Today is a special day for the diabetes community, and hopefully for those around us to hear our voices and gain better understanding of our plight.
Honestly, I try to raise my voice to this challenge every day. But for that little something extra, today I'd like to extend a special welcome to all the LADAs of the world -- a little-recognized or understood subgroup of our PWD community:
Who here got diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in their '20s, '30s, or even '40s? If so, you are (like me), a victim of Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA), once considered exceedingly rare but less and less so each year.
LADA is also referred to as "Slow Onset Type 1" or sometimes "Type 1.5" diabetes. Note that lots of physicians are still unfamiliar with it (!)
Often, because of their age, patients with LADA are automatically assumed to have Type 2 diabetes. That's what the doctors told me during my initial hospital stay. I was 37 years old, and had lost 20 pounds within less than three weeks. (I was close to going into ketoacidosis and diabetic coma, although I didn't feel that sick.)
It is now thought up to 20 percent of patients with apparent Type 2 diabetes really have LADA. Read the basics on LADA over at Diabetes Monitor.
A few essential things to know if you've been diagnosed with LADA:
- The Viral Theory- Why did you suddenly develop Type 1 diabetes at this "late age"?Many researchers believe that "one or more viral infections may triggerthe disease in genetically susceptible individuals."
- Insulin Honeymoon- For a happy period right after diagnosis, your pancreas is still ableto put out some small amounts of insulin, so your necessary doses willbe low, and you'll likely achieve very good BG results. Unfortunately,the honeymoon will end within a few months -- or at the latest, a yearor two down the road. Be prepared.
- Complications Clock- Diabetic complications (you know, the nasty stuff) are the result ofmonths and years of high blood sugars, or simply having diabetes for avery long period of time. For LADAs like us, the "complications clock"has just been switched on. So if you keep your blood sugars in range,your chances of developing complications are low. Also, people withType 1.5 usually don't have same high risk for heart problems oftenfound in high-cholesterol and high bloodpressure Type 2 patients.
- A New Way of Life - You probably already figured out that you need to rethink your lifeas you know it. It is now your prerogative to carry monitor, glucosetabs, insulin pump/pen and needles at all times; learn to injectyourself throughout the day; navigate the American healthcare system;and ward off the feeling that you're somehow being punished. Don'tthink for a minute that you can ignore this thing. (I'm here to help.)
- Finding Your Community- You may have checked out the American Diabetes Association (ADA)website and also the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)website, and still not felt like you've found a "home" for adults newlydiagnosed with Type 1. This is indeed a gap that needs to be filled.But if you've found your way here to DiabetesMine.com, then you've discovered the Diabetes OC(online community), where you'll meet many kindred spirits. I am alsoexcited to announce that I'm soon to become community manager of a new online meeting place called Diabetic Connect, where I hope to welcome as many LADAs as other types of PWDs (people with diabetes).
Take this day to feel good about yourself, and maybe share this post with some friends or Loved Ones having trouble getting their heads around your distinctive kind of diabetes.
Please know that you are not alone in your LADA-ism. You are not a freak. And your life is NOT over. It has, in fact, in many ways, just begun.