November 14, 2011

Today is THE day that the planet takes pause to recognize the world pandemic that is diabetes.  Started by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), the Day is celebrated on 14 November to mark the birthday of Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, was instrumental in the discovery of insulin in 1922, a life-saving treatment for diabetes patients. 

The raw facts surrounding this disease in the US are astonishing, to the point of being almost unimaginable:
  • 25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes.
  • In 2007 Diabetes contributed to 231,404 deaths
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness among adults aged 20-74
  • In the US, every 19 seconds, someone is diagnosed with diabetes
  • The total of annual direct and indirect costs related to diabetes care is $196 Billion
On the world stage the trend is similar, and the numbers are equally staggering:
  • 346 million people worldwide have Diabetes
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, amputation, and kidney failure
These statistics are numbing. 

There is simply no other way to describe them.

We speak of those numbers in these grand ways - struggling to put perspective on just how out of control this disease is in terms of proliferation.   However the toll and cost is REALLY measured on the damage it does to individual who have it, their families, and loved ones.

I've been personally battling and raging against Type 1 diabetes for 3.5 decades, and with that experience comes the opinion that one CANNOT possibly measure this disease JUST in the sum of those radical numbers.  

Diabetes MUST first, instead, be computed in the number of finger sticks, injections, site changes, tears, hours of lost sleep, sacrificed careers, hours and miles of trips back and forth to schools, total of special snacks brought to school, thousands of miles ridden with a temporary basal rate, and the like, of each and every diabetic individually.

Just for the record, my numbers are:
  • 84,000 finger sticks
  • 52,000 injections
  • 800 infusion site changes
  • 638,750 units of insulin
  • More miles and tears than I can count
I've seen the cost.  Witnessed the damage, the pain, and the frustration.

The doubts.

The fear.   

All first hand.

And I know that most of you who have read this blog before have as well.

Another perspective... Diabetes affects so many people of all walks of life. I never knew anyone with Type 1 diabetes until I was an adult...there was a patient in the office I worked in who was Type 1 and I was so intrigued by her efforts to be freed of this disease. I always admired how well she took care of herself...and how much she disliked this disease....weird, because years little son, my little small, with his little spiderman underwear on....was diagnosed with the same disease. I was devastated. I did not understand the sobering facts about living with diabetes. I didn't understand the cost and toll of managing this disease would take on me or my little one....because I didn't see it on TV. I didn't hear about it on the radio. No one told me sitting in that hospital room, that day, what was ahead of me....of him. I just got the bare boned facts...and a large bag of supplies to the tune of $1400.
Fast forward a year and a half. I am still learning...and every day, a fact about diabetes drops my heart into my shoe. My son is facing a mountain of medical issues that I may or may not be able to thwart off. He is never going to out grow or leave behind his disease. He is living with Type 1 for the rest of his kills me to type that. Why am I posting on this blog then? Because advocacy brought me into a community of people who are educated and dispell myths, correct inaccuracies and walk the exact same walk I do daily. All with out benefit of a center stage presence. It is something to behold. Diabetes was something only grandmother's had....not my child. I quickly learned that not only was my son far from alone in this disease, but I was surrounded with a hedge of protection...from people who live with diabetes. I quickly learned that you can live a normal life, and be as passionate a person as you can about awareness and still have the courage and class to take a newly diagnosed person by the hand and gently lead them to their new family. 

Today, Nov. 14th 2011, IS the opportunity to bond together, stand in unison, and tell the world what diabetes is REALLY all about.

Today, we stand hand in hand to promote the same thing...I can sit for hours and tell you, heart on my sleeve, that I want a cure. I know we all do. Today, is the day, we begin. 

World Diabetes Day part of it.

It's not so much about the big global numbers, as much as it is about diabetics like you and I, and our loved ones who bear the cross of this disease.  It's the opportunity for all of us, from all different backgrounds, to actively come together to tell our stories, share our experiences, and advocate for our plight.  

To form one united voice that screams.....

Cure Diabetes!!

And until that day arrives, and it will, we will all just Keep Choppin'!!

- Post by Diane Pridmore (mother of son, age 5, with Type 1 diabetes, and outspoken voice of the DOC) & Tony Cervati (Type 1 diabetic, Founder of the Type1Rider Organization, and Trek 29er Crew Mountain Bike Team member)