Understanding Type 1 Diabetes Audiobook
Tim learns how type 1 diabetes works in the body, what symptoms to expect and how to manage his blood glucose levels with insulin.
Rebecca: Hi there and welcome to a special audiobook installment of Jumo’s In My Words podcast series - bringing our award-winning comic books to life through your speakers!
At Jumo, we provide resources for children and families to understand, manage and own their health.
Narrator: Understanding Type 1 Diabetes with the Medikidz
Introducing the Medikidz. The Medikidz are superheroes who live on Mediland, a planet shaped like the human body. They are experts in health and illness and their mission is to teach you all about your body and how illness affects it.
Skindy: Hi I'm Skindy. I'm the expert on skin and bones.
Gastro: I'm Gastro, the expert on the digestive system.
Pump: Hey, I'm Pump. I'm the expert on the heart and blood vessels.
Axon: Greetings, I am Axon, the brain and nerves expert.
Chi: Hello, I'm Chi. I'm the expert on the lungs and respiratory system.
Abacus: And I am Abacus, guardian of the Medikidz.
Narrator: And this issue also features our star, Tim.
Tim: The two things I love most are soccer and SUGAR! Nothing makes me happier than a big spoonful of that sweet white goodness!
Gummy Cubs, we’re having a lot of fun, but you know I’m going to eat you all, right?
Gummy Bear 1: We know, Tim, and we can’t wait!
Gummy Bear 2: It’s what we’re made for! It’s our destiny!
Tim: But recently, I found out I’ve got to cut waaaay back on sugar and eat more things like vegetables! Thing is: vegetables are evil!
Let me out of here!
Carrot: Not until you eat all your brussels sprouts!
Tim: Brussels sprouts? You monsters!
I dunno, Mr. Fuzzy, things were just so much easier before I got told I had diabetes!
Whatever that is.
Suddenly, I have to take medicines, watch what I eat, even how I play!
I feel like I have to change my whole life!
Gastro: Oooh I love understanding things! Only thing I love more than that is helping other people understand things. Well, that and making art!
Tim: Gastro? Abacus? What’s going on? What am I doing here?
Gastro: Saw your artwork, heard you talking, and realized YOU need a crash course in Type 1 diabetes, also called T1D!
Speaking of ART, how do you like my statue of Abacus? It’s like they’re twins!
Tim: I dig it!
Abacus: Scan indicates a 3% resemblance.
Tim: Where are we going?
Abacus: Teleporter set to planet designated MediLand, a celestial body that looks and works just like your own body.
Gastro: There are two main types of diabetes. Type 1, the one you have, is most common in children.
It affects how your body uses a type of sugar called glucose, and since glucose comes from food, we’ll start where food enters the picture, which is…IN THE MOUTH!
Tim: Umm, while this is all very cool, Gastro, perhaps we should…MOVE OFF THE GIANT AND VERY SHARP TEETH!
Gastro: Huh, well would you look at that. We’re about to become food mush! Hard to keep educating you if we’re food mush, wouldn’t you say, Abacus?
Gastro: Well then, I guess we should…JUMP!
Abacus: Thrusters engaged.
Tim: Man, we got lucky!
Gastro: Look, FOOD! We arrived right when MediLand was eating, how lucky is that?!
Come on, let’s follow the food!
Narrator: IN THE STOMACH…
Gastro: Your stomach breaks down your food...
Narrator: IN THE SMALL INTESTINE...
Gastro: ...which is then pushed into the small intestine. Here, all the useful nutrients are absorbed.
Tim: Finally, somewhere we can relax a little!
Gastro: One of these nutrients is glucose. Tim, meet Glucose! Glucose, meet Tim!
Abacus: Glucose is a fuel that your body uses for energy.
Tim: Wait, that mush becomes-- you?
Glucose: From mush to MAGNIFICENT! Now, keep up if you want to see us in action!
Narrator: IN THE BLOODSTREAM...
Gastro: Glucose travels around in your bloodstream so it can reach all the cells in your body
Tim: Umm, cells? What cells?
Gastro: THESE CELLS! Your body is made up of millions of these guys, and they all need glucose so they have enough energy to do their jobs and keep you healthy!
Tim: Whoa, cool! So, wait, why are the Glucose just standing around? Why don’t they go into the cells?
Gastro: That’s because the cells are LOCKED, and the only way for glucose to get in is if our good friend INSULIN lets them in!
See, INSULIN is the KEY to the locked cells!
Insulin: Yeah, it’s no big deal--just--ya know…your cells can’t get ENERGY without me!
Tim: So cool!
Gastro: The cell is now fully charged with energy and ready to do its job to keep you healthy!
Tim: What exactly is insulin?
Abacus: Insulin is a hormone. It’s made in the pancreas.
Gastro: And the pancreas is our next stop!
Narrator: IN THE PANCREAS…
Gastro: Welcome to the pancreas! Normally, this is where your beta cells make insulin!
But in Type 1 Diabetes, things are a bit different.
Tim: Different how?
Gastro: Oh, different like-- your immune system thinks Beta Cells are bad guys and attacks them so they can no longer make insulin! That kind of different!
Beta Cell: Told you there was a secret germ lab in here! GET THEM!
Tim: Bad different. Got it!
Gastro: Umm, I think it’s time to leave. Abacus, activate teleporter.
Tim: But without insulin, glucose can’t enter the cells, right?
Gastro: Yep, which means that cells don’t get the energy they need, and glucose builds up and up in the blood.
Glucose: Let us in!
Don’t leave me out here. I think I heard wolves!
Abacus: Not enough energy for the cells makes you feel tired and hungry. You may also lose weight
Gastro: Your body will try to get rid of all that extra glucose in your blood by peeing it out.
This means you’ll need to go to the bathroom a lot and might feel super thirsty.
Feeling tired, losing weight, feeling hungry and thirsty, and peeing a lot, are symptoms of Type 1 diabetes.
Symptoms are clues that will make your doctor think you might have diabetes.
Narrator: BACK IN MEDI-HQ…
Tim: Okay, so the symptoms make the doctors THINK I have diabetes, but how do they know for sure?
Gastro: Good question! To be sure, your doctor will do a blood test.
Your doctor can then see how much glucose is in your blood.
Computer, magnify blood!
Ahh, see, there’s loads of glucose in there!
Now, you might have to have another blood test to make sure, but if your glucose is very high, it means that you have Type 1 diabetes.
Tim: But what can we do about it?
Gastro: Well, the goal of treating Type 1 diabetes is to keep your blood glucose levels in the normal range.
Your doctor will tell you the correct range for you.
Tim: But my body can’t make insulin anymore!
Gastro: Which is why you will have to take replacement insulin every day, either by injections or with an insulin pump.
Load up, MediLand needs our help!
Abacus: First up, we’ll talk about getting replacement insulin via an injection from an insulin pen.
Gastro: On one end of the pen is a very small, thin needle, which goes just under your skin. It might hurt a tiny bit for a really short amount of time
Your nurse will teach you and your parents how to do the injections.
Your parents might then do them for you, but soon you’ll be able to do your own injections!
Tim: Cool! Awesome!
Gastro: The replacement insulin acts just like insulin made in the body, and allows glucose into the cells
Abacus: The second option is an insulin pump. This is a device that has a cannula, which is a small, thin tube that sits just under your skin.
Gastro: A little bit of insulin will go into your body all the time!
And when you need extra insulin, all you have to do is press a button!
To keep track of how much glucose is in your blood, you can use a blood glucose meter.
It’s super simple to use! Press the meter on to a fingertip and a tiny needle will prick the skin. Press the drop of blood onto a test strip, and the meter will test it and tell you your blood glucose level!
Tim: So, I get the whole glucose needing insulin thing, but why does that mean I have to change how I eat?
Gastro: Lots of things can make your blood glucose level go too high, like not taking enough insulin, being sick, or--drum roll please--eating lots of food!
When you eat, your glucose level goes up. But not all foods are created equal!
Carbohydrates have the greatest effect on your blood sugar, so when eating them, choose healthy sources such as whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, and dairy products.
Abacus: Taking insulin and doing physical activity both lower your blood glucose. When you’re physically active, your body is working extra hard...so your cells use up lots of their fuel-glucose-and your blood glucose goes down.
Gastro: It’s really important for everyone to be physically active to stay healthy.
But for people with Type 1 diabetes, it’s extra important because it helps insulin to keep your blood glucose levels in the correct range.
Tim: Great, so I can’t eat the foods I love and have to exercise all the time. I might as well just become a hamster person, eating pellets and running in a wheel.
Gastro: You’re being way too dramatic!
You can still do what you love and eat the foods you love! The key to managing Type 1 diabetes is balance.
Over time, you’ll learn how to balance insulin, food, and exercise to keep your blood glucose levels just right.
Tim: Speaking of balance, this looks unbalanced! What’s up with all the glucose?
We gave the body insulin!
Gastro: Even if you do everything right, everyone with Type 1 diabetes will have highs and lows sometimes
Abacus: If your blood glucose is too high, you might feel some of the symptoms you had when you were diagnosed, like feeling tired, thirsty, and needing to pee all the time. This is called hyperglycemia.
Tim: Umm, is the cell supposed to be doing that?
Gastro: Err, not really!
If your glucose is too high, and you don’t have enough insulin to let glucose into your cells, then your cells can’t get the energy they need.
Your cells will try to use a different sort of fuel, and not necessarily a good one
The fuel they try to use produces a toxic waste called ketones.
Ketones can make you very unwell. This is called diabetic ketoacidosis.
Abacus: WARNING: check your ketone levels whenever your glucose levels are high
If your ketone levels are high, seek out medical assistance right away!
Tim: Whoa, what’s with the earthquake? And where the heck did all the glucose go?!
Gastro: Sometimes blood glucose levels can get too low, and you might feel shaky, dizzy, sweaty, and irritable. You might also have tingly lips and a headache.
Abacus: This is called hypoglycemia, or having a hypo.
Tim: The shaking is getting worse!
Gastro: Don’t worry, I’m ordering in a snack for MediLand!
A hypo is treated by taking some fast-acting carbohydrates.
These are foods that contain lots of glucose such as fruit juice, candy, fizzy drinks, or special glucose tablets.
Tim: Hey, the shaking stopped!
Gastro: Yup, that snack did the trick! Which reminds me, remember to carry some fast-acting carbohydrates with you all the time in case you have a hypo.
Things look to be back in balance here. Abacus, take us home!
Abacus: Affirmative, activating teleporter now.
Narrator: BACK IN MEDI-HQ…
Tim: Okay, so now I get what Type 1 diabetes is, but how did I get it in the first place?
Gastro: Great question! Disappointing answer: we don’t know!
Doctors are still trying to figure that out, but we do know it’s not from anything you did!
Type 1 diabetes can affect boys and girls at any age, and adults too!
It’s usually diagnosed between the ages of 9 and 14.
Tim: It’s just hard. None of my friends have diabetes, so I guess I sort of feel--alone. Ya know?
Gastro: Well, you are definitely not alone! In just the USA, more than one million people have Type 1 diabetes.
I bet there’s even another kid at your school with it.
And if you are feeling alone, there are lots of ways to connect with other kids with Type 1 diabetes, like online forums, meeting up at support groups in your local area, or meeting other kids at summer camps.
I know finding out that you have Type 1 diabetes was hard
It’s totally normal to feel that way, and totally okay to feel sad, angry, worried, and scared
...But with time, it will get easier, and living with Type 1 diabetes will feel like the new normal.
Type 1 diabetes lasts your whole life, and you’ll need regular check ups with your doctor. But remember, you aren’t in this alone!
You have a whole medical team that has your back!
Tim: Thanks, Gastro, I feel a lot better actually understanding what diabetes is, why I have to do things a bit differently now...and above all, being reminded that I’m not alone!
Gastro: Well, then I’d say that’s mission accomplished. Time for you to get back home!
Tim: I thought that with Type 1 Diabetes there was going to be a war between the things I like to do and the things I had to do.
Carrot: DEATH TO SUGAR AND ANYTHING THAT TASTES GOOD!
Gummy Bear 1: BRING IT ON, VEGGIE BOY!
Tim: But really, it’s all about balance!
Gummy Bear 2: We’re all best friends! We’re all best friends!
Tim: And I’ll let you in on a little secret, Mr. fuzzy, these veggies are actually pretty good!
The big thing I learned is that I can still have fun...and I can still…be me!
Rebecca: Thanks for listening. Interested in hearing something special or want to share your story? Reach out to us. We'd love to hear from you. See you next time!
The health information provided in this podcast is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace discussions with a health care provider.
In My Words is produced in New York City and distributed worldwide.
In My Words - A Jumo Production