Monday, September 23, 2013

Immune Systems Gone Wild

The following has very little basis on scientific fact. It's just some things I've theorized after having type 1 diabetes for 33 years and the various other "side effects" that come along with it.

For a guy with type 1 diabetes, I'm actually quite healthy. When I was first diagnosed 33 years ago they didn't know exactly what caused type 1 diabetes. They still don't. The best educated guess going is that the immune system attacks the insulin producing cells in the pancreas. It's, yet another, autoimmune disease.

They say that even if they could cure the pancreas, the immune system would just attack it again. I've read reports on how they are trying to figure out how to "reboot" the immune system. I kind of believe that the reason they don't know what causes type 1 diabetes is because it can have several different causes.

About 5 years ago I was diagnosed with adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder) on my left arm. When I was diagnosed the doctor said, "They don't know what exactly causes it. It tends to set in after you reach the age of 40. About 2% of the population gets it. 10% of people with type 1 diabetes get it."

In my neurotic head, I'm thinking, "great, so what other gifts will type 1 diabetes bestow upon me as I age?"

A few years ago, I was diagnosed with Dupuytren's contracture. Here again, they don't know what causes it, but people with type 1 diabetes tend to get it more often than people without type 1 diabetes. Why is this?

Last year I had hip surgery on my right hip. I remember my first physical therapist telling me that my hip was behaving a lot like frozen shoulder. The doctors were not sure what was wrong with my hip. They did x-rays, MRI's etc. I had so many tests done, I probably glowed in the dark. They finally fixed it with some arthroscopic surgery, but I've read that frozen hip is very commonly misdiagnosed.

Last June my right shoulder started hurting. I went to the doctor today and once again have been diagnosed with frozen shoulder. It just switched arms so that no one felt left out.

Interestingly, the doctor today said if they took a sample from the damaged tissue in my shoulder (from adhesive capsulitis) and a sample from the damaged tissue in my hands (from the Dupuytren's) and sent them to a pathologist, the pathologist would say both samples were the same.

Today, on the car ride back from the doctor's office, I'm thinking, they don't need to cure type 1 diabetes. They need to cure the faulty immune system. Sometimes the immune system does more harm than good. And maybe all the diseases that are seen more often in people with type 1 diabetes are not really caused by diabetes at all, but are all caused by an over active immune system.

How many diseases are caused by the immune system? Some are caused by the immune system not properly killing off foreign cells.Others are caused by the immune system damaging healthy cells. I suppose it's probably quite difficult to fix a faulty immune system.

No comments:

Post a Comment