January 31, 2015

Young People with Type 1 Diabetes

This video in the NY Times is somewhat frightening and I have viewed it several times to get that out of my mind, but I can't. The young girl, Grace, at 15 has type 1 diabetes and is having wild swings in her blood glucose levels. As with most parents, Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlain are all over her and her testing schedule. They set alarms to check her blood glucose at midnight, three AM, and six AM. She tests the rest of the day.

They may have good reason for concern as apparently she is on a high carbohydrate/low-fat food plan and also seems hypoglycemia unaware. She does have a diabetes service dog and this has eased the concern some. The dog does go with her to school and anyplace she goes away from her parents.

David Mendosa says she and her family have apparently never heard of Dr. Richard K. Bernstein and the law of small numbers. For the brief time when her blood glucose numbers flashed across the screen, I would have to agree with David and say she and her family need to read Dr. Bernstein's book, “Diabetes Solutions.”

Hopefully, the link above will allow you to see the video. It is not the best video and jumps from point to point without any narrative or controls to allow you to pause the video, which I could get to work.

She has had three or four friends or acquaintances that have died from type 1 diabetes. This does concern the entire family and has left a lasting impression on the daughter.

Below the video is a brief write-up about the Chamberlain family in Fort Worth, Texas. Grace was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2006. Grace’s experience with the disease has been particularly volatile. Her blood glucose levels must be checked and managed constantly; if they get too low, she could die within minutes. Grace’s parents have devoted their lives to keeping their daughter healthy. Their kitchen has been transformed into an arsenal of diabetes-regulating equipment and food. Because she often can’t feel the fluctuations in her blood sugar levels, they got her a diabetes service dog, Jackie, who can sense when Grace’s glucose levels may be getting too low, and urge her to go check and correct them.

Grace’s main hope is for an artificial pancreas, which would mimic the biological function of the organ by regulating insulin and other hormone delivery and helping maintain healthy blood glucose levels. Research for this technology is ongoing in the United States, but a 4-year-old in Australia has received the world’s first artificial pancreas last week; Grace has a fund-raising campaign of her own. Once the artificial pancreas is perfected and approved for use by the FDA, Jackie the dog can focus on being a dog, and Patricia and her husband can sleep. More important, Grace will have the best shot possible at the pursuit of a stable, independent, and almost normal life.

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