February charity news – JDRF
“The future is looking a lot brighter”
Katie Price, 48, from Surrey reveals why Type 1 diabetes charity JDRF’s research is so vital
Like many working parents, Katie Price, 48, is often juggling a busy to-do list. However, the mum of two is also coping with a lifelong condition that is never far from her thoughts. “Whatever I’m doing, I need to have half my mind on my blood sugar. I am constantly planning what I’m going to be eating, wondering how much insulin I need and checking my blood sugar levels so I don’t have a ‘hypo’ or suffer other potentially serious complications.”
Katie was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes – an autoimmune condition that develops when the body is unable to produce insulin, which allows the glucose in the blood to be used for energy – when she was just nine years old. “I was so thirsty all the time and had a real loss of energy – I could hardly walk up the stairs without stopping. My parents took me to the family doctor, who did a urine test, which confirmed I had the condition.
“We had no immediate family history of diabetes, so it came as quite a shock to my parents. None of us really knew much about it or what to expect.”
Katie was admitted to hospital where she could be closely monitored. “Looking back, it was horrific – I was put on a heart ward surrounded by elderly patients, so there were people dying all around me. I was started on insulin injections straight away, using enormous syringes with big, thick needles. My parents were anxious about the risk of possible long-term complications such as retinopathy, an eye disease that can lead to loss of vision or nerve damage.”
Katie learnt how to give herself daily injections of insulin, and, seven years ago, switched from injections to an insulin pump, which is a portable device attached to the body by a cannula that constantly delivers insulin. “The pumps are finely tuned so you can change the amount of insulin as you need to. However, while this is a lot easier when I’m
out with friends, it’s still hard to judge how many carbohydrates are in foods and I have
to constantly monitor my blood sugar levels.”
Unfortunately, in December 2014, Katie’s worst fears were realised when her daughter Sophie, then nine, was also diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. “We consulted our doctor before having children and were told the risk of them getting Type 1 diabetes was small, so the diagnosis came as a huge shock. It was terribly difficult knowing that I had potentially passed it on to her.”
Although Sophie is managing well, in her first year of having diabetes she will have injected herself at least 1,500 times and pricked her finger over 2,000 times to test her blood sugar, which is the reality for many people living with this condition. “It’s hard work having to maintain a normal blood sugar level and good health, – there is no day off,” says Katie.
JDRF raised £82,188 in The Candis Big Give, which will help fund research into curing, treating and preventing Type 1 diabetes and its complications. “While they haven’t yet found a cure, there are some amazing research findings and promising new treatments being tested – such as ‘smart insulin’ and bionic pancreases – which will ease the burden of managing this condition. The research gives hope to those living with Type 1 diabetes.”
JDRF – THE FACTS
- JDRF supports vital research into Type 1 diabetes – a chronic, life-threatening condition – with the mission to accelerate breakthroughs to prevent, cure and treat the condition and its complications.
- Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition in which your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake. It cannot be prevented, and, unlike Type 2 diabetes, is not linked to lifestyle factors. It affects 400,000 people in the UK.
- People with Type 1 diabetes rely on multiple insulin injections or pump infusions every day just to stay alive.
- Visit jdrf.org.uk
BIG GIVE UPDATE
The money raised in The Candis Big Give will contribute directly to JDRF’s research programme, which is focused on moving scientific discoveries into products to cure, treat and prevent Type 1 diabetes and improve patients’ lives until the day a cure is found.