By Devlin Francis | Staff Writer
More than 25 million people in America live with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. South student Bobby Lightbody ’15 is just one of them.
Lightbody was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes on Dec. 8, 2011, he said.
Type I Diabetes is hereditary and usually diagnosed in children and young adults, according to the American Diabetes Association. With Type I, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, which is needed to convert carbohydrates (sugars) and other foods into energy needed for daily life.
“I was in shock and disbelief, confused,” said Lightbody. “I had an extremely low chance of getting it, and never thought it would happen to me.”
Lightbody’s mother, Ann Lightbody, also has Type I Diabetes, and passed it onto him, he said.
“I was concerned (for Bobby) because I knew what lied in store,” said Ann Lightbody. “I had experienced it first hand, and knew what Bobby would have to go through.”
Since then, Lightbody said his life has changed. He now lives with a strict diet, and has to go through several procedures to check his blood sugar levels, he said.
“Before I was diagnosed, I would eat whatever I wanted,” said Lightbody. “I could eat an entire sleeve of Oreos if I wanted to, but now I have to limit myself to three.”
However, Oreos aren’t the only junk food Lightbody is supposed to stay away from. Lightbody’s diet is very strict, and he has to measure the amount of carbs in everything, then pump a certain amount of insulin into his body to break them down.
The more food he eats, the more insulin he has to pump into his body, Lightbody said.
“My diet is definitely healthier now then it use to be,” said Lightbody. “My doctors told me I could eat mostly whatever I want, as long as I put enough insulin into my body to count for the food I put in. But I definitely steered away from all the junk food I use to eat, because I knew it would be better for my health.”
In order to check his blood sugar levels, Lightbody said he must take a blood sample and insert it into a Blood Glucose Meter, he said.
Lightbody also has to have an insulin pump stuck into his stomach at all times to pump insulin into his body after each meal, he said. The pump is attached to a wire, which is attached to an electronic pump and insulin cartridge which Lightbody keeps at his waist, he said.
“At first, people usually think it’s a pager or a phone,” said Lightbody. “Then they find out what it is, and learn that I have diabetes, and they’re mainly sympathetic.”
The procedure Lightbody goes through with his pump is very critical for his health, he said.
“I have to have the pump to give me a continuous flow of insulin, since my pancreas can’t produce it,” said Lightbody. “Without it, my body wouldn’t be able to break down and digest food, and I wouldn’t have the energy necessary to live.”
Lightbody’s pump procedure must be exact, he said. He spends over an hour each day monitoring it in order to stay healthy.
After each meal, Lightbody must count up the amount of carbs and enter them into the machine. Then, it divides the carb amount by the amount of insulin, and produces a ratio of one unit of insulin for every nine carbs consumed, he said.
Every three days, the cartridge is replaced with a new one, which is filled with a proper insulin amount determined by Lightbody’s endocrinologist, or diabetes doctor. Along with replacing the cartridge, he must also remove the patch and needle, and then inject a new one into his body.
“It’s a painful process,” said Lightbody. “I have to basically rip the patch and needle out, and it hurts sometimes. But I’ve gotten use to it, and learned to live with it.”
Despite these struggles, Lightbody has adapted to life with diabetes, he said.
“It really opened my eyes to how close I am to death every day, and how I need to take my faith seriously,” said Lightbody.
Lightbody, a Baptist Christian, said his faith has improved vastly since his diagnosis over a year ago.
“Honestly everyday is a struggle, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without God giving me this disease,” said Lightbody. “It comforts me knowing that God has a plan for everyone, and he is ultimately in control.”
Lightbody is not upset at all that he is diabetic, he said.
“There’s no reason for me to be upset,” said Lightbody. “God gave me this, and as a Christian, who am I to question him or my faith?”
Through time, Lightbody’s faith and spirit have stood strong, and he has adapted to life with diabetes, he said.
“Diabetes is part of my everyday life now,” said Lightbody. “I just have to accept that and make to best out of it that I can.”
1. Diabetes is a group of diseases characterized by high blood glucose levels that result from defects in the body’s ability to produce and/or use insulin.
2. An estimated 25.8 million Americans have diabetes, roughly 8.3% of the population.
3. Type I diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes.
4. In Type I, the body, specifically the pancreas, does not produce insulin, needed to break down food for energy.
5. Type II diabetes is the most common form of diabetes.
6. In Type II, the body may or may not produce insulin, but cells do not accept it in order to break down food.
All facts courtesy of the American Diabetes Association [/info]