I spent four hours yesterday in an “advanced” diabetes care class, trying to pack even more information into my tired (and at the same time ravenous) brain. The one thing that was most valuable for me from that class was being told that complications are not inevitable. All of the horrible problems that we usually associate with diabetes – loss of sensation and circulation in the feet and legs resulting in amputations, wounds that won’t heal, heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, etc. – those complications are all caused by poor blood sugar control, specifically chronically high blood sugars. As our diabetes educator put it, “There is no reason to believe that any of your kids have to have any of these complications. In fact, I would say that they won’t have these complications because you guys (meaning the parents present) are keeping tight control of their blood sugars, and you’re teaching them to do the same thing.”
Diabetes care and management has progressed in leaps and bounds just in the past ten years, and it’s going to continue progressing exponentially, with significant breakthroughs occurring every few years. From insulin pumps, to continuous glucose monitors, to the Artificial Pancreas Project that’s just now going into trials, we’re getting closer and closer to managing blood sugars almost as well as a perfectly functioning pancreas. And, now that stem cell research is no longer the dirty word it used to be, the doors may be thrown wide open for finding treatments to regrow and replace those precious beta cells within the next decade. That, my friends, would constitute a CURE. A real, live, permanent CURE for type 1 diabetes.
All things considered, this is a pretty good time to get type 1 diabetes. As much as it sucks – and believe me, it sucks - there is a big, huge light at the end of the tunnel, and it ain’t a train. All of the daily testing and injections, the counting carbs, the setting a timer to remind me T-Bear has to eat every two hours, the changing insulin/carb ratios, the reporting numbers to the doctor twice a week, the keeping track of supplies (there’s an entire backpack full of ‘em), the extra planning required for a simple outing (that got kind of long, sorry) – all that goes into keeping T-Bear healthy right now, well that’s all going to pay off very soon. It’s only right now, it doesn’t have to get any tougher than it is right now, and it’s not going to be forever. Halleluiah, and a great big, sloppy “THANK YOU” smootch to every individual out there who is intently working toward the cure that will come soon. Thank you, thank you, thank you, and please keep it up. We’re waiting with baited breath.
(Note: If you’re just dying to make a small contribution toward the phenomenal research that is going on RIGHT NOW, please go here. And, while you're there, feel free to browse around and find out more about T1. It's really not what most people think it is.)