It was more than two decades ago, and Penny Hildreth was already feeling overwhelmed by life when she learned that she had type 1 diabetes. She was pregnant with her second child and worried about the baby’s safety after a car accident that had left Hildreth with a broken collarbone, a broken rib, and a punctured spleen. It was the spleen injury that ultimately led to her diagnosis of diabetes, but she was more concerned about the baby, a little girl who was born healthy despite the automobile accident. “I always say that she’s my miracle,” says the 46-year-old Portland resident.
Scientists generally think that decreased insulin production by the pancreas, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes, is due to the death of the organ's beta cells. However, scientists at Columbia University Medical Center report that the beta cells do not die, but instead revert to a more basic cell type.
Swedish researchers report that a drop in A1C of less than one percentage point can lower the risk of death from cardiovascular disease among people with diabetes by nearly half. Specifically, they found that patients who reduced their A1C from 7.8% to 7.0% decreased their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 45 percent.
I've had type 1 diabetes for nearly 14 years. I have fallen off the wagon a few times, battled diabulimia, survived numerous insulin shock comas and ketoacidosis episodes, and struggled with acceptance: I have my scars. Despite these mistakes, I've picked myself up countless times and have prevailed. I've persevered with a disease that doesn't take vacations for even a minute, and I've come out on top. I'm alive and healthy, with a full life and a child of my own.
Last year, I gave birth to my daughter and shared my pregnancy and birthing experiences with you. The pregnancy was a very difficult but extremely rewarding experience. A few months after our daughter was born, my husband and I discussed whether we'd have another child. On one hand, I went through several insulin shock comas, severe insulin resistance, and pre-eclampsia, ending in an emergency cesarean section. Because my first pregnancy was so tough, we weren't sure if we wanted to risk another one. On the other hand, if we did have two children, we wanted them to be very close in age so that they could bond well. We figured that if the two children were around fifteen months apart, then my daughter would be too young to feel any tension about having another baby in the house. We hoped they'd be close enough in age that they would always have one another as a companion.
My oldest nephew, James, has a double whammy to deal with. His aunt, yours truly, has type 1 diabetes, and so does his father. I was in the room when my sister had an ultrasound during her pregnancy with James, and I clearly remember the doctor asking her if anyone in her family had diabetes. We shared a look as she informed the doctor of my diabetes and her husband's diabetes. I know we also shared a silent prayer as the reality hit us that diabetes might be passed on to her children.
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