Six local diabetes patients give human face to Diabetes Awareness Month

Although some people might be hesitant to share their medical problems, a group of six panelists shared their stories and blood sugar levels.

In honor of Diabetes Awareness Month, Jay Shubrook, diabetologist and associate professor at the Heritage College of Medicine, hosted a panel of six diabetes patients who live in the Athens area to explain how they handle the lifelong disease.

“I was raised with the idea that you have diabetes, but you do what you need,” said Dani Price, a panelist with type I diabetes and a sophomore studying neuroscience.

The panelists either had type I or type II diabetes, but there are more than 20 variations of diabetes, Shubrook said.

Both types can be genetic and often resemble each other as they progress, but the main difference between type I and type II diabetes is type I is an autoimmune disease, Shubrook said.

Both panelists with type I and type II diabetes developed their disease at different times in their life – from age 5 to late adulthood – but all the panelists said no matter the type, the disease is more about understanding the patient’s individual body.

“No doctor can tell you if you do x, y is going to happen, so you have to learn about the disease as a whole,” said Amanda Remnant, a panelist with type I diabetes and OU adviser and supplemental instructor.

To keep track of her disease, Remnant frequently checks her blood sugar and moderates her diet to compensate for a high or low blood sugar count.

“Who’s going to waste some insulin to drink a glass of orange juice?” Remnant said.

Michael Roth, a sophomore studying exercise physiology who attended the panel, said he was conscious of the possibility of developing diabetes because grandparents on both sides of the family had the disease, but he learned more about the specifics of living with the disease from the panel.

“You’re really the same human being.” Roth said. “The only thing is you have a different type of disease.”

The panel and the rest of the events during Diabetes Awareness Month, such as the Diabetes Dedication Tree displaying names of diabetes patients in Grover Center, will increase awareness of the disease, but also remind people that it’s not an unconquerable problem, Shubrook said.

“There (are) a lot of misconceptions…and I think they get in the way of, one, identifying diabetes and two, being able to properly address it, not only from a personal level but from a family level,” Shubrook said.

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