27 posts in the category “Diabetes”

Why these 5 Olympians with health conditions are #1 in our hearts

Posted February 28th, 2018 by

The 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games have come to a close. Did you happen to catch any of these 5 Olympians with health conditions (recently highlighted in The Mighty)? Their performances were inspiring — but their perspective on living with illness is what’s really golden.

U.S. pairs figure skater Alexa Scimeca-Knierim developed a rare, life-threatening gastrointestinal disorder that caused episodes of vomiting and severe weight loss and has been hard to diagnose. She had three abdominal surgeries and has shown her scars on Instagram.

After a long and painful recovery, Alexa was able to return to skating. “My whole outlook changed,” she told Team USA. “I was grateful to have the chance to fall instead of stressing out over falling or not. Was a fall as big of a deal as a drain getting pulled out of me? No, not at all. I was grateful.”

In PyeongChang, Alexa and her husband/skating partner, Chris Knierim, took home the bronze medal in the figure skating team competition and placed 15th in the pairs competition.

Alexa shared this photo with SELF for a video about her health problems and extraordinary road to the Olympics.

American long-track speed skater Brittany Bowe sustained a concussion when she collided with another skater in 2016. Later, after fainting multiple times, she was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome and a lesser-known condition called “POTS” or postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. POTS can be a years-long or potentially lifelong condition, and it affects the body’s ability to control blood pressure or heart rate as it should when you stand up, which can cause dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting.

“There would be times where people I’d not seen in a while [would say], ‘Oh you look great, you look so healthy…’ And I’m just dying inside because I know my head isn’t on my shoulders where it normally sits,” Brittany said in a video she shared on Instagram. (Her comments reminds us of what many patients with invisible illness hear from “the normals”: “But you look so good!”). She received specialized care and coaching for people with POTS and was able to qualify for the 2018 Olympics.

Canadian snowboarder Spencer O’Brien started feeling serious joint pain and stiffness in late 2012, and she originally attributed it to normal wear and tear from her sport. It took until 2014 to get the right diagnosis (rheumatoid arthritis) — and she went through bouts of depression before finding out what was wrong.

“A big lesson I learned during that experience was to be an advocate for my health,” Spencer told The Inertia. “I think our intuition is so strong, like I knew something was wrong with me beyond the injuries, and I did voice that, but we ran a number of tests, which came back clean.” She had to push for additional tests, which pointed to RA and helped her get on the right track with her treatments so she could continue her sport.

U.S. cross-country skier Kris Freeman was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2000 (at age 19) after a routine blood test run by a U.S. ski team physiologist. PyeongChang was his fourth Olympics appearance. During the 2006 Olympic Games, The New York Timesprofiled Freeman and his unique treatment/training regimen. (Little known fact: Insulin is on the anti-doping list, and athletes who need it for medical treatment, like Kris, have to apply for a waiver — “one more hurdle that comes with managing diabetes,” The Times noted.)

“The last few years have been tough with some pretty public setbacks with my diabetes,” Kris told Lilly Diabetes (he’s a speaker at their diabetes summer camps for kids). “But, I’ve been able to stay positive and maintain my nutrition and overall diabetes management, which has helped me tremendously. I want to show everyone, especially children, that they can and should keep reaching for their dreams.”

Marc Oliveras, an alpine skier from Andorra, was diagnosed with lupus (SLE) in 2014 and took a break from his sport so he could treat the autoimmune disorder, which was affecting his skin, kidneys and blood. “After a long recovery and a difficult summer, where I had to start first knowing the unknown [my disease], being able to compete is already a reward,” he said in his athlete profile.

It’s worth reading The Mighty’s article to the end, because the author reminds people living with health conditions that everyone’s illness and situation is different: some people may have milder forms of a disease, respond better to treatment, or have better access to world-class care.

Also, the media tend to share a boiled-down or glossed-over features on athletes triumphantly “overcoming” their condition, rather than showing the everyday challenges or realities of managing their condition while training for their sport. Fortunately, athletes like the ones above are raising awareness: they’ve lived, breathed and trained with their condition, and they feel grateful to even be able to compete. That kind of perspective is pure gold.

Do any of these quotes or stories strike a chord or inspire you? Join the conversation on PatientsLikeMe.

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How many kinds of diabetes are there? Lots. Explore type 1, type 2, LADA and more

Posted November 29th, 2017 by

Confused about the different types of diabetes? Never heard of other forms of diabetes beyond “1” and “2”? You’re not alone. As American Diabetes Month comes to a close, we’re shedding some light on this topic. Overall, more than 30 million Americans (9.4 percent of the U.S. population) have diabetes. Here’s a guide to help you and your loved ones learn more about the various kinds of diabetes. Join PatientsLikeMe today to connect with and learn from members living with 10+ different forms of diabetes.

Well-known (but still misunderstood) types of diabetes

People are most familiar with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, so let’s start with some stats, facts and myths about those:

  • Type 1 diabetes – About 5% of people with diabetes have type 1 diabetes (previously called insulin-dependent or juvenile diabetes), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children, teens, and young adults, but it can develop at any age (some members on PatientsLikeMe say they were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in their 60s). It’s caused by an autoimmune reaction (where the body attacks itself by mistake) that destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin (the hormone that lets blood sugar into the body’s cells for energy). Because of this autoimmune attack, the pancreas makes little to no insulin (so people need to inject insulin). Diet and lifestyle habits don’t cause type 1 diabetes. People with type 1 diabetes can eat normal, healthy meals and have sweets (in moderation, like the general population) when they follow their treatment plan. Connect with 3,000+ members with type 1 diabetes on PatientsLikeMe.
  • Type 2 diabetes – At least 90% of Americans with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, the CDC says. It usually develops in people over age 45, but more and more children, teens and young adults are also getting diagnosed. In most people with type 2 diabetes, the pancreas makes extra insulin because cells in the body have become “insulin resistant” — they don’t respond normally to allow blood sugar in as energy. Many people think that being overweight is the only risk factor for type 2 diabetes. While weight can play a role in the condition, other risk factors include family history, ethnicity and age. Most overweight people never develop diabetes, and many people who do develop type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only slightly overweight, according to the American Diabetes Association. Treatments for type 2 diabetes range from dietary changes and exercise to oral or injected medications. Connect with 19,000 members with type 2 diabetes on PatientsLikeMe.

Lesser-known types of diabetes

Research has uncovered many more types of diabetes than just types 1 and 2. In a 2013 study, the authors concluded that “the latest scientific findings no longer support such a rigid classification of diabetes…. Rather there appears to be a continuum of forms and a mixture of diabetes phenotypes.”

Other known forms of diabetes include:

  • Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) – Gestational diabetes affects pregnant women toward the middle or end of pregnancy, and usually goes away shortly after giving birth. But in some cases, diabetes doesn’t resolve after pregnancy, and it is then considered type 2 diabetes.
  • “Type 1.5” or LADA – Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA, nicknamed “Type 1.5”) is a type of diabetes is usually diagnosed after age 30, in which people show signs of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the CDC says. Some experts believe that LADA is a slowly developing kind of type 1 diabetes because patients have autoimmune antibodies in the pancreas. Many people with LADA are initially misdiagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Most people with LADA still produce their own insulin when first diagnosed but require insulin injections months or years later.
  • MODY, NDM and other monogenic forms of diabetes – Some rare forms of diabetes result from mutations in a single gene and are called monogenic. Monogenic forms of diabetes account for about 1 to 5 percent of all cases of diabetes in young people, according the National Institutes of Health. In most cases, the gene mutation is inherited; in the remaining cases the gene mutation develops spontaneously. Maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) usually first occurs during adolescence or early adulthood, but it is often mistaken for type 1 diabetes or undiagnosed until later in life. Neonatal diabetes mellitus (NDM) is a monogenic form of diabetes that occurs in the first 6 months of life (earlier than type 1 diabetes occurs), and remains a lifelong condition for about half of those diagnosed.

Check out BeyondType1.org’s roundup of other rare kinds of diabetes.

Living with a rare or confusing kind of diabetes that doesn’t fit neatly into “type 1” or “type 2”? Connect with members of these smaller diabetes-related communities on PatientsLikeMe to learn from their experiences: LADAMODYdiabetes insipiduscystic fibrosis-related diabetesmedication-induced diabetes mellitussteroid-induced diabetes mellituspancreatogenous diabetes and prediabetes. If you have another kind of diabetes, please leave a comment.

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