Tuesday, July 8, 2008

50 Years?

Today on facebook, Joslin shared a list of all of their recent research finds. These are obviously meant to be positive - possible hopes for a future cure.

This piece, however, struck an unintended nerve:
Study Finds Individuals with Long-Term Type 1 Diabetes Still Capable of Producing Insulin: Surprising Finding Gives Hope to All With Disease
June 8, 2008 – Researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston have discovered that a significant portion of people who have had type 1 diabetes for 50 or more years still have the capacity to produce insulin, a finding that has potential implications for improved treatment for all with the disease. To read more, click here: http://www.joslin.org/1083_4367.asp

It is definitely an interesting piece. After diagnosis, you spend a decent amount of time wondering when the "honeymoon" will end. When will the pancreas finally stop producing insulin all together? To be honest, in some ways I was eager for the honeymoon to end, because I thought that things would be more predictable. No more would TJ's pancreas somehow sputter to a start again, kick in a little insulin, and send him low. Or let us down when we were counting on it, if even for a small bit of insulin production.

But this study suggests that even after 50 years of living with diabetes, some people are still capable of producing insulin. The lead doctor goes on to say that this finding could lead to a possible change in treatment, if they find ways for people who have had diabetes for less time to produce insulin...BECAUSE, he says..."it's very rare for someone to live with Type-1 diabetes for 50 years."

Well, then.

I've posted before about my concerns for TJ's long-term health. But I can't say I've been viewing diabetes as a death sentence. TJ was diagnosed at 6. Does that mean that it will be unusual for him to live to 56?? Obviously so much could, and most likely will, happen in science and diabetes treatments over the next 50 years. There is no way to predict what Thomas' diabetes life will be like. I'm sure people who are in their 50's now and using an insulin pump never imagined they would be - especially when they were measuring their BG with urine strips and taking insulin only once a day.

But still, I generally defer all diabetes opinions to Joslin. So far they have proved to be nothing but amazing in their understanding of diabetes and their commitment to a cure. Hearing right from that particular source that it would be "very rare" for Thomas to live longer than 50 years. Too tough to take.

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