Love/Hate Doctors, Researchers, and My Sister?

I have just been attending the Children With Diabetes Friends For Life 2015 Conference in Orlando, FL. I am overwhelmed by my emotions as this draws to a close. I have spent the better part of today attending the science and research track sessions. I am missing my sister as a result. (I realize this all sounds disjointed, but I promise to bring it around)!

Most of the time as people living with diabetes (PWD), we get into the love/hate relationship of our life with doctors and medications. We need the doctors to prescribe our vital and precious insulin and testing supplies. We hate that our lives revolve around these quarterly lab tests and then follow up appointments with doctors to get these medications. We hate having to sit through another reminder that our bodies have been attacked by their own immune system, and there is little we can do but strive to recreate our own “perfect” functioning organ system. We despise the insurance industry, and are for the most part frustrated by the lack of simplicity and ease with which we interact with the doctors continually. This is an unending process, that gets bogged down by prior authorizations, co-pays, coverage gaps, limited on call hours, and cancellation fees for a missed appointment. I mean, hey, they can make us wait for several or more hours to see them, but if we are running late, we have to pay up for it! Argh!!! I manage to make an ugly face as I think about all the hassles I deal with in the medical community on a continual basis. Then I think of my sister and stop. I am again grateful.

After venting all of this frustration with the medical professionals with whom all diabetics interact, I am reminded to stop and rethink things. Listening to the research sessions throughout this conference has been motivating. I am reminded of the efforts being put into the cure for diabetes. I am given new hope when I continually feel that there is such little progress being made to make the life of a diabetic better. I am reminded to stop my feelings of frustration and anger at the Pharmaceutical and device companies for the exorbitant costs of our life savings medications. I try to push aside my economic thoughts that run rampant at the supply and demand issues of our life with diabetes. I am reminded that there are truly countless souls working tirelessly behind the scenes each day to help save my life and protect our children from future devastation.

The very first thing that I want to do is go find my sister and hug her! Why? How does this even fit in the story? My sister is a research scientist. She is a very motivated person. I am not sure that most of the world understands what she or anyone else in her lab does on a daily basis, unless you happen to work in a science lab as well. I am grateful for her quirky spirit and amazing brain. I am thankful that she cared more about her grades and how and why things worked than the average person or kid did growing up. I am grateful for others like her that are thrilled about cell research, understand the various networks of body systems that most of us take for granted, and are truly the power behind the advances in health.

Although my sister does not work with diabetes specifically, she strives to find cures for people. I don’t quite understand what a molecule looks like or how that weird DNA chain truly functions. I am more helpful to the world by helping and talking to people. I help other people with diabetes get support and through trying times in their lives. I help them understand and relate to how this disease works in the real world. I am good at this. I am not so great at using microscopes and petri dishes! My sister is great at those tasks fortunately.

I have learned about new trends in autoimmunity, artificial pancreas models, new groups and researchers that need funding to go into their labs and think in ways that my brain doesn’t! I am so grateful for the unsung heroes of our medical world. As type 1 diabetics we are more than thrilled to praise Drs. Banting and Best. We rightly should as they helped discover the insulin of today! With each finger stick that we perform and each blood test that the lab draws, we should remember that there are dedicated people doing important things in much the same way.

We should also thank the immense tidal wave of research scientists that work behind the scenes in hospitals, research facilities, and organizations that house amazing minds and dedicated hearts. After hearing the new efforts on the diabetes research front, my heart is thankful again and again. This conference has reminded me that I am not alone. Diabetes is not a lost cause. There are people like my sister that continually, repeatedly, and patiently, try, try, and try again for our benefit! These hard workers are not looking for recognition, but they deserve our praise and should help remind us to have patience with those doctors and lab techs that we spend so much time with in our lives as diabetics. There is an army working to help each of us living with diabetes and I am grateful!! Bring on the future!!

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