And into the building where you work

Some days,

This is just how it goes

You are not alone.

Some days,

You awake to the beautiful sound of birds

Chirping outside your window

The sun sneaks its way into your room

A smile creeps across your face as you realize you are awake to see a new day

You make a good breakfast

You read a few pages of your favorite book

You get your mind ready for the things it will accomplish today

Before you know it you've worked an entire day

Your job is done

As you pull into your driveway,

you take a few breaths

Feeling grateful for another meaningful day.

Some days,

This is how it goes

You are not alone.

Every day is a gamble,

Every day is a gift

The key to getting more good days

Is believing that everyday is one.

You are not alone, this is just how it goes.

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