When blue candles are posted on social media profiles, the hearts of those of us in the diabetes community stop. Blue candles for people with diabetes are symbols used to mourn someone who has died. Sadly, we seem to see these images pop up too often across the online community.
Social media allows us to hear of more deaths
In a world where news is now shared at the click of a button, I often wonder if diabetes is more deadly than it ever was or, do we now hear of more incidences? Does social media allow us to have greater access to these tragedies or has our striving for tighter glucose control created a higher risk of death for people living with type 1 diabetes?
I don’t tell my son when someone has passed away because of diabetes. I rarely light blue candles on my Facebook profile. There are too many stories of children dying in their sleep, being misdiagnosed, or rationing their insulin to lethal extremes. I don’t write about half of the stories that I hear. I can’t.
When I read about these children–whether they are fourteen or forty, they are still someone’s child. My heart breaks for the parents and the families. I hug my boys a little closer. I pray a little harder for a cure.
Are more people dying because of diabetes because more people have diabetes?
According to data acquired by Beyond Type 1, in the US there are approximately 1.25 million Americans living with Type 1 diabetes. In Canada, the figure is thought to be over 300,000 and in the UK it is estimated that 1 in every 430-530 people under the age of 19 has Type 1 diabetes. The number of diagnoses each day keeps growing, as does the number of deaths and thus we are seeing more blue candles for people with diabetes.
Why is diabetes deadly?
The general public often thinks that diabetes is no big deal. You inject some insulin or perhaps you wear an insulin pump that injects it for you. You avoid sweets and get on with your life. There is nothing to it.
The reality is that insulin can kill. Both too little or too much insulin can have deadly consequences. Finding the correct balance can be a huge challenge.
To inject the right amount of insulin at any given time, you must consider things like the fat content, the amount of protein, complex carbohydrates, and simple sugars in a meal. You must look at the you are planning to do exercise, the activity from two days ago, and if you are getting ill, are stressed or anxious. illness, stress, and anxiety.
Do modern diabetes therapies make it easier or hard to stay alive with type 1 diabetes?
Today we have rapid acting insulin that can quickly drop blood glucose levels. We rely on technology to deliver insulin properly. Some of us rely on continuous glucose monitors to tell us if blood sugars are rising or falling.
These tools are allowing us to see fewer complications than we once did. They have not yet allowed us to completely replace the human pancreas however. We cannot anticipate all the body’s needs.
Diabetes might not be more deadly but it still can be lethal
Diabetes DOES kill despite those who think otherwise. The fear of dying because of diabetes is real and, while possibly magnified by the internet, the danger is still present.
We need a cure. Until there is a cure, we will continue to see blue candles posted on social media. We will loose loved ones and friends to this sinister disease in one way or another.
The blue candles will continue to be a way for us to honour those who have passed. They will be a way for the diabetes community online to come together and grieve.
Download the signs and symptoms of high and low blood sugars so that you know what to look out for.