Many of you probably thought about a rocket launch and the countdown. When NASA launches a rocket, the countdown starts and is typically marked with “T minus 2 minutes”, etc. Once liftoff occurs, you switch to the plus side of the countdown.
Today marks T Plus 1 year for the Clayton family. When Kyle was diagnosed with Type I diabetes on January 31, 2000, many in the diabetes “club” talked of a cure being found within 10 years. Well, that came and went last year and we are still dealing with Kyle’s diabetes.
Am I bitter – maybe, but not too much. Yes, I would give my islets (inside joke) for him to be cured, but what will that cure look like? Eleven years ago, I thought a cure would be that Kyle would take a shot or IV and then, BOOM; he’s cured – no more shots, no more finger sticks. But today, Kyle is on an insulin pump which puts insulin into his body continually and allows up to dial up more insulin based upon what he eats. All this is done through an infusion site which he changes once every three days. There is also a Continuous Glucose Monitor (we don’t use) which is inserted under the skin and provides glucose readings once a minute and even has alarms for low or high glucose trends. Clinical trials are occurring which pair these two devices and let them “talk” to each other; creating an artificial pancreas. If this could be available, is this what the cure looks like? Maybe not in the traditional sense, but close.
I look back on what our diabetes regime was when Kyle was diagnosed. He was on two types of insulin (Humalog & Ultralente) which required 5 daily injections (at a minimum). We checked his blood sugar with a meter that took a very large drop of blood. We then would calculate his insulin dose using an insulin to carb ratio which we calculated ourselves. Today, his is on the insulin pump with one type of insulin. His meter calculates his dose based upon his reading and communicates with his pump via infrared signal.
Yes, we have come a long way, but there is still work to be done. The Clayton family became a member of a club that no one wants to be in eleven years ago. Though we didn’t want to be in it, we have met some great people in this club who have blessed our lives. Whether it is the great medical staff at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital and the Eskind Diabetes Center, the great staff at the Middle Tennessee JDRF chapter, the Type I kids and their parents, the JDRF friends we have met nationwide, or the faceless names of folks I have e-mailed on the web; all are great people who have blessed our family. I wish I had never met them, but I am glad that they were, and are, there.
Let’s not let number get too high on the “plus” side of T.
Zach, a Type I parent and a Tennessee Squire