Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The reason I help JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation)

Someone asked me once why I'm so into helping JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). I asked them if they ever saw what people, especially young people, have to do every day just to survive. The sacrifices they have to endure, the multiple fingersticks, the illnesses, the reduced lifespan, the many, many, many doctor visits.

I tell them of the times I watched a child go through the motions of pulling out their meter, sticking their finger, then either receiving a shot of insulin or, in the case of a teenager, giving themself a bolus of insulin through an insulin pump.

At many a team captain luncheon for the Walk to Cure Diabetes, I see the kids running around having a ball. Before eating the meal provided, though, they go through the motions. In some cases, the dessert provided at the end is too tempting and the parents give in. Some of the kids became diabetic at around 7-8 years of age, so they remember how it was before the disease robbed them of their childhood.

Being a cardiac nurse in a hospital for the past 16 years, I don't see the kids in the doctor's office, or even the hospital. By the time I see them, the damage is already done. It's disturbing to see a person in their 20's or 30's with heart disease, with kidney disease, with neuropathy, with damage to their eyesight. It's disheartening to know they had no choice in the matter. Even if they took the greatest of care, some will have complications regardless.

It's because of these things that I started helping the JDRF people. I want to see a cure for Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes. I want to see that cure in my lifetime. No, I don't have diabetes. I'm a nurse who won't mind having one less young person to take care of just because a genetic disorder changed their lives forever.

Hopefully, forever won't be "forever" because of research and JDRF.