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It will soon be November, and National Diabetes Month will be here once again. It's a time when I like to reflect upon my past with diabetes and try to look into the future.
We've come a long way together, my diabetes and I, and I feel a great sense of gratitude when I think about how 33 years with diabetes have shaped my life.
In retrospect, the way in which I approach my diabetes today was first influenced by my mother's scientific mind. She studied mathematics in the fifties and was an editor of Brain/Mind Bulletin. My disease became a scientific exploration for her, and her endeavors continue in my work as a journalist. We are going on two generations of diabetes inquiry now (maybe three - my son recently showed an interest in reporting on diabetes).
When I look at my fourteen-year-old son, who just began high school, I remember how diabetes first made its entrance into my life. I was seventeen years old and trying to be a "normal teenager," but my injections set me apart from my friends. It seemed like a lot of extra work at the time and, like most type 1's, I was praying to be cured.
Then college came along, and, in spite of my prayers, so did my diabetes. Staying up late to study for midterms and finals was par for the course, and my blood sugar numbers sometimes mirrored my erratic study schedule - a crazy patchwork of ups and downs. In the end, however, it all came together. My life experience with diabetes was a college degree in its own right.
All the hours I spent researching about diabetes and the new cutting edge therapies inevitably shaped my future life as an exploratory journalist. And my insatiable appetite for knowledge about both the off beat and the mainstream has continued to lead me in new directions privately and professionally. In both research and product development, diabetes is ever new and ever fascinating.
The latest turn in the long road that my diabetes and I have taken has led me to Diabetes Live, our new Diabetes Health iTV show. As I wrote last issue, it's one of the most exciting things I've ever done. But in launching the show, I've reverted to my college hours - pulling all-nighters to hammer out the details and to iron out the video and audio bugs that are an inevitable part of a new venture.
Fortunately, I have a new tool to help me cope with that erratic schedule: a continuous glucose monitor, or CGM. If you tuned into one of my first live shows at DiabetesHealth.com, you saw me start on the Dexcom CGM right on the show. It allows me to view my blood glucose tests as a pattern of trends rather than a small set of fixed points.
Because it tells me which way my sugars are trending, it is really helping me minimize my hypoglycemia. As for the hyperglycemia, I am able to view the upward trend and adjust appropriately. I look forward to reporting on my experiences with my CGM in future columns.
As a math major at Berkeley, numbers always held my interest. Whether it was the Pythagorean theory or my blood glucose readings, there was always a story being told. That's one thing I always try to keep in mind when I see numbers I don't like: it's not about being good or bad; there's just a story being told. It's all good feedback, allowing me to observe my environment and my actions and to better understand how they impact me holistically.
I expect the story of me and my diabetes to continue for a long time as together we go forward into the future. We're a team now, and it's all good. As we observe National Diabetes Month, let's try to keep that in mind. Our diabetes is a partner, not an enemy, and together we can go places that we would never have gone alone.
Sep 20, 2007