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Living with diabetes: U of A Exhibit shows a diabetic's daily struggles

Strips and Needles diabetes exhibit
Posted at 6:24 AM, Jan 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-19 17:38:58-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Across the country, one in ten people were told they had diabetes in 2020 and a few years before, diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services about 600,000 people have type 2 diabetes and about 1,800 youth are diagnosed with type 1, both creating daily struggles for them and their families.

Over at the University of Arizona, there is a new exhibit in the health sciences library that is helping depict the day in the life for those with diabetes called Strips and Needles: A Day in the Life".

"My goal for the exhibit strips and needles is to serve a whole host of communities," Dr. Michael Lee Zirulnik, the exhibit's creator and type 1 diabetic, said. "To serve medical and allied health students, to serve families, to let families know that beauty can come out of things that are a challenge, and for people that have a hidden or visible disabilities, whether it's diabetes or something else."

Zirulnik cataloged over 3,000 test strips and insulin syringe needles into the panels of the exhibit, showcasing a full year of daily struggles for diabetics.

The Diabetes Prevention Program is a year long support group that helps those suffering with type 2 learn to create healthy lifestyle choices. The program's state director Vanessa da Silva said from stress management to a healthy diet, there are ways to help with type 2.

She said when someone is both chronically or acutely stressed, their blood sugar spikes, which is even more prevalent due to the pandemic.

"They’re also reporting that for those that have had COVID and the worse the infection is the higher the risk is for diabetes, type 1 or type 2," she said. "Our diabetes risk is higher in certain populations that are lower economic status, a hispanic/latino, or tribal, of which we have a lot here in Arizona.”

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