90 years ago today, Frederick Banting and John McLeod first tested the affects of injected insulin on an actual 14 year old, diabetic patient. They went on to win a Nobel Peace Prize for their work and today, I and millions of other people are alive because of the innovation and vision of these doctors and their team.
These days there are lots of folks looking to take their work one step further and find a way to get the pancreas to return to normal function–which in short means reanimating dead tissue–so it is no small task that today’s researchers are facing. Many diabetics are fixated on “curing” type 1 diabetes and hanging onto the results of each latest study–only to find a cure is not “just around the corner” despite what some would have us believe. I would LOVE to have a working pancreas again, but since the possibility of a TRUE cure is akin to raising the dead, I have chosen to focus my efforts in a slightly different direction.
I am frequently torn on the issue of a “cure”. I feel like I am the odd man out since I am one of the few who is not crying out for a pharmaceutical cure. No one lives forever. If I manage my diabetes vigilantly using diet, exercise and insulin, I can live as long, as healthy and more adventurously than most people without diabetes. Of course that’s a big IF. Discipline, hard work, and yes, suffering are the prices to pay–but aren’t we as a society a little soft–IE in need of some good old-fashioned elbow grease?
YES. We have an obesity epidemic that is out of control. Pollution, waste and detachment from nature are built into our lifestyles. These are the bigger, more immediate threats to a good quality of life than whether your insulin comes from a syringe, a pump or a pancreas.
The salient point of this rant is not to judge the efforts of others, but rather to ENCOURAGE people not to WAIT for a cure to live a better life. To dispel the myth that removing the challenge is the end all-be all. I would love nothing more than for the gifted scientists who are hard at work to have a breakthrough which would result in a cure that normal people could afford. In the meantime, hard work, a good diet and connection to the environment–well that is doable for anyone–RIGHT NOW. Those are the lynch-pins that keep us dangling above the quality of life that we want.
I am thankful for insulin. I am thankful for the folks who are working to eliminate the steps we have to take in getting that insulin into our systems-but I will never pin my quality of life on any industry above my own attitude and work ethic. By pushing the boundaries we are faced with, we honor the efforts of those who have made discoveries (thanks, Banting and McLeod!) and all of those who are still laboring to move the proverbial “high camp” a little further up the mountain!
Now let’s all go climbing!