Stories of Hope
This is my daughter Amelia. She is a spunky 11 year old with a great sense of humor. She is a writer, an artist, and she loves animals, particularly snakes. She would like to be a reptile specialist at a zoo when she grows up.
During Christmas holiday 4 years ago, Amelia caught a respiratory infection. She was very ill and it developed into something like the flu. Her temperature was over 100 for several days and though she began to slowly recover she was very tired.
By New Years Eve she was still not up to her usual level of high spirits and joie de vivre, but her appetite was very good. In fact, even though she was run down from her illness she was eating like an athlete in training. We thought that meant she was getting better.
She was eating, but her jeans were sagging and she was drinking large amounts of water. We attributed it to a growth spurt. Later, at the hospital, we learned that she was losing weight and drinking water because she had ketoacidosis, a situation that occurs when the body can no longer process glucose in the blood and begins to metabolize muscle tissue for energy to keep the body systems functioning. Our daughter had developed type 1 diabetes.
Her illness had triggered an auto immune response in her body which caused her immune system to attack the islet cells in her pancreas, the cells which produce insulin. By Valentines day, the day she was officially diagnosed, so many of her islet cells had been killed that her body could no longer keep her incoming sugars in check, her body was breaking itself down to survive.
For the next three years she got injections of insulin 4-5 times a day. To stay healthy, Amelia needs to test her blood glucose 6 times a day. Being a growing kid her blood sugars are hard to keep in line. She's had to give up a lot of treats to stay healthy.
Fitting in is a big deal too, so we try hard to make it possible for her to live as if diabetes isn't a big part of her day.
Advances in science have made pump technology available. Amelia now has a device which can be programmed to give her regular amounts of insulin, imitating a pancreas to some degree.
While we are grateful for this development, a machine does not replace a functioning, insulin producing organ. Even with the best technology, diabetics still face possible retinal damage, blindness, nerve damage, amputations, kidney failure and early death. These aren't things you want to imagine happening to your child.
Many nights at bedtime Amelia will ask when I think "they" will develop a cure, and I answer "they're working on it, honey." I want to be telling my child: WE are working on it. We can work on it right now by supporting stem cell research. Please, vote Yes on 71.