Yep, I just quoted a Rihanna song. Get over it. You love her too!
This past weekend was amazing though. Seriously! I’m still cheers’ing to it and it’s Tuesday!
Saturday I attended the JDRF T1D Research Summit in Bethesda, MD with A and it was a really inspiring day filled with laughs, tears and everything in between including great people and conversation. All about diabetes.
It was great!
The biggest message I got out of the conference was that a lot of great work is being done in researching diabetes. There are tons of studies, a lot of theories and some seriously smart people working to find answers to big questions. But, while I know that there are a lot of people working hard to get funding for research and to get new technologies passed through the FDA, there are a lot of challenges and unanswered questions.
Thirty years ago, doctors were confident that there would be a cure for diabetes in five or ten years. Everyone I talk to tells me there will be a cure in the next ten years. One thing this conference made me confident of was that there won’t be a cure for diabetes until we find out what causes diabetes.
And to be honest, I’m pretty sure no one is even close to figuring out the answer to that question.
There are a lot of theories. Really good ones too that make a ton of sense. At least to me. But no one knows if these theories are actually fact. And until some smart person can pinpoint the exact cause of diabetes, us diabetics will have to rely on ever improving technology to control our blood sugar.
Which leads me to the next biggest take-away from the summit. Technology. There are so many people working toward making diabetes a disease that is easier to live with. The Artificial Pancreas project is in full swing with an end goal of creating a closed loop pump system. A closed loop pump system, in layman’s terms, is an insulin pump that does the work for you. Instead of you adjusting your insulin doses and trying to figure out how exercise, rice, sex and ice cream are going to affect your blood sugar, your pump does the work for you.
There are a lot of stages that need to be developed before having a closed loop pump system, but researchers are slowly working towards that end goal.
And as an FYI, pumps in the U.S. (this is all according to the speaker) are at the first stage where pumps suspend insulin when blood sugar is low. Good, but not great. In other developed countries, pumps suspend insulin before a person goes low. Their system detects a low and suspends insulin to prevent the low. Even better. Each stage of development is like this, with little advancements to make it easier to stay in the normal blood glucose range (which persons with diabetes spend 70% of their time out of).
Obviously, having a pump that suspends insulin before going low is a great device in helping to control hypoglycemia. So, why isn’t this technology available in the U.S. when it’s available in pretty much every other developed part of the world?
Hey, we can thank the FDA for that one. And maybe a few other big name profit seeking companies. Welcome to the American healthcare system!
This, of course, was another facet touched on by the JDRF themselves at the summit. Getting funding through the FDA for clinical studies and outpatient studies is harder than passing Calculus class (ok, maybe you could do it but I would have died if I hadn’t dropped that class!). Getting the FDA to approve new technologies to better the lives of Type 1 diabetics is about as easy as getting from DC to Baltimore fast on a Friday afternoon with three different accidents on the Beltway. It’s damn near impossible!
FDA… I could go on and on. But I’ll spare you.
But that leads me to one of my last take-aways from this conference (I actually have a ton but I could fill up pages and pages). The people. There were so many people, Type 1’s, Type 2’s and Type 3’s. It was amazing to see everyone come together in support to learn about diabetes and what can be done to further the research. I was experiencing a bit of diabetes blah before this summit, but after I felt inspired knowing what is happening in the community.
And one of my favorite parts of the day was meeting an elderly man, Type 2, who was at the conference giving away his extra testing supplies to those whose insurance didn’t cover their supplies. He was filled with stories that made me laugh and made me sad. He showed me what it looks like to not give up and to maintain a positive attitude.
As I mentioned earlier, A came with me to the summit. It was an early morning and a long day of diabetes stuff, so I wasn’t sure how into it he was going to be, but he was so interested. It was a really amazing feeling to see how supportive he is and how willing he is to learn about my disease. He’s always been supportive, don’t get me wrong, but to be so focused during a day devoted to diabetes talk. Not everyone could do that. In a way, we’ve dealt with this disease together. He’s been with me through the whole thing. It’s interesting to think about the progression of both our relationship and my diabetes. He is probably one of the best Type 3’s out there. He always listens to me when I’m having a hard time, asks me how I’m managing and is encouraging no matter what. Sometimes I only think about how I’m affected by diabetes, but I know he is too. It’s just in a different way. He tells me all the time how strong I am, but he’s just as strong.
The summit was an amazing and inspiring day and I am really looking forward to the next diabetes conference.
So, after the summit, A and I headed back to my house to get ready for my birthday celebrations, Round 2!
After cleaning, organizing, making food and doing last minute prep, we took a quick nap and got ready to party. Friends started arriving around 8:30 and the party was in full swing by 9. With lots of wine, food (our friend brought a delicious Brie with brown sugar and pecans on top!), dessert and music, I was having a blast. However, my blast ended around 1 when I was ready to lay in my bed and sleep for 12 hours. Which I did. Saturday night, when all of my friends (some of who I rarely see) came together, was the absolute best night.
23 was the best birthday I’ve ever had and I’m hoping my year is just as good!
And another ode to Rihanna’s song:
“Life’s too short to be sittin’ round miserable”