“The Honeymoon Period.”
Sounds like a good thing, right? Who doesn’t love a honeymoon? Me, that ‘s who. I assure you this is not the “take romantic walks on the beach” kind of honeymoon.
Let me give you a little background. (Remember, I am not a doctor, even though my initials are DR).
So, your body has decided that it is going to now attack the islet cells on your pancreas that produce insulin, thus rendering you diabetic. But your body doesn’t go out in one day and kill all of the cells. It starts attacking them and they systematically die off. When enough of them have been destroyed, the glucose is no longer being carried out of the bloodstream and into the cells to be used for energy, so you gradually start showing symptoms. Everyday, more islet cells are destroyed. Eventually, the insulin that is still working is over-worked and decides to go on strike. It can’t keep up, so it stops working. So one day your islet cells are producing insulin, and seemingly the next day (it doesn’t really happen that quickly), many of the cells are killed and the ones that aren’t killed, are refusing to work. So boom! Virtually no insulin working in your body and you get really sick, really fast (DKA).
Not every person who is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes goes into DKA. In fact, Medium was one of those who didn’t. I like to think it was because of my keen awareness and attention to detail that I was able to identify his symptoms fairly early on, but who really knows. Nonetheless, the staff in the ER kept commenting on how kids usually are so much sicker than Medium when they come in. It was almost as if it wasn’t really happening because there didn’t really seem to be a real emergency, even though his blood glucose level was 565 mg/dL. (A healthy blood sugar level is between 70 mg/dL and 140 mg/dL). Everyone was very chill, everyone except Medium’s pediatrician whom I am sure was still sitting back at his office with his mouth agape. (He too didn’t think Medium looked sick and was quite shocked at the results in the office). As a former ER worker, I almost felt like I needed to apologize for disappointing them with our drama-free presentation!
But I digress.
Back to the honeymoon.
So, you’ve now been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. (We aren’t even going to go into how sucky that is in and of itself, you’ve heard enough of those rants from me). And the treatment (not cure) for this diagnosis is insulin. So you start giving yourself synthetic insulin via injections into the subcutaneous tissue of your arm, thigh, belly or buttock and now your body has what it needs to carry the glucose, that comes from the foods you eat, out of your bloodstream and into your cells to be used for energy. Yay. (Please notice the purposeful exclusion of an exclamation point here. While all diabetics and their caregivers are ever-so-grateful for the invention of synthetic insulin, it is not a cure. So, until there is a cure, you get no exclamation point. Sorry.)
But guess what? Remember that insulin that your own body was still producing but had gone on strike? Well, it has accepted the terms of the negotiated settlement and has now agreed to start working again, now that it has the help of the synthetic insulin. So, you have synthetic insulin and your own insulin, and guess what? Now you have too much insulin. And guess what? Too much insulin will kill you. Yeah, this would explain my love-hate relationship with insulin. The very thing that my son needs to stay alive, can also kill him. Super.
This period of time right after diagnosis when your body’s own insulin starts working again, is called the Honeymoon Period. (Hmmm, seems I could have gotten to this point faster, oh well.) The problem with the honeymoon period is that you don’t know when your body is going to kick out some insulin and how much it is going to kick out, so you are on the blood sugar roller coaster. Never really knowing how much synthetic insulin to give yourself. You do your best to come up with an insulin to carbohydrate ratio, but the hard truth is that, sometimes, you get it wrong.
While there is currently research being done on preserving those islet cells in those newly diagnosed with T1D, the outcome remains the same. Eventually all of those cells are going to be destroyed. So I have been saying all along, “just die already islet cells!” That way we don’t have to guess anymore how much insulin Medium really has working for him.
Well friends, I think the honeymoon is over. His blood sugars have gone up across the board. And I thought I would be relieved when this finally happened, but I am surprisingly saddened by it. I guess it just puts the proverbial nail in the proverbial coffin. The death of his pancreas.