Diabetes is a serious health condition that affects tens of millions of people in the United States. With just over 10% of the total population being diagnosed, both young and old face down the disease. Diabetes comes in two types, Type 1 and Type 2. Type 2 is a much more prevalent diagnosis, but Type 1 still affects around 1.6 million people.
What causes Type 1 diabetes is still largely unknown. Unlike Type 2, which can possibly be prevented with the right diet and exercise regimen, there is no way to prevent the development of Type 1 diabetes. The development of Type 1 largely rests upon a patient's genetic make-up; if it's in their family’s medical history, a person is at-risk of being diagnosed with the disease.
Type 1 is quite prevalent in children, as age is another major risk factor in the disease's development. It first emerges between the ages of 4 and 7, and again between the ages of 10 and 14. During these periods, a young child predisposed to Type 1 is most at-risk of a diagnosis.
Whether it's Type 1 or Type 2, any diabetes diagnosis is a major struggle to overcome. This is especially the case for young children.
To get an inside look, we contacted a local Louisiana family with direct experience with the disease. Karmamarie Bourque is a ten-year-old who was diagnosed with Type 1 in October 2017. When asked what she does to manage the disease, her, and her mother, Lori Bourque, shared Karmamarie’s daily regimen: "We carb count, we check blood sugar multiple times a day and when it’s a nice day outside I try to go outside, jump on the trampoline, and take the dog for a walk."
Karmamarie prefers Omnipods, a small wearable insulin delivery device, to many of the other diabetes supplies. The brand allows her to check her blood sugar often and avoid skin irritations.
Type 1 diabetes generally runs in the family. Karmamarie’s father is also diagnosed with the disease. When asked what it’s like being diagnosed with Type 1, Karmamarie stated, “Up until this year, I was the only person at my school who was diagnosed with diabetes, but this year there is one other person. From my past experience, it singles me out a little bit. People at school see my [insulin] pump and ask me questions like “What is that?” “What does it do?” Sometimes it makes me feel different and sometimes, it makes me a little nervous."
Along these lines, we asked Karmamarie if
there is anything she’d want people to know about being diagnosed with diabetes. In response, she shared a great tip for everyone living with or learning about the disease: "The more educated people are, the less likely they are to treat you differently or to be judgmental about being diagnosed with diabetes because I get that a lot.” She recalled meeting people over the years who offered advice by saying that if she properly dieted or exercised, she wouldn’t have the disease. Nevertheless, Karmamarie is aware of the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. She knows that even with diet and exercise she would still be diagnosed with the rare form of the condition.
Karmamarie’s lesson to everyone is that the best way to support those with diabetes is to show empathy and understanding. The condition is a day-to-day challenge all on its own. However, compassion and kindness goes a long way.