I think I’m going through some sort of withdrawal after attending the American Diabetes Association’s Scientific Sessions this past week in Philadelphia. It was five whirlwind days of product demonstrations, scientific talks, happy hours, meeting other members of the DOC, and the pleasant (if weird) experience of hearing beeps from other people’s insulin pumps. I got to hang out with some of the other awesome diabetes writers and bloggers, like the folks from TuDiabetes, SixUntilMe , Diabetes Daily, Diabetes Mine, and Close Concerns (among others that I am no doubt forgetting but will remember later) and meet with influential and enthusiastic people from companies like Medtronic, J&J, Dexcom, Novo Nordisk, Sanofi-Aventis, Abbott, and Tandem Diabetes Care, to name a few. (If you ever find yourself getting cynical about pharma, I suggest you try to meet some of the people at these companies in person. I was truly impressed by their passion for and commitment to improving the lives of people with diabetes. If you feel the need to hang on to cynicism, I could direct you toward some health insurance companies instead. But that’s another blog post. . . . )
Anyway. Now the conference is over and I (and my diabetes) are back in my home office, trying to figure out how to bolus for cottage cheese and berries eaten 45 minutes before a session at the gym. I’m feeling a bit of a let down. The ADA was intense, and I’ll admit that I’m glad that it’s over (I was exhausted) but there’s something about being surrounded and immersed by the world of diabetes that alleviates some of the burden of your own disease. Like, for example, I interviewed the lovely Dr. Henry Anhault, a pediatric endocrinologist who just finished an amazing artificial pancreas trial with J&J (which I will post about later). Sitting there listening to him talk about the progress that has been made, I felt so optimistic and inspired that I was able to forget, for several minutes at least, that I myself had diabetes, that when we finished talking and I went to eat lunch, I was going to have to calculate my open-loop bolus and cross my fingers that I’d gotten it right. It was a really nice feeling.
But now I’m back in my normal life, wondering why I spent all last night battling a high when all I had for dinner was a salad and a chicken breast. I’m wondering why yesterday morning I somehow got everything right (I took 1.5 units of insulin for a 6-gram-carb cottage cheese, then went to an intense 45-minute spin class from 8:30 till 9:15, and started and ended right at 110) — and then ate a freaking cracker and spent the rest of the entire day hovering around 180. I’m wondering why my body decided to develop a lump under my pump site during the last day of ADA, sending me to 260 with no explanation till I switched infusion sets. I’m wondering what’s going to happen in an hour, when my Symlin wears off, my berries and cottage cheese kick in, and I’m exercising at the gym. What’s that going to look like? I don’t know.
What I do know, though, is that I’m more aware than ever that there are people out there who are working on this, who are devoting their lives and careers to figuring out a way to alleviate the burden of diabetes. It may not be an immediate cure or even a fully closed loop. But step by step, bit by bit, I have confidence we’re going to get there: to a world where life with diabetes is a little easier to handle. And I’m grateful.