Kortnie at the 2011 JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes, Tempe Town Lake, Tempe, AZ

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

World Diabetes Day

Today is World Diabetes Day.  Every November 14th is WDD.   You can find out how it became a thing here.  November 14th is the birthday of Sir Fredrick Banting, who in 1921 created Insulin.  Before 1921 a diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes was a death sentence.  Thanks to Sir Fredrick Banting and his discovery of Insulin, many lives have been saved. 
You see in a "normal" person, their pancreas produces insulin, insulin breaks down carbohydrates and turns them into energy.  A Type 1 Diabetic's pancreas does not produce insulin, with out the injected insulin that Dr. Banting discovered, they would starve to death.
So, November 14th is set aside by the International Diabetes Federation and the United Nations to raise awareness about Diabetes.
The blue circle is the IDF's official symbol of Diabetes Awareness. 
Here is a timeline in pictures of how Kortnie looked before and after her diagnosis.  In the first picture she is on her way to her first day of Kindergarten, August 2009, she is plump, rosy, and healthy looking, in May we had been told she was obese.  The second picture is September 2009, 8 weeks before her diagnosis, you can tell she has started losing weight, her neck and face are skinny, I thought she was growing into herself or losing her baby weight, I was remembering being told she was obese just 4 months prior.  The middle picture is her 2 weeks before diagnosis, her neck and arms are so thin, her head looks too big for her body, her skin was pale and dry, this is when I started putting it together that something wasn't quite right, but I thought she might have a flu or mono, I didn't have a scale at home, when we took her to the ER and they weighed her, she had lost 14 pounds from when she had gotten weighed at school in the beginning of August.  The fourth picture is 3 weeks after her diagnosis, 3 weeks after starting on insulin, she still looks thin in the neck and chest, but her arms and face are have gained back some weight, her skin is better, but she still looks tired.  The last picture is Christmas, about 7 weeks after her diagnosis and starting on insulin, she has gained most of the weight she lost back, her energy was back, the light in her eyes was back, she was Kortnie-Licious again!  I will be forever grateful to Dr. Banting and his team.

Here are some moments in the history of diabetes.

  1. In 1500 BCE, ancient Egyptians recognized diabetes in people who urinated frequently and lost weight for no apparent reason. It was not labeled at that time but it existed.
  2. A Greek physician named Arateaus recognized that the urine produced from people with diabetes was sweet and termed it Diabetes Mellitus.
  3. In 1776, Matthew Dobson actually measured the urine for glucose and found it to be increased in certain people.
  4. In the early 1800s, diabetes was considered a clinical entity but the prevalence was not really documented. No specific treatment was used and usually within weeks to months the disease was fatal.
  5. The last 200 years have helped us understand many of the underlying causes of diabetes, ways to decrease risk factors of diabetes, and actual treatments. The outlook has definitely improved, with good results when therapies are used.
  6. Treatments have been effective, but still no real cure has been discovered.
  7. The disease of ancient times involved insulin deficiency (Type 1).
  8. In the early 1900s, Edward Sharpey-Schafer thought the lack of insulin was the cause of diabetes.
  9. Frederick Bating and Charles Best discovered insulin by reversing diabetes in dogs after inducing it. They did this by extracting pancreatic islet cells from healthy dogs; they later purified the insulin, and along with James Collip and John Macleod, were the first to treat a patient with diabetes using insulin.
  10. In 1936, Harold Himsworth proposed that more people had insulin resistance than insulin deficiency (Type 2).
  11. The discovery of biosynthetic human insulin replaced animal insulin, which eliminated reactions to insulin.
  12. Over the years we went from checking glucose in urine samples to using glucometers and checking blood sugar. In the beginning, blood glucose meters were only available in the hospital. Over time they became smaller, more sophisticated, and were made available for home use.
  13. New classes of oral diabetes medication have been discovered working on the pancreas, liver, muscle cells, gut hormones, and kidneys. Some that remain are cheap and reliable, and some are gone due to excessive side effects.
  14. Insulin injections went from glass syringes and long needles (which needed to be sterilized and reused), to disposable syringes with short, attached needles. Even easier are the disposable insulin pens which just require the click of a button.
  15. Pumps have made many lives much easier and eliminate the need for multiple daily shots. The added flexibility helps with an easier meal plan and exercise plan.
  16. Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) assists people in identifying blood sugar trends, and is crucial for those who suffer from hypoglycemic unawareness.
  17. Ketone testing has gone from testing urine with strips to blood ketone testing, which is more efficient and reliable for testing for Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA).
  18. New technology and medications are always being developed since diabetes is big business. The future looks bright. Hopefully we will gain progress in the fight against diabetes.
  19. On the darker side - 2012 shows that insulin deficiency (Type 1) accounts for 10% of diagnosed cases (autoimmune) which can be controlled with exogenous insulin (insulin injections). About 90% of the cases are considered insulin resistance (Type 2). This has become evident in the past 40 years and has created an epidemic world wide (causes may include inactivity, food portions and weight gain, along with genetics).
  20. The most recent statistics from the ADA are: 26 million people in the US have diabetes; 79 million have pre-diabetes with an increased risk for diabetes. One in three will have diabetes in 2050 if dramatic changes are not achieved. The yearly cost of diabetes to the nation is $174 billion.
  21. The need for a team approach with multiple follow up appointments has proven results, whether in person (one on one, class) or on the phone. Having a physician, CDE, dietitian, social worker, podiatrist, pharmacist and ophthalmologist is the best way to follow all the organ systems involved in diabetes


  1. Within weeks to months????? Yowza!

    1. Yep, up until 1921 when they figured out how to make a man-made insulin, it was a death sentence :(