Tag Archives: health issues

Morning Memories and Reflections

Carol A. Hand

This morning, I greeted the day with thoughts about my 17-year-old grandson. He is in the hospital after a sudden and serious onset of Type I Diabetes. Just a week ago, he drove his mother’s car for the first time to take the family out to dinner. Yesterday, he was lying in a hospital bed with IVs attached learning about this chronic condition and how to give himself insulin shots for the foreseeable future.

It’s not a disease I know much about, so today, I had to turn to the internet to learn a little more. I’m posting some of what I learned.

“With type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks part of its own pancreas. Scientists are not sure why. But the immune system mistakenly sees the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas as foreign, and destroys them. This attack is known as “autoimmune” disease. These cells – called “islets” (pronounced EYE-lets) – are the ones that sense glucose in the blood and, in response, produce the necessary amount of insulin to normalize blood sugars.

“Insulin serves as a “key” to open your cells, to allow the glucose to enter — and allow you to use the glucose for energy. Without insulin, there is no “key.” So, the sugar stays — and builds up– in the blood. The result: the body’s cells starve from the lack of glucose.

“And, if left untreated, the high level of “blood sugar” can damage eyes, kidneys, nerves, and the heart, and can also lead to coma and death.” (Diabetes Research Org.)

***

“Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, called beta cells. While its causes are not yet entirely understood, scientists believe that both genetic factors and environmental triggers are involved.

“Its onset has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. There is nothing you can do to prevent T1D, and—at present—nothing you can do to get rid of it…. Type 1 diabetes strikes both children and adults at any age. It comes on suddenly, causes dependence on injected or pumped insulin for life, and carries the constant threat of devastating complications.” (JDRF Org.)

***

Information about Prevalence (Diabetes Org.):

  • In 2012, 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3% of the population, had diabetes.
  • Approximately 1.25 million American children and adults have type 1 diabetes.
  • About 208,000 Americans under age 20 are estimated to have diagnosed diabetes, approximately 0.25% of that population.
  • In 2008—2009, the annual incidence of diagnosed diabetes in youth was estimated at 18,436 with type 1 diabetes, 5,089 with type 2 diabetes.

The rates of diagnosed diabetes by race/ethnic background are:

  • 7.6% of non-Hispanic whites
  • 9.0% of Asian Americans
  • 12.8% of Hispanics
  • 13.2% of non-Hispanic blacks
  • 15.9% of American Indians/Alaskan Natives

***

Some credible sources suggest that the high prevalence of diabetes among Native Americans is yet another legacy of colonialism. An important documentary about the Pima and Tohono O’odham Peoples of southern Arizona, “Bad Sugar,” describes how diabetes, once unknown, evolved into an epidemic that affects “half of all adults” in these communities. (Unnatural Causes Org.)

Here are links to episodes of the 29-minute video:

http://www.unnaturalcauses.org/video_clips.php?vid_filter=Episode%204%20-%20Bad%20Sugar

http://www.unnaturalcauses.org/video_clips_detail.php?res_id=71

***

How quickly children grow, and how quickly life can change. What I can do as his parents spend the day with him is learn more about how to manage this chronic condition in healthy ways as I keep him in my heart and thoughts. As I do so, I’m reminded of an earlier post.

Events like the shooting of a teenager in Ferguson, Missouri and the declaration of yet more “military action” (a euphemism for ongoing war in the Middle East to control oil and protect U.S. world hegemony) cause me to worry about the future my grandchildren will inherit. I am particularly concerned for my grandson’s safety and future. I witnessed his birth – with the neonatal crisis team on alert to make sure he survived. I made a silent promise to the tiny, blue six-pound infant I held gently in my arms soon after his birth: “I will always be there if you need me, my little one. You are my heart.” By age 11, he was taller than me, and now at 15, even more so.

 

288739_251502248221224_100000843525245_703533_1556408388_o

2010

I worry about the future of a handsome young man with a darker complexion in a country that fears difference. Can a gentle young man survive in such a world? I treasure the memories of him as a toddler gazing with wonder at flowers,

aadi and crocus

2001

as a little boy laughing as we blew bubbles,

Aadi & bubbles

2003

or gently and patiently holding his great-grandmother’s hand when he was seven.

Aadi 7

2006

I realize now, though, I can’t always be there to protect him. I can only hold him in my thoughts and my heart every day. I can also do the small things within my modest life to let him know I care, to build a kinder world in my tiny sphere of influence.

***

I hope those who read this post will send my grandson and all children loving healing thoughts today and every day.

As an Ojibwe elder once told me, “The children are our future. We all need to care about them.”

Aadi, Mom, me 2015

Fall 2015

10557033_10206868716693608_7062923847045612722_o

December 2015

***

Some Additional Information:

For an Infographic: A Snapshot of Diabetes in America, click here.

For current Research Highlights for Type 1 Diabetes, click here.

***

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.