Week 13. DM = Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes, Greek, to pass; mellitus, Latin, honeyed or sweet.

In 1552 B.C., Egyptian physician Hesy-Ra noticed that ants were attracted to the urine of those with a mysterious disease that also caused emaciation.

150 AD, Greek physician Arateus described the illness as, "the melting down of flesh and limbs into urine."

Today we know diabetes as a disorder of carbohydrate metabolism--the body cannot utilize and store sugars effectively. Characteristic symptoms include the three polys: polyuria, polydipsia, and polyphagia (lots of pissing, drinking, eating). Long term, poor management of the illness can lead to cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney disease, and amputations.

Diabetes (type II) is also a disease of civilization; modern technology led to surplus calories compacted into innocuous servings, less physical activity, and obesity rates resulting from both increased energy intake and lack of energy expenditure.

A diabetic can be spotted from a singular, extended hand: calloused fingers dotted with recently dried blood, fingertips rough with scars from innumerable fingersticks over the years. Three times a day, a diabetic experiences a sharp lancet to pulsing fingertip, and then that finger is milked to produce enough blood for the glucometer. After a few shrill beeps, a numeric blood glucose value determines whether the diabetic gets a shot, and if so, how many units of insulin will be injected into soft, subcutaneous tissue. The injections scar as well.

Do not inject insulin in the same spot every time--a permanent hole of scar tissue (that absorbs little to no insulin) will form.

Do not eat a giant piece of chocolate cake and chase it with an insulin shot.

Not everyone can handle the too-sweet things in life, which are usually bad for one, anyway, ending up in the blood, causing undesired systemic effects.


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