November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and there are many initiatives that are working to increase education and bring awareness to diabetes. It is the hope that these efforts will bring us that much closer to finding a cure. While diet, exercise, and insulin are all important for managing diabetes, there is still no cure for diabetes.
So today I wanted to talk about a certain campaign by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) called the T1D for a day Text Challenge. The purpose of the challenge is to experience what it is like to have type 1 diabetes for 24 hours through a series of text messages from professional snowboarder, Sean Busby. Sean has had T1D for 9 years and has back country snowboarded on 6 continents. Each of his text messages are meant to show what it’s like to manage glucose testing, insulin injections, and the food choices that a person with type 1 diabetes requires each day.
When I saw this campaign, I was curious what the texts would be like so I signed up to participate. Living with diabetes is so engrained into my life that I wanted to see how someone would communicate what it’s like through these text messages. When you aren’t counting carbs and giving insulin, you’re checking your blood sugar and anticipating what might happen based on the activity you are going to be doing. Do you give more insulin? Do you take a snack? Is it rising, dropping, staying level? The day is filled with constant calculations. How would the texts portray this?
Over the course of 24 hours, I received texts from Sean Busby, and I have to say, I think he did a great job with this challenge. Through the series of texts, you really do see how much thought goes into taking care of your diabetes, with constant glucose checks, giving insulin before meals, and treating highs and lows. There are 2 points of the challenge that I really appreciated. First, he talks about how adrenaline and stress can raise blood sugar, a point that many people may not know who don’t have diabetes. It isn’t just food that can affect blood sugar. The second point is that he goes low in the middle of the night and sure enough, I got a text during the night to tell me. This is something that happens all the time to me, being woken up from low blood sugars and sometimes even high ones.I appreciated that this was incorporated into the challenge, making it feel more authentic.
It was also really interesting to see what a typical day is like for a professional snowboarder, but I won’t go into details because I think that you should sign up and see for yourself!
For someone who doesn’t have diabetes themselves or doesn’t live or interact regularly with someone who does, I think this campaign is a really great way to get a glimpse into the life of a T1D. And even if you do have T1D like me, I still found it interesting. But what you won’t get from these texts are the feelings associated with that low blood sugar. The shaky, lightheaded feeling that makes it hard to concentrate and leaves you in a sweat, is missing. The nauseous and gross feeling of a high blood sugar that makes you have to pee all the time, is missing. The fear of wondering if you correctly gave the right amount of insulin for the restaurant meal that you ate and really have no idea exactly how many carbs it was, is missing. The anxiety of always having what you need at the time that you need it no matter where you are, is missing. But without having diabetes yourself, you will never know exactly what it is like, but by participating in this text challenge, you may begin to understand.
Signing up is super easy: Text T1D4ADAY to 63566. You can text Stop to unsubscribe and text Help for help. You’ll get a lot of text messages during that day and they may get annoying, but hey, living with diabetes is pretty annoying at times too so I encourage you to stick through it.
Here’s the website: http://jdrf.org/blog/2013/take-the-t1d-for-a-day-text-challenge/
Youtube video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2sbe_f9oGM
So take the challenge! Learn a little bit more what it’s like to live with and manage this chronic condition. Awareness and education are among the first steps to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes!