When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, we were told that type 1 usually doesn’t run in families. With my family that was certainly true. But a few months later, we found out that one of my second cousin’s on my mom’s side was diagnosed about the same time as me. It was weird because we were close to the same age and in the same generation and both diagnosed with type 1 diabetes within the same year (I think).
What I have found out over the last year or so, learning about genetics and biology and about my own family, is that I do have a lot of thyroid disease and rheumatoid arthritis on my mom’s side of the family. These are all considered autoimmune diseases. I learned in my genetics class this summer that often times type 1 diabetes shows up in families with histories of these types of diseases.
Autoimmune diseases are interesting to me. This human body, which is so intricately designed to fight against intruders, decides to go overboard and attack things that aren’t intruders. In fact, they are its own body. Weather it be joints, thyroid glands, or islets of Langerhans, the body decides somehow that they are foreign and must be destroyed.
I don’t know why my body got misinformed. It just did. I’ve also heard some things floating around that perhaps viruses trigger our bodies to attack themselves. This would explain something like identical twins where one has an autoimmune disease and one does not. But I don’t remember ever being sick. In fact, the sickest I remember ever being was having the stomach flu on thanksgiving one year AFTER I was diagnosed with diabetes.
It’s all so crazy. Why me? Why this disease? Will I ever know? Will further genetic research explain the truth? Perhaps find a cure?
I don’t know.
I do know that I had a blast at my family reunion this weekend. And I got to hang out with my Type 1 diabetic cousin. She’s pretty awesome.
Oh, and this was taken at Bonnie Doon’s Drive In in Mishawaka, Indiana. And yes, we both ate ice cream.