Insulin is a type of hormone made up of 45 amino acids, and it is important for signaling to the body’s cells to pick up excess sugar from the bloodstream. Normally, whenever you decide to drown yourself in a Big Gulp from 7-Eleven, the sugars in the soda will be absorbed through your stomach directly into your bloodstream. Insulin is pumped out by the pancreas, which acts as a signal that gives the thumbs up to your muscles and fat cells to throw a sweet rager with the soda you just dumped into your body. Everyone has a good time – until the party ends.
I was diagnosed as a Type I diabetic in October 1993. I was traveling at the time, and I felt lethargic, I was always thirsty, and I was having trouble concentrating. When I returned home, I went for a checkup, and the doctor confirmed my condition. From that day forward, I’ve been injecting myself with insulin every day. Before I switched to an insulin pump in 2011, I calculated that I had given myself about 30,000 needles. That’s a lot of jabbing.
Diabetes is a number of diseases that involve problems with the hormone insulin. Normally, the pancreas (an organ behind the stomach) releases insulin to help your body store and use the sugar and fat from the food you eat. Diabetes can occur when the pancreas produces very little or no insulin, or when the body does not respond appropriately to insulin. As yet, there is no cure. People with diabetes need to manage their disease to stay healthy.