Letters to the Editor

Jun 1, 1995

Reader Disappointed with DI, Says We've Lost Our "Enthusiasm"

The last two issues of your newspaper were rather disappointing to me. I've always eagerly awaited the next issues, but something is different now. Maybe I'm just tired of reading so much about things like non-invasive meters or beta cell transplants which are, in reality, 10 or 20 years "down the road."

The section on patents applied for doesn't seem to serve any useful purpose for most diabetics and just gets longer each month.

The letters to the editor are mostly praises to your publication now, instead of helpful tips from readers.

DIABETES HEALTH is still my favorite publication for diabetics, but some of your freshness and enthusiasm seems to be missing. Maybe I'm just too well informed now.

Sandy Morgan
Weatherford, Texas

In Response to Dr. Lodewick ...

Editor's Note: In our April Issue, Lisa Larkin, of Fort Bragg, Calif., wrote to our Q & A section and was responded to by Dr. Peter Lodewick. She asked whether her 3-year-old son's leg pains could be related to diabetic neuropathy. Dr Lodewick said it was unlikely. The exchange was also responded to by both a reader and another member of our editorial board. Here are their responses: )

This letter is in response to Lisa Larkin's question in the April 1995 issue (Q&A section) regarding possible neuropathy in her 6-year-old son.

We had a similar experience with my son, Mark, two years ago when he was eight. He had been diabetic about a 1 1/2 years at that time. His leg cramps also seemed to happen at night but were more severe than Lisa's son. He was unable to walk when it hit him. Fifteen minutes later, he was fine. This happened perhaps 15 or 20 times. The only thing our endocrinologist could come up with was a reference in a manual to high potassium being a potential cause. Blood tests showed slightly elevated potassium so we took him off bananas. No improvement.

We then took Mark to a neurologist who did a series of tests, including an MRI. They also had us rush him to the emergency room the next time it happened to see if a blood test would show anything at the time the problem occurred. That blood test showed nothing, nor was the neurologist able to find a possible cause.

Finally, I happened to notice that the pharmacy had given me Iletin rather than Lente insulin. Mark's last episode occurred the last day I gave him Iletin. Once we switched back to Lente and now to NPH (new endocrinologist) we have had no problem. The endocrinologist said Iletin shouldn't have been able to cause the problem but it obviously did.

I'd also like to let you know that I appreciate DIABETES HEALTH very much. It is easily the best of the five or six magazines I receive on diabetes. Keep up the good work!

Don Smedstad
Scottsdale, Ariz.

Another response:

Dear Doctor Lodewick:

As a fellow member of the advisory board of DIABETES HEALTH, I read, with interest, your Q&A column in the April 1995 issue. The first question, posted by Lisa Larkin, pertained to her 6-year-old son and questioned the possibility of diabetic neuropathy affecting his legs.

I agree totally that it is unlikely that the leg pains are associated with his diabetes. It is not uncommon, however, for children of this age to have leg pains which are commonly called "growing pains." I have found in my practice that these are often associated with faulty foot mechanics. Children who pronate or who are flatfooted often exhibit these pains. In many cases the use of functional foot orthoses totally eliminates these pains.

Neil M. Scheffler, DPM, FACFAS

Disagrees With Open Forum Column Regarding Pumps ...

I am writing in response to the "Open Forum" article by Atia Schreiber, which appeared in the April 1995 issue of your paper.

I read the column with great interest, since I am currently on insulin pump therapy. I was, in fact, quite disappointed with Schreiber's negative take on using the pump to control her diabetes.

I personally spent more than a year considering the idea of actually using a pump. I also researched through the book "Pumping Insulin" for six months the procedures and dynamics involved with insulin pump therapy. I proceeded to contact two pump companies and took my time digesting their materials. Next I interviewed users of each pump to aid me in the selection of my pump.

I chose the Disetronic pump, which for many reasons was the best choice for me. I would advise any potential pump user to take time and to do adequate research before just "doing it." This may alleviate some of the misconceptions Schreiber had formed in her mind.

This article indicated to me that Schreiber is dissatisfied largely due to the fact that she didn't take the time necessary to prepare for the changes involved in using an insulin pump properly.

I feel it is unfair of any individual to place the blame of imperfection on the pump, when proper usage requires a thorough understanding of what is required to achieve the freedom that the pump provides.

I have never been happier than I am now with my life as a diabetic. My renewed level of freedom is a dream come true. I am not saying that the startup on the pump was a snap for me, but now, after nearly four months, I am close to perfection - which has always been my goal.

I am grateful for my pump, my efforts in research and ongoing education in pump usage, my physician (Dr. Jonathan Cohen) and most especially for the support of my husband, Carlo.

If DIABETES HEALTH had not become known to me through the cable TV program "Living With Diabetes," I may never have taken the steps to the freedom I now experience daily.

Janice Thompson Di Gioia
Lakewood, N.J.

Editor's note: Here is Ms. Schreiber's response. I apologize for misspelling her last name in our April issue.)

Dear Janice:

Different diabetics have different experiences. My voice in "Pumps are Not Miracle Machines" is the voice that rarely gets published (thank you DIABETES HEALTH); the voice that speaks to our feelings around the enormously complex experience of trying to maintain healthy lives. There are far too many diabetics who think of themselves as failures, alone in their struggles, because they only get to hear the voice of judgment telling them that if they follow all the rules, and "do adequate research" they can have "near perfect" results.

I also researched the pump using the exact methods and contacts as you. It is a false conclusion on your part to judge that my struggle with this new experience was from lack of education. My article about my experience speaks to the hopes, disappointments, illusions and feelings that are a part of my chronic illness; never do I blame the pump itself.

The one thing I have learned from listening to other diabetics in my work as facilitator for the ADA support group, my pump group, and my participation in a private diabetic support group; is to not judge diabetics as negative or inadequate when they take the courage to admit that it takes a whole lot of hard work, experimentation and frustration to balance all the variables in our diabetic lives.

Judgment like yours has been in overabundance in my life for sure. On the contrary, I have developed the greatest respect for all diabetics, regardless of our success rate.

Atia Schreiber
San Francisco

Outraged by LifeScan's Conduct in Polymer Case

I am writing to add my name to the list of consumers who are outraged by the conduct of Johnson & Johnson's LifeScan in the current battle over "generic" test strips for people with diabetes.

For some time now, my son has been using the First Choice test strip from Polymer Technology and we have found it very reasonably priced and of the highest quality. I understand that Polymer and LifeScan are now in a court fight over a patent violation, but even before the legal issues are settled, Johnson & Johnson has engaged in some very questionable tactics - dirty tricks, I would call them.

My understanding is that Johnson & Johnson got an injunction to stop Polymer from making their strips and they were yanked from the shelves immediately. Then the Johnson & Johnson representatives went out to stores and distributors and purchased all the Polymer First Choice strips they could find.

This is a blatant act that deprives diabetics of a less expensive test strip. With no concern for the people they are supposed to serve, Johnson & Johnson is answering to its own greed and concern for cornering the home testing market. Do they think we can't see?

Despite the outcome of the legal struggle, the reputation of Johnson & Johnson is permanently damaged in my mind. Every time I go to the store and pay $15 more than I need to for a box of test strips, I grit my teeth and say: "Thanks a lot, Johnson & Johnson."

Debbie McCoy
Fall City, Wash.

Editor's note: Following the injunction, LifeScan did offer retailers $18 credit towards the purchase of a box of 50 of its One Touch test strips for every box of 50 Polymer test strips turned in to LifeScan. However, we have had no other reports of LifeScan representatives buying out Polymer products. LifeScan representative Dave Detmers has said that the credit program was not an attempt to buy out the Polymer strips, but rather was a courtesy to retailers who did not want to carry an infringing product or did not see a future in the Polymer product.

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