As a husband I want nothing more than the safety, security and overall health of my wife to be priority number one. It frustrates me to see no love for type 1 diabetics. What I mean by love is research and advancement in curing the condition. Not better treatment, a real actual cure or something close enough to it.
Admittedly treatment has come a long way. New pumps are are hitting the market that are smaller, smarter, and work better than ever. CGM’s (Continuous Glucose Monitor) are getting more accurate and help people manage their diabetes though live data and analytical software. New forms of insulin are being developed that work better. The can of syringes can be replaced with a jar of pen needles. With all this advancement why still do I say no love? Two reasons.
I applaud the FDA for it’s concept, protecting people from potentially harmful short and long term effects of drugs, food, medical devices, etc. What I don’t applaud is the length of process and stifling of innovation. It does take time to study potential side effects and any long term concerns with new treatments, but the FDA drags it feet especially with medical devices like insulin pumps. Medtronic is making a pump that can read CGM data and suspend insulin delivery automatically if blood glucose levels reach dangerously low levels. This is about as close to an artificial pancreas as we’ve come. Other companies have similar products that are in human trials in other countries, especially the EU, but not here. Thanks FDA, thanks for stifling progress. Shouldn’t diabetics be able to choose? If Marte runs high over night, the worst that could happen is key tones. But if she runs low, her device shutting off is a small inconvenience when compared with a diabetic coma.
It’s All About Type 2′s
Type 2 diabetes is medically preventable. There are stories of people become pre-diabetic, joining a program, and never becoming diabetic. There are also stories of people with full blown insulin dependent type 2 diabetes who’ve been able to reverse it. So it is no surprise that most of the research, programs, support groups, etc. is focused on type 2. But this is no less frustrating. It’s like type 1′s are left in the dust. Sorry kid, you have bad genes, good luck. Want to join this free workout program to help manage weight and your blood sugar? Sorry type 2′s only. Want to try this new medication to bring your A1C down, sorry that’s for type 2′s as well. Want to get free counseling, doctor visits… you get the point.
The Great Harvard Hope
The angry anti-capitalist in me wants to think that since curing diabetes won’t make money, no one cares. EXCEPT this guy. Harvard researcher Doug Melton has been able to coax stem cells to become beta cells, the type of cell that produces insulin that type 1 diabetics can’t make on their own due to the condition. Using this method he’s been able to cure diabetic mice with injections that last weeks and months, not hours.
So there is hope on the horizon. Harvard certainly is not short on cash, so hopefully his research will continue until we have a cure. That is of course, when and if the FDA approves of it.
The medical device community and this one Harvard professor aren’t the only ones giving love to type 1′s. I love my wife dearly, and while I can’t control the progress for a cure I can control how I will continue to support her. I see her happiness when she’s having a good blood sugar day, and her frustration when she’s not. I’ve learned more about it than I ever had known before and though she’ll have this (hopefully not, go Doug!) for the rest of our lives, she’ll also have me too.