A fun approach to helping young people newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes understand the condition has been launched in the form of a new comic book.
Type 1: Origins has been developed by diabetes experts from Southampton and Portsmouth and is based on the title of hit Marvel series Wolverine: Origins.
The comic features the story of a young man, Gary, who comes to terms with being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and his newly acquired “special powers” of shock, surprise, acceptance and understanding of how he will cope.
A new comic aims to help young people with type 1 diabetes learn about living with the condition following diagnosis
Gary was inspired by Wolverine, a member of Marvel’s X-Men, a team of superheroes who fight for peace and equality. His character was a mutant - a sub-species of a human - born with superhuman powers such as the ability to heal and regenerate damaged parts of his body.
Dr Partha Kar, of Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, and associate national clinical director for diabetes for NHS England, said: “The idea is that this comic book puts some of the challenges of living with type 1 diabetes out into the public domain in a way that has not been done before. Different people respond to the diagnosis in different ways - some like to talk it through, with others preferring to read books and leaflets.”
Dr Kar teamed up with Dr Mayank Patel, of University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, and DRWF Editorial Advisory Board member, to develop the idea with a group of patients and the help of the Revolve Comics publishing company.
Despite accounting for around only 10% of the total number of people with the condition, type 1 diabetes is often confused with type 2, which is often linked to obesity and more common in older people.
Dr Patel said: “The two types of diabetes are often reported in the media as the same, despite there being several key differences between both types. As a group, people with type 1 diabetes can therefore feel excluded and deal with ignorance about their disease on a regular basis, which can be frustrating, if not exhausting. The hope is that this comic book provides another means of spreading the type 1 diabetes message through art and that the story will inform and educate anyone who reads it.”
He added: “In addition, for those readers who are newly-diagnosed, they will feel more empowered to look after themselves. It is possible to live a long, healthy life with type 1 diabetes.”
Danny McLaughlin, founder of Revolve Comics, based in Derry, Northern Ireland, said: “The comic is designed to engage and inform, in a hopeful and warming way, specifically for the teenage age group.
“The story follows a young man as he journeys through what would be a typical situation for any young person who would be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes from symptoms, to diagnosis, to living with it - but it’s done with a bit of fun.”
He added: “Gary, the young boy, faces learning about ketones which can make your blood acidic - so obviously he would see himself like the X-Men mutant superheroes and how he would differ from everyone else - but, by the end, he finds he is not alone.”
Type 1: Origins is available now here