November is Diabetes Awareness month. Since November of 2000, I have been doing all I could to raise awareness during this time frame. I would send out letters. I would forward emails. I would post statistics and explain how diabetes almost killed my son.
Yesterday marked the 90 year anniversary since Sir Frederick Banting had that "Eureka!" moment that led him to discover insulin. For those of us who have seen what life can look like without insulin, we are forever indebted to this man who died before many of us were born. The path he forged in finding an external source of insulin has allowed my son to thrive today.
Insulin is not a cure. The challenges my son faces each day amaze and frustrate me. In an attempt to watch my waistline shrink instead of grow, I decided to log all of my meals on my Blackberry. Every morsel of food would be noted and the calories would be recorded. I lasted for a day but I make my son do this regularly. I help. I calculate. I support where I can but its not an easy task. No wonder he falls sometimes but sadly for him its not a matter of vanity, its a matter of life and death. Too much or too little insulin is hazardous to his health.
Since that fateful day in March of 2000, my son has been stabbed by a needle to receive life sustaining insulin over 7200 times. The number is actually smaller than it might be thanks to the insulin pump he has been using since he was five. The "pump" has a small catheter (infusion set) that stays in his skin and is only changed every 3 days (or when it falls out while having fun).
While insulin keeps my son alive, balancing the intake of food, insulin, activity and health requires the constant lancing of his fingers to test his blood. Not including routine blood work or testing his blood for ketones, he has tested his blood with his glucometer close to 40,000 times.
I see his hands each day (which are a mess because he only uses one spot to test no matter what) and I look at the small red marks on his body that show where the last infusion set was placed for his insulin pump. I can see the evidence of all of this jabbing. As I wrote out the numbers above showing how often his body has been stabbed, my mind immediately thought of a water balloon with multiple holes and water pouring out in small streams everywhere. Thankfully he is not squirting blood on a steady basis (although he has been able to get blood for testing on occasion just by pressing on a point) but I would love to see a cure for this disease before he starts!