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World Diabetes Day - Time To Wake Up

Updated on November 14, 2016

Thanks, Sir Frederick Banting

Here's the deal. Our attention has been significantly focused of late on the US presidential elections, and sometimes even on diseases that have been especially brought to light by celebrities. Most of these illnesses that have been discussed are predominantly cancer related, but we forget about the lifelong struggles at times that millions go through daily just to survive - a survival they fight for daily but one that's made easier due to a man who grew up in Alliston, Ontario.

For some reason, I was fascinated by Sir Frederick Banting growing up. To this day, I'm still not sure why I thought he was so appealing. He had a geekish charm, at least from what I could glean from his pictures, and had a work ethic like no other. He was also responsible for the discovery of insulin, the hormone that insures our blood sugars remain stable throughout any given day.

It's because of Sir Frederick Banting that I am fortunate to know a young man that I look up to daily. I've known him for about seven and a half years, and he is, for me, the embodiment of indomitable spirit.

He also lives with diabetes, regularly checks his blood sugar levels to ensure that he doesn't suddenly spike or crash, and is incredibly active. He is the most eager to be engaged in almost anything, frequently agreeing to take on a range of physical tasks just because it sounds like a good thing to do. He's almost always got a wide smile on his face, and has the heart of a lion.

He relies on his insulin pump to basically keep his sugar levels, and therefore his physical well being, stable, and he has never once allowed anything to hold him back. Certainly, I'm sure there are days where his parents see what he does and might have their hearts in their throats, but this is a young man who, in spite of concerns about his ability to heal from a range of injuries from breaks to physical illnesses, has shown everyone who knows him what daily bravery is.

Why all the concerns? I have come to discover that there are particular challenges that kids with diabetes deal with on a regular basis; there are conditions like ketoacidosis, which is brought about by high blood sugars, that could have significant impact on the kid's ability to grow, to the extent that growth might slow to the point of stopping.

I see this kid at least twice a week, sometimes more, and he never fails to floor me with just how positive he always is. There is so much that I've learned from this young man that I have a hard time articulating; in his scant 12 years of life, he has come to carry the concerns that some might expect from someone twice or three times his age, and while I'm sure he has his moments, he astonishes me daily with just how determined he is to do everything that so-called "normal" kids do. Sure, he has to be a little more careful in some respects, but he has never once let anything stop him.

So thank you, Sir Frederick Banting; without your life-giving discovery of insulin, this fine young man and I may never have crossed paths.

World Diabetes Day


We're Compromising Our Health

We live in a world of immediacy; there's no escaping that. If it comes in a box or a wrapper, we want to heat it up and eat it with little regard to how nutritional it actually is for us, because time is precious, and we seem to always be on the go.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, and instances of Type 2 diabetes being diagnosed rose 382 percent between 1988 and 2012. Research has also shown that if current trends continue, 1 in 3 Americans could have Type 2 diabetes by 2050, and that is a frightening prospect when one considers that there is a great deal about Type 2 diabetes that can be regulated through diet and exercise.

I understand that it's very convenient to hit a drive through restaurant for a meal as you're on the go to bring yourself or your children to their various activities, but what are we compromising in the process? I'm also as guilty as the next person about doing exactly that. My family is very busy, and I don't always want to take them out to eat. Finding healthful options, though, can be very challenging given many healthful options are not quick to prepare or found in a majority of fast food outlets for a reasonable price.

We're compromising our own health, and that is ultimately a terrible price. We want everything and we want it yesterday, but we're not looking after ourselves properly in order to enjoy it. As it stands, according to 2003 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, 85.2 percent of those diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes are obese. That's a hard percentage to wrap your head around; how could so many allow their health to become so compromised? Certainly, there are cases in which genetics plays a role in a person's body size, but how much do we blame that and how much do we blame personal choice?

It's different for those with Type 1 diabetes; there is no insulin, or limited insulin, available in order to appropriately regulate our blood sugars. Diet and exercise certainly play a role in regulating it, but there's a lot of complex issues that swirl around Type 1 diabetes, just as there are with Type 2. We need to take the time to try and understand what happens with the disease, just as we try to with any cancer diagnosis, and work towards a cure.

And that cure starts with us.

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I Chose To Live: a TEDTalk About Diabetes


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