The Guys Guide to Type 1 Diabetes

10/5/18
WRITTEN BY: Matt Tarro
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Editor’s Note: Beyond Type 1 is powered for and by the Type 1 diabetes community. If resources like this make a difference in your life, please support the POWER UP Campaign today to make our work possible!


Let’s talk guy stuff … and diabetes. This guide is aimed at any dude newly diagnosed with T1D, or any guy just needing to revisit the basics. We’ll talk about different personal styles of treatments and how you can prepare for the normal day-to-day challenges associated with diabetes. What tools we use, how we use them, and why it’s important to do so are also important topics we’ll examine.

Significant others, friends, family and coworkers play a tremendous role in our lives with T1D and we salute them. The larger social support system has grown as a valuable resource and your impact can make a huge difference. If we don’t touch on a subject you’re eager to talk about, please visit the Beyond Type 1 website and submit a written story. Don’t forget to showcase your IG profile and send in a fun photo for our Instagram wall.

We sourced our councils for helpful information to arm you in the daily battles diabetes throws at us. Don’t forget, we’re looking to win the war – not every battle can be won.

Insulin!

Imagine our bodies were race cars – most of the world would enjoy an automatic transmission, whereas Type 1’s are the manual hot-rods on the circuit. Making decisions about how much insulin you need is normally something regulated by an internal organ – the pancreas! For men (and women) with Type 1 diabetes, the administration of the insulin hormone is done manually every day via syringe, pen, pod or pump.

There are a lot of different insulin options on the market, with different methods of ushering glucose into your cells. This can be compared when examining the hormone’s action and duration time. Here are some examples:

Rapid-acting (R, Afrezza)                                                      10 – 30 minutes
Short-acting (Novolog, Humalog, Apidra)                         30 minutes – 1 hour
Intermediate-acting (NPH)                                                  1.5 – 4 hours
Long-acting (Lantus, Tresiba, Levemir, Toujeo)              18 – 24 hours

A majority of the world administers their insulin via syringe or an easy-to-use pen-system. It’s the most cost-effective method and the least invasive to your body. Timing and responsibility for administering insulin is key. Staying vigilant for an entire day’s worth of upkeep to the endocrine system is a lot of work. It’s typical to take one long-acting shot and many rapid/short-acting shots throughout the day.

Weather, stress and normal day-to-day activities could alter how your body reacts to these third-party hormones. Keep your head on a swivel, gents.

Learn more about insulin delivery methods.

Devices

Pumps! Pods! CGMs! PDMs! Test Kits! So many devices, so little pocket space. Get a cool backpack or fanny pack to carry your stuff and be responsible. How you get your insulin and when you check your blood glucose is your choice – but it can be a difficult one to make sometimes. Not wanting to carry things around with you is normal, but it’s much better than not taking it with you. 

  • Blood glucose meter, The oldest device in the diabetes family has been one to read the amount of glucose in your bloodstream from a single small sample. Although that hasn’t always been the case and times have certainly changed (they used to test urine samples everyday). New needle every injection.
  • Insulin Pumps administer the insulin options noted in the section above. They’re attached to your skin with adhesive and connected by a plastic tube. The needle that pierces your skin can only be felt for a second and then it’s retracted / discarded. Site changed every 3 days
  • Pods do the same as pumps, but they’re a tubeless insulin delivery method and require carrying a small Personal Diabetes Management tool, like a beeper (remember those?). Site changed every 3 days
  • Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) systems are implanted by you every 7-10 days, but this unit will not administer any hormones into your bloodstream. It’ll just read the shallow interstitial fluids under your skin as opposed to your actual blood glucose. Site changed every 7-10 days

The utility of our gadgets

Occasionally, Super heroes will wear armor or carry a shield displaying their strength and honor. Here’s a secret – the powers they possess come from inside – unless you’re Bruce Wayne (Batman). These devices may not seem like the coolest thing to have on your body, but learning about them can be helpful. Be kind and respectful – not everyone understands the details yet!

Community

Whether you’ve met another person with Type 1 diabetes or not, involvement in the overall diabetes community is easy! You’ve taken the first step joining us here on Beyond Type 1 and appreciate your interest in learning more.

This is really everything from joining our BT1 mobile APP to hosting your own T1D themed event! Start by opening your mind about who you can reach and how you can reach them. Outreach can be done on any social platform where you’re able to respectfully contact another individual. Start by sending a message and introduce yourself.

Host some pick-up basketball games, play a round of golf, organize a group going to a baseball game, join a board-game league, start your own Fortnight T1D club, start a chess club … whatever it takes. Don’t be shy!

There are currently 17 active programs available – and we’re always happy to hear about more opportunities. Outreach, education and advocating for a cure are action items we need YOUR help with. If you’ve excelled in other methods to recruit positive minds, do it. Let’s start engaging as many people as we can to talk about a cure – it needs to happen.

These projects usually start with a small simple idea and take form after many, many rounds of discussion. Often those brainstorms happen over a happy-hour or a Type 1 specific meet-up set up by community member.

JOIN US

Meetups

Interested in getting some people together?

Here are a few tips for setting up a meet-up:

Public spaces are super fun and open spots, they’re easy to find, and typically have parking – and best of all they don’t cost anyone, anything. This could be a park meet-up with volleyball and ice-breakers, a basketball game, or something like a Type One Run chapter meet-up.

If you’re more interested in hosting an event, keep these things in mind.

  • If there is any activity involved, having snacks for attendees can be VERY helpful and kind.
  • Have games, icebreakers or take-aways for your guests.
  • Presentation makes a difference – a little effort goes a long way.
  • If you host, think ahead about topics you might want to cover
  • Remember to listen! It’s important that everyone has a voice in a crowded room
  • BE KIND! Not everyone is as far along on their journey as others

Extra baggage

When you ask, “Did you bring any snacks?” most people answer, “No.”

Ask someone with Type 1 diabetes, and we usually respond with “Yeah, what did you need?”

While we do our best to prepare for exercise and stressful situations, remind yourself that having a normal day can easily cause your blood glucose levels to crash or rise out of control. Stock up on small, no-sugar added remedies to these annoying but serious episodes. This preparation leads to finding a small pharmacy in our pockets/bags. Some items to think about stashing around your normal spots if you don’t carry them everywhere you go.

  • Glucose tabs
  • Apple Juice box
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Extra test strips
  • Extra lancets (haha)
  • Extra battery for pump/CGM
  • More Glucose tabs

If needed, bursts of added-sugar make sense, but they should not be used too often as processed sugars are simple sugars.

Daily care

Not in this order, but things that usually take up a good part of your day regardless of how much time you spend on each of these.

  • Eating right
  • Walking the dog/looking for your cat
  • School
  • Your Job
  • Social media
  • Significant other
  • Working out
  • Friends
  • Care for your diabetes every day!

Have fun, enjoy your life, never forget why you’ve made it where you are. It’s important to stay structured and disciplined but you’re only human – and we make mistakes. If you lost your way, there are options to find your path again.

What we eat

Who doesn’t love food??

Calculations about how much you’re eating and the appropriate amount of insulin can be a hard task every meal, every day. Diets should be reflective of the lifestyle you live since we’re all made differently. It’s easy to forget about the repercussions when frequent spurts of unhealthy eating strike.

When going out to dinner – how you care for your diabetes isn’t everyone’s business! If you chose to make it so, then you’ll have opportunities to answer direct questions. Actually, helping you understand your friends level of understanding. If you don’t want ice cream after dinner, don’t assume everyone thinks you aren’t fun. Explain how spikes are times when our blood sugar rises rapidly due to certain circumstances.

Read The 5 Most Common Party Foods and What it Means for Blood Sugar Management.

What we feel

Feelings and emotions are different than how we act sometimes. It’s very, very important to make sure your friends, family, classmates or coworkers are aware you have Type 1 diabetes. Mentioned a few times throughout this guide, sometimes our levels are out of range and we need to identify for ourselves what’s happening.

Here are the symptoms of highs (hyperglycemia) and lows (hypoglycemia):

  • High symptoms: nausea, deep sighing breaths, confusion, flushed and warm skin, drowsiness
  • Low symptoms: shaky, pale and sweaty skin, headache, hunger, weakness, trembling

If you recognize signs of a low or a high, the first thing to do care for yourself immediately. Most Type 1s know how to treat these circumstances and will do what they usually do to correct them.

When low – consume sugar immediately. Glucose tabs are just small, chalky bits of sugar that dissolve instantly when saliva touches it.

When high – exercise or administer a small amount of insulin for a correction. Either way can lower the amount of sugar in your system.

Sex

Topic of choice – naturally. Yes, you can have sex with a pump on. No you won’t have to take any extra insulin before you strip down. As with any physical exercise though, we have to keep an eye on blood sugar levels and make sure we don’t drop too low. (That can be easily remedied with a high-sugar snack.) Candy and intercourse? Not a bad combo …

Getting to that point, can be a challenge. Regardless of your age or sexual preference, there is no denying the amount of time spent impressing potential mates. Having an autoimmune disease can add its own set of roadblocks.

Read more on Sex and Type 1 diabetes.

Mental health

Showing respect to other people regardless of their lifestyle, diet and actions should be more universal. Unfortunately, living with diabetes is like putting stress and anger into a pressure-cooker every morning. Start the day by setting a simple, achievable goal for yourself before the day’s end.

Check out this helpful link for a deeper look into the relationship of your mental and physical state

Booze & other

When alcohol is involved, it is extremely important to keep an extra eye on the symptoms of a low. Alcohol is one of the factors that can cause blood sugar levels to be more sporadic.


Check out our Booze Guide for how Type 1s navigate drinking alcohol safely. Read Marijuana and Type 1 Diabetes.



Matt Tarro

Matt (32) and Forest, his Diabetic Alert Dog, have made the west coast home over the last 5 years. Growing up in the smallest state of Rhode Island, community involvement has been rooted in Matt’s core fibers. Comedy and art have been a way to communicate with others so outreach and advocacy for Type 1 only came once he started to get a handle on his personal diabetes care. He’s used his home in Santa Monica, California as a base while traveling and exploring the Western United States after leaving a 10-year advertising career. As a passionate artist, photographer and videographer he’s searching for a life that possesses a healthier work-life balance. Preferably one surrounded by a lot of tall trees, snow and plenty of mountain bike paths. Stoked on becoming a Snowboard Coach for Riding on Insulin – catch him on a mountain!