Tag: Diabetic ketoacidosis

World Diabetes Day – Insulin discovery

© Mary Evans Picture Library / SZ Photo / Scherl

© Mary Evans Picture Library / SZ Photo / Scherl

Since I come from a science background. I thought that this year for World diabetes day I would concentrate on one of the major breakthrough’s in diabetes. The breakthrough which stands out in my mind and is very close to my heart is the discovery of insulin by Dr Frederick Banting and Charles Best. Without this life changing discovery, let’s put it this way I probably wouldn’t be here today. I wanted to show my appreciation and write a post dedicated to these men.

Frederick Banting was a Canadian scientist, born on 14 November (World Diabetes Day) 1891 in Alliston, Ontario. His list of achievements stacks up high. In 1916, he received an M.B degree and was able to join the Canadian Army Medical Corps during World War 1. During the war, besides being wounded badly, he continued to help the sick and injured.

When the war ended in 1919 he returned to Canada and was awarded the Military Cross. He also became a medical practitioner for a short time. Until he returned to Toronto to study orthopaedic medicine.

1919-1920, he was resident surgeon at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. He did this whilst continuing his general practice, teaching orthopaedics and anthropology part-time at the University of Western Ontario in London.

*The Insulin breakthrough*

In 1923, Frederick Banting along with his assistant Charles Best discovered how to extract insulin so that it could be used on patients suffering from severe diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). If you aren’t aware of the research you can have a look at the step by step documentation of the research carried out on http://link.library.utoronto.ca/insulin/timeline-frames.html

Dr Frederick Banting was presented with a Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1923 along with Dr. JRR MacLeod, Professor of Physiology at the University of Toronto.  His assistant and co-founder of insulin “Charles Best” was not recognised for the hard work he had contributed in the research. Dr. F Banting decided that he would share his award money with Best. According to the Nobel Prize,” as of September 2011, Banting, who received the Nobel Prize at age 32, remains the youngest Nobel laureate in the area of Physiology/Medicine.”

The Canadian government gave Banting a lifetime annuity to work on his research. Banting married Marion Robertson in 1924; they had one child, William (b. 1928). This marriage ended in a divorce in 1932. He was then knighted by King George the V in 1934 and became Sir Frederick Banting.

Banting and Best went on to work at the Banting and Best institute in the University of Toronto. Today this institute is known as the BBDMR. Dr. F Banting went on to work on other aspects of research such as, silicosis, cancer, and the mechanism of drowning and how to counteract it. In 1937 Banting married Henrietta Ball.

Dr F Banting reenlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. There he severed as a liaisons officer between England and North America. In 1941, he was involved in an air crash and regrettably he met his demise.

I’ll be forever grateful to Banting and Best for their astounding breakthrough. This discovery has helped many people suffering with diabetes and is definitely the biggest breakthrough in my eyes in the diabetes world.

Words of Sir Frederick Banting:

 “Insulin is not a cure for diabetes; it is a treatment. It enables the diabetic to burn sufficient carbohydrates, so that proteins and fats may be added to the diet in sufficient quantities to provide energy for the economic burdens of life.”

 

Hyper or Hypo!

HYPO vs HYPERAs a Type 1 diabetic, I am all too familiar with high and low blood sugars. It’s a constant struggle to keep levels within a good range. When I think about it, diabetes and controlling BGL is quiet a scary prospect. People without diabetes may not realise the difficulty of managing their sugar levels, because the body does this automatically.

On a daily basis I’m faced with the complexity of managing, my sometimes unpredictable blood glucose levels. I’ve learnt that there are many factors which can impact blood glucose level (BGL) such as, eating too much, or not eating enough, eating on time, how much exercise I’ve done, stress, too little, or too much Insulin. It is extremely important to keep a close eye on what I’m eating, the Insulin I take and most of all my BGL. It all ties together!

What is Hyperglycaemia (Sugar High)?

sugar high

Hyperglycaemia – this occurs when blood glucose levels increase above 11mmol (200mg/dL) and circulate in the blood stream. High BGL’s over a period of years can lead to many type of serious complications. I will touch on these complications in another post.

Symptoms

In the weeks prior to my diagnosis, I began to experience symptoms which were consistent with chronic hyperglycaemia. I will just outline a few of these symptoms.

  • FatigueTiredness which I can’t even begin to explain. If I had to explain this, it would feel like running a marathon, with no water, under the scorching sun and no breaks. Absolutely zapped of energy! Then you’ll probably have a rough idea of the sort of exhaustion I feel.
  • Polydipsia – This is a frequent and uncontrollable thirst. (Hence the need for my huge 2L bottle which was permanently attached to my hip before my diagnosis.
  • Polyuria – Frequent Urination. I was permanently glued to the toilet. It was all day and night. From what I can remember, it was probably between (20- 30 times ) in a day.
  • Dry Mouth – My mouth was always dry. No amount of liquid eased this feeling.
  • Fruity taste – This is a very strong and almost sickly fruity taste, which resembles a really sweet pear. This is a sign of ketone’s.
  • Blurred Vision – My eye sight changed and I needed to wear glasses. Which I then wore for 2 years straight.
  • Weight loss Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), this arises when there is a shortage of Insulin in the body. The body in response to this, lack of insulin adjusts and begins to burn fatty acids whilst producing acidic ketone bodies. My appearance changed rapidly. I’m naturally quiet a tall and slim figure so you can only imagine what I looked like.

What is Hypoglycaemia (Sugar Low)?

PrintHypoglycaemia – A hypo is triggered when blood glucose levels fall under 4 mmol/L or (72mg/dL). This fall occurs when, too much insulin is given or too little food is consumed.

My Hypo symptoms:

Hypo symptoms vary from person to person. Some diabetics have very few to no symptoms at all. My symptoms, and the way they happen have changed throughout the years. The biggest change was during my pregnancy. Its really up to the individual to learn their symptoms so that they can act quickly when they find themselves in this situation. However I’ll give you a general break down of the way my symptoms usually occur.

  • Initially I may feel hungry or dizzy – this hunger feeling is an urge to eat something quickly, for me it’s usually something sweet.
  • This is then followed by a change in my mood. Which can range from feeling irritated, angry, and I have even found myself getting upset over the smallest of things. At that moment in time, everything is blown out of proportion. I really believe that emotions, such as anger which may not be in a person’s characteristics may be brought to the surface, or exaggerated because the person is in a hypo state.
  • Change in temperature – Usually I will feel extremely hot. ”Over heated!” Almost like I’ve been made to stand in a sauna for hours. At this point I break out in a sweat.

If my symptoms progress:

  • “The shakes”. I am unable to stop my hands from shaking, followed by a tingling feeling on my tongue.
  • Concentrating on one thing at a time can feel really confusing. I develop the ”one track mind” and I tend to fixate on what is being said, with a need to defend myself, even if it isn’t directed at me.This quickly turns into silence, as I feel myself crashing. Unable to speak, and move, trying to preserve the last bit of energy I have left.
  • ZERO energy – to the point of collapsing.
  • In extreme cases diabetics are known to go into ‘diabetic coma’s’ and even have seizures . I have never experienced this and pray that I never do.

PrintOccasionally I’ve had hypo’s during the night. This is known as ”nocturnal hypoglycaemia”. I usually wake up in a confused state, feeling absolutely exhausted, with a piercing headache, damp clothing and sheets due to sweating.

Dealing with these symptoms can definitely be frustrating and testing at times. The huge responsibility, that comes with accepting my condition, whilst trying to manage it to the best of my ability is terrifying. I can’t say that any one symptom is more severe than the other, as the feeling of each one is severe in itself. As the hypo progresses the earlier symptoms are enhanced. Finding the right balance between food, exercise, and insulin will give you the best of BGL’s on one day. Then on another day this perfect balance becomes irrelevant, causing BGL’s to be disrupted. It really is a daily battle, one which can make other things seem so trivial. As hard as it can be,  I try to remember this,

“my rules of encouragement”

  1. ‘Push’ for the best results for you
  2. Try to stay strong
  3. Be determined to reach and keep within that normal range
  4. Do what you’re supposed to do, ie test sugars levels, eat well, take your insulin, exercise (find something active that you love and can maintain).
  5. ‘Overwhelmed’ don’t suffer by yourself 
  6. Stay positive
  7. Remember a down day is normal. Everyone has their down day!

“Take responsibility and control of it, before it controls you.”

I’d love to see your perspective in the comments! What symptom’s do you have? How do they progress? Have they remained the same throughout your time with diabetes? Any Type II diabetics have you experienced any symptoms? If you’re not diabetic, have you ever experienced being with or around someone who has suffered a hypo/hyper? Are you able to recognise that the person is experiencing a hypo/hyper? Maybe by a change in their mood, expression, or the way they are talking etc?