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Then and Now: The More Things Change …

October 10, 2013
  1. I’m grateful I was able to get some antibiotics, so my sinus infection is doing much better.
  2. I’m happy Meg and I started early with our music snobbery, and turned Owen on to some groovy music. (Last night he sang himself to sleep to “September” by Earth Wind & Fire.
  3. I’m grateful Sam Elliott mentioned The Smiths and Morrissey on Parks and Recreation.
Recently I’ve written about the new developments in diabetes management, technology wise. (You can see the posts here and here.) It’s gotten me to thinking about how everything has changed over the 30-odd years since I was first diagnosed.

First and foremost, some of my earliest recollections from when I was diagnosed are of public service announcements from Bobby Clarke and Mary Tyler Moore, the then-spokespeople for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA), saying the cure was just around the corner.

I don’t necessarily believe that anymore. (Or, at least, it’s one hell of a big-assed corner we’re dealing with.)

I’m OK with this, though. I know I’ll have some amount of work to do, forever, and that’s just the way it is. I can remember, at different points over the years, thinking about how profound the change would be if I just didn’t have to test my sugar and take insulin every day.

The answer: A lot.

I can also remember being in grade school, before glucose tablets were available at every pharmacy, being armed with sugar cubes wrapped in aluminum foil.

Also, testing blood sugar in the early ’80s was a major pain in the ass, so determinations about the majority of my treatment options was based on being attuned to what my body was telling me.

My first glucometer was about the size of a small end table, and it took about five minutes — and a fair amount of blood drawn from my fingertips — to get a reading. It was a pain in the ass.

I used bovine insulin for years and years, until the synthetics were developed. Then it was a switch from two syringes (Regular and NPH) a day, and dealing with the highs and lows throughout the day, to insulin pens and glucose meters that fit in a pocket and give readings in five seconds with much less blood needed.

Now, as I mentioned before, we have pumps and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), which makes care, on the whole, a lot easier.

With all the technological advances that have been made, I feel like the cure is still just as far off as it’s always been.

Why? Well, mainly because keeping me diabetic means a guaranteed for the pharma companies and supplies companies. Maybe the great minds who could be curing this condition are, instead, working on developing maintenance drugs and ways to manage the disease.

The big advocacy groups have made philosophical changes over the years, too. The ADA is now more focused on the pandemic Type 2 condition (and I don’t care what anyone says; it isn’t the same disease).

Not too long ago the JDRF changed their platform from one advocating finding a cure to pushing for the development of an artificial pancreas.

Hopefully there’s a geneticist who’s getting a bee in his/her bonnet about how to fix the genes related to diabetes, so a person getting diagnosed with Type 1 will be a rarity.

Please don’t take any of this to be a complaint about the lot I have in life. (In particular because my lot is pretty fu$&ing awesome: great parents, great family, great friends. I have NOTHING to complain about.)

I think the world has gotten remarkably better. I just don’t think the cure is nearby, let alone around the corner.

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