Thursday, April 18, 2013

What does a cure mean to you?

I emailed the man Jon met at the pool. It was a very brief email, because I wasn’t sure what type of information, connection, support he was looking for. He emailed me back a very long email that I’ve only read once. I will need to read it at least one more time before I actually respond.

I fully admit that I don’t know what it’s like to be diagnosed. I was 2! I don’t really have any memories before I was 7, so being diabetic is how I grew up. I don’t know what it’s like to NOT have diabetes. In some ways, I’m glad for that. But, I think, because I’ve had diabetes for so long, I’ve become somewhat jaded to those that are oh, so hopeful that because their diabetes is in good control now (honeymoon period) it will always be this easy, and that a cure is right around the corner. I remember being in 4th or 5th grade and distinctly remember hearing/reading that doctors though a cure would emerge in the next 15 years. Well, it’s now 24 years later and we are nowhere near a cure.

Don’t get me wrong, I still get excited and hopeful when I hear of advancements in diabetic research, research towards a cure or research towards reversing diabetes in newly diagnosed individuals or research towards better and easier treatment options, but I’m also realistic. Just because we hear of a few scientists who have made a breakthrough in a lab doesn’t mean that it’s not a very long journey and time-frame to get that research from a lab and into the marketplace.

Another thing this man said, at the very end of his email, really pissed me off. He was talking about the diet that he follows (high fat, low carb). He stated that it’s the cure for diabetes. This statement just infuriated me when I read it, and still does when I read it again. It occurred to me this morning, that we obviously have different definitions for the word cure. I think he thinks that a cure is keeping his blood sugars stable and in control while using as little insulin as possible. That is certainly not my definition.

My definition of a cure, at this point, is being able to live without worrying what my blood sugars are doing (regardless of what I eat*) and knowing that my body is producing its own insulin and regulating its own blood sugars without me intervening on a regular basis. Eve a closed-loop system is not a cure, as I would still need to wear medical devices, check my blood sugar to calibrate the sensor, refill the insulin/glucose reservoirs and change the infusion set(s). At this point, the closest thing to a cure is an islet cell transplant, but even with that, there are issues of possibly rejecting the transplant or having the islet cells die (again), and then going back to being Type 1 again.

I’m not sure what a cure will be, or even when it will come, but I know that I am grateful to have the technology available that offers me the chance to keep my diabetes in control. Keeping it in control is a completely different story.

*We all know that we should eat a healthy diet, so there needs to be some consciousness of what we’re putting in our mouths.

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