According to the CDC, over 100 Million Americans have diabetes in the United States.
Even with the disease being so prevalent, there are still some who don’t fully understand how demanding treatment is on the people who have it.
“It’s a 24-hour job,” OBU alumni Micah Hawkins said.
“You always have to make sure your blood sugar is where it needs to be. I have to calculate everything that has carbs in it and then take a certain amount of insulin. I take a shot every time I eat.”
There are different ways to inject insulin into one’s bloodstream, but the most popular method, according to US National Library of Medicine, is to use a pen needle.
Hawkins described the process she undergoes when using a pen needle.
“Say I eat an apple,” Hawkins said.
“An apple has 15 carbs in it and I usually go by 5 units of insulin when I inject it, so I just grab my pen needle and…it has about 300 units of insulin in it. So, I just twist the setting to however many units of insulin I need and put on a disposable needle and its ready to go…it’s basically like an automatic syringe.”
Hawkins said one of the most challenging tasks about having diabetes is the effort it takes to calculate the carbs in everything she ingests.
This can be especially difficult if she eats at a restaurant.
“When I was little, we didn’t have the technology we had today,” Hawkins said.
“So, I had this thing called a ‘carb count book,’ which basically had everything that has carbs in it…so I would just flip through it and it would give me the serving size so I could add everything up.”
“Now…since I’ve been doing it so long I kind of guesstimate how much everything is. A lot of restaurants have the option to ask for nutrition facts, which they usually have on little cards that you can look at and see,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins has type one diabetes – which she developed at an early age.
Unlike type two diabetes – which is often a consequence of poor health that leads to a weakened response to insulin – type one diabetes occurs when an individual does not produce insulin at all.
Hawkins’ diabetes is not a result of lifestyle choices like inactivity – it is simply a matter of genetics.
However, whenever patients with type one diabetes try to be physically active, it also comes with its own set of challenges.
Hawkins spoke on her personal experience with this struggle.
“Every Thursday me and my friends go play sand volleyball,” Hawkins said.
“We usually go around seven p.m. so I eat dinner before.”
But as per usual, eating comes with a specific amount of insulin.
Hawkins explained how exercising creates cause for altering her insulin injections.
“For example, if I were to have Chick-fil-a for dinner I would normally give myself close to 6 units, but if I’m working out after I give myself about three units and take a Gatorade with me…because running or any exercise makes it drop so I need something to bring with me in order to raise [my insulin levels] back up after,” Hawkins said.
Given that every individual with diabetes must inject themselves with insulin on a daily basis, and for most individuals – multiple times a day, it can be quite taxing on the body.
“It doesn’t really matter where I inject myself with the needle,” Hawkins said.
“I usually do the back of my arm, my stomach or the back of my leg. I rotate each time I inject myself, so it doesn’t develop any hard tissue…if I do the same spot it doesn’t take the insulin as well anymore.”
Hawkins believes not only is diabetes something individuals shouldn’t be afraid of, but those who have it shouldn’t let it define their lives.
“It doesn’t matter, it’s who you are and it’s who I have become,” Hawkins said.
“[Diabetes is] nothing to be embarrassed about. No one would judge you if everyone had to take these shots to survive. Be proud of who you are.”