I mentioned hope. In the days following Lia’s diagnosis, one of the first things we noticed in our efforts to understand diabetes was the plethora of information out there. Looking back through my internet search history for one day last week out of 289 different web pages I had visited for the day, eleven had nothing to do with diabetes. These were local or national news sites, social media or one of my kids surfing the web for a movie to watch. The other 278 were in some way connected to furthering my understanding of the ins and outs of this challenging disease.
Toward that goal, I’ve purchased or borrowed or checked out of my local library no less than a dozen books dealing with diabetes. I’ve watched web logs and spoken with family and friends of families and friends who’ve been touched by diabetes. Talked with nurses and doctors and pharmacists. Attended classes with educators. Read brochures and booklets and periodicals. Watched videos of children discussing their diabetes. And since bringing Lia home from the hospital, I’ve been part of an on the job training program like none other I’ve ever experienced.
Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot.
For instance, I learned that insulin must be stored in a refrigerator, not in the car in the hospital parking deck where it may sit for twenty-four hours. I’ve learned the importance of checking your pharmacy order for errors before you leave the store and not days later where you’re likely to discover they gave you the wrong test strip.
I’ve learned that if you make homemade pizza every Saturday night in order to enter figure the carb content of a typical serving, you need to know the weight of that pizza in ounces or 100 gram increments, not in terms of she eats two slices.
Also I’ve learned in relation to foods that vegetables and legumes are good for people with diabetes unless, of course, you’re talking about potatoes, corn or lime beans, which are technically fruits and have a high carbohydrate content.
I’ve learned that it matters where you inject and when you inject and whether you pinch the skin or not. That three a.m. blood sugar readings can keep you up the rest of the night no matter the number.
I’ve learned that Type 1 Diabetes makes up only about 10% of the seventeen million Americans diagnosed with the disease, the rest have Type 2, and that insurance does not consider either one life-threatening despite the fact that diabetes is the fifth leading killer of Americans and that a hundred years ago before the discovery of insulin, and thousands of years before that, the lifespan of a child post diagnosis of type 1 diabetes was measured in days, not years.
But I digress. I intended to speak about hope, not impediment. But the two as I’m learning are in fact intertwined. Obstacles spur hope, hope, in turn, illuminates the obstacles. To be sure they are what drive researchers all over the world in their focus on the prevention, cure and treatment of diabetes and its complications. Studies into self-regulating insulin, the artificial pancreas project, continuous glucose monitoring systems, which was cited in 2008 as one of the Top 10 medical breakthroughs by ABC News.
The list goes on: regeneration of insulin producing cells, cell replacement therapies, immune systems response studies, metabolic triggers, gastrin combination therapy, the growing global burden diabetes presents to the international community.
For someone so new to diabetes and still struggling with the sheer weight of the diagnosis, it is reassuring to learn there’s a wonderful community out there overcoming the obstacles one by one, learning in much the same way as we’re doing ourselves, through study and trials and errors, and an endless supply of hope.