I decided to do a little online searching this morning to help get some ideas for what to write about. I came across the usual assortment of articles detailing research on various avenues toward a cure for Type 1 diabetes, but nothing jumped out as particularly noteworthy. I decided to take a break and have some lunch. I checked my blood glucose, did my shot, had my sandwich, and came back to the computer.
I had a profound sense of déjà vu. It seems like I’ve been reading these same articles for the past 20 years, always hearing about the latest “promising leads,” never to be heard about again. When I was younger, and new to diabetes, I used to assume that within my lifetime a cure would be found. I’m not as sure of that anymore. I know there will be a cure one day, but I’ve stopped trying to predict when it will happen.
In spite of this rather dour outlook, there is a lot to be grateful for. And there is a lot that HAS changed since I was first diagnosed. Fast-acting insulin is probably number one on that list for me. The days of scheduled, always-the-same-number-of-exchanges meal plans and the inexact matching of Regular insulin to food absorption seem like a distant memory to me, even though it was only 15 years ago that fast-acting insulin came along and changed all of that. For those of you who use the pump, I’m sure the technology of today is night-and-day over what was available 10 years ago.
So change has happened, and will continue to happen. But the changes are always the slow changes. And I think there’s a part of all of us waiting for that “big change,” that announcement that someone has found a way to CURE this disease, not simply “manage it more easily.”
Tipping the scales
Tipping points are moments when momentum builds to a critical mass, and a dramatic and seemingly sudden change occurs. To the outside eye, the change seems to “come out of nowhere.” But that’s really never true. I remember learning about the civil rights movement when I was in high school — it was easy to think that one day Rosa Parks just decided, “I’m not going to sit in the back of the bus,” and the next day the civil rights movement was born. Of course, this is NOT the case. That moment was a pivotal moment, but the struggle for equality was well underway already. It was simply not at its tipping point yet.
Diabetes research is not yet at its tipping point. Good work is being done everyday, and promising leads abound, but the critical mass isn’t there yet. Someday it will be — someday, there will be news of a cure. I don’t know when that moment will come, but I know that it will.
In the meantime, we keep moving forward, taking out lives one day at a time, benefitting from the many small changes that make living with this disease easier than it ever was before.