I was up early (for me) and headed to the beach this morning. On a windy, slate gray day that screamed early February not late March Lighthouse Point should have been empty. The parking area around the carousel was decidedly not. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation was having a photo shoot. The cars were there to chauffeur JDRF’s stars.
It’s impossible to work with these children and not be affected. They are normal kids. They are cute and sweet and sometimes pains in the ass. What they share in common is diabetes–and it’s with them and their families 24/7.
When you know what to look for they’re easy to pick out. Down around the hip where a cop would wear his holster they’re wearing a pump. It might pass as a cellphone or pager except for the slender tubes leading from it to their body.
Their diabetes is being treated, but the treatment isn’t 100% effective. They will live shorter lives and suffer huge health problems. The most probable outcomes are scary and sobering. You wouldn’t wish those on an enemy.
We’ve heard a lot recently about pre-existing health conditions and insurance. Look at the kids with me in the photo. They are the perfect example.
Even with pumps and blood monitoring they’ll make mistakes. I’ve heard this story in slightly different form from dozens of parents. It’s a sleepover or a party and the phone rings. Their child has gone into diabetic shock. The host is petrified the child will die.
Even when everything has stabilized the family will walk on eggshells. The invitations will become a little less frequent. The leash will shorten.
If JDRF asks me to jump, I ask how high. It’s nearly impossible for me… for my family… to say no. And it’s totally because of the people I’ve met at things like this photo shoot. We have no family history with diabetes I know of.
On the way out from the carousel I stopped and chatted with a father of a girl with Type 1 diabetes. He is worried the economic power of drug companies will keep us from ever seeing a cure. It’s in the drug company’s interest to find ongoing treatments, not singular cures. I am hoping his worries are unfounded, but it’s still an awful thought.
Work is moving forward on an artificial pancreas. Briefly, a diabetic child will be fitted with a device to perform the functions a properly operating pancreas provides. It’s a complex solution combining medicine with digital electronics. It’s nearly perfected.
It’s a closed loop solution. That’s the amazing part. The diabetic need do nothing except live their life!
Today’s photo shoot is in support of the annual fund raising gala held by the Greater New Haven JDRF chapter. It’s coming up a few weeks from now in April.
Chris Kirby, our art director at the TV station, put together this public service announcement promoting the gala together on his own in his free time. It is voiced by another friend, Walter Mann. If you’d like to embed it on your site, please feel free.