Jen M.

A Love Letter to Diabetes Innovators

In some ways it feels like I’ve blinked and watched James grow from a baby to a teenager before my eyes. I know new parents hate it when we “experienced” parents say that, because life with a baby certainly doesn’t feel fast. And to be honest, there is merit in that criticism, because many of those infant, childhood, and adolescent days sure felt long. But now, looking back, it seems to have gone by so incredibly quick, because the days before parenthood paled in comparison and it hardly seems possible that this adventure is nearing its end.

Because time with children moves so quickly, progress in the world seems almost impossibly fast as well. And to me, nothing illustrates that better than the rapid developments in diabetes technology. James already had the tremendous advantage of being born after the discovery of insulin. No advance in diabetes management short of a cure will ever equal that innovation! But even in James’ short lifetime we’ve seen advances that have drastically increased quality of life. I could not be more grateful to the women and men who work in this industry and create these incredible technologies.

James is young enough still that he has already been able to benefit from modern insulins and insulin pumps. We left the hospital upon diagnosis using modern basal/bolus technology, and he was put on a pump within the year. Perhaps the biggest improvement I’ve been able to witness is in continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) systems.

The whole concept is magical to me and would have been such a blessing at the outset of James’ diagnosis. He was so little when he was diagnosed and couldn’t always articulate to me how he was feeling. (To be honest, even now he’s not great at explaining it. It’s just not part of his personality.) It would have been amazing at that age to be able to glance at a device and know what his blood sugar was doing. I was grateful for glucometers and used them quite a bit — sometimes up to 14 times a day! Still, I remember when James spent his first day post-diagnosis at the park all day. I didn’t realize yet how much that would drop his blood sugar. Two hours after dinner I went up to check him (he was asleep), and his blood sugar was so low. I had no idea. He was sleeping peacefully up in his room. It would have been awfully nice to know that!

The advances in being able to remotely watch blood sugar were life-changing for us. All the many activities of childhood that used to be filled with anxiety — playdates, soccer practice, even school — suddenly became less stressful.

The newest innovations in diabetes tech combine pumping and continuous glucose monitoring. We’re brand new to this wonderful technology known as looping. There are a couple of options available, and we’ve recently started with one of them. It has been nothing short of a miracle for us. Overnight blood sugars are no longer stressful. Traditional sleepaway camps are in the realm of possibility. It seems in some ways that this comes just in the nick of time, as James nears the end of childhood with college on the horizon.

That such huge advances could be made in the seemingly short lifetime of my little son is mind-boggling to me. I’m so grateful to live in this time, with these tools available to our kids. I’m grateful for the scientists, technicians, and practitioners who have dedicated so much time and talent in creating these useful innovations. Every morning I wake up amazed at how far we’ve come and feel a bright sense of hope for what the future brings.

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.

Related topics:
Choose Your Own Diabetes Device
No Fundraising Required: Six Other Ways to Support Diabetes Research
What I Learned by Trying James’ CGM Device on Myself

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