What do you see when you look at the boy pictured here? Class clown? Comic book addict? Well, you’d be right. But let me tell you what I see. First, I see the most wonderful young man on the planet – I am his mother, after all! But if I look even deeper, I see thousands of reason for gratitude and hope.
Zach was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of six. He will be thirteen in November. That is where the source of my gratitude stems. I know that sounds crazy. I am certainly not grateful that Zach has diabetes, but I am most grateful for all of the people who devoted their lives to making sure that my son can live a mostly normal life.
Did you know that until 1922, just over 90 years ago, the average life expectancy for someone diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes was frequently weeks or days following diagnosis? I am grateful for the doctors who discovered insulin and refined the process to isolate it for human injection. I am grateful to the parents of Leonard Thompson who volunteered their 14-year-old son as the first person to receive an insulin injection to treat Type 1 diabetes. They received the ultimate reward: 13 more years with their son. What an amazing feat that must have seemed in those days!
Did you know that up until the 1980s the most common method of home glucose measurement was a urine test strip? This was a most inconvenient method of testing. In addition, it provided information about blood glucose that was inaccurate and hours behind actual blood glucose levels. Diabetics today are able to monitor their real-time blood glucose levels and adjust insulin doses to keep glucose within set ranges. I am grateful for the scientists who helped develop the home blood glucose monitors and worked to make them more compact and accurate. This technology has allowed diabetics to gain better control of blood glucose levels and live healthier and longer lives.
The big news in our house this year was when Zach got an insulin pump. This amazing little device is smaller than my iPhone (and about as expensive as a late model used car!). Did you know that the first portable insulin pump was about the size of brick and weighed over a pound? I am grateful for the researchers who worked to perfect insulin delivery methods and improve technology to make more accurate and compact insulin pumps. It delivers insulin in a manner much closer to a healthy pancreas than shots are able to do. Zach loves that he now only needs a needle stick once every two days - as opposed to about ten needle sticks a day for insulin shots!
Although I am truly grateful for all the things mentioned above, being diabetic is still not easy. Zach pricks his finger to test his sugar between eight and ten times daily. Even with his pump, he still has to literally count every single carbohydrate that goes into his mouth to ensure the proper insulin delivery to metabolize his food and prevent high or low blood glucose. It is for this reason that I am so very hopeful when I hear of research to find a cure for Type 1.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) has been involved in providing funding for all of the advancements listed above and is involved in research to find the cure. We are so close! Your generous donations will help make the cure a reality for Zach (my sweet comic book addict and class clown) and all of the kids who have Type 1 diabetes. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!