St. Patrick’s Day Musings: A Pot of Insulin at the End of the Rainbow

Posted by haidee on Mon, 03/17/2014 - 14:11 in

Haidee-Merritt-FingerPricks-3

"So in tribute to St. Patrick's Day, my cartoon this month is what I would hope to find at the end of a rainbow: a pot of insulin."

Turns out the luck of the Irish has no influence on diabetes. Most of the information I could collect on the subject was slightly disturbing, mostly because it needed updating. The forecasted number of people to join the population of diabetics in Ireland seems to be growing exponentially, as it is most everywhere else. I’m being a little Debby Downer here, huh?* Perhaps a limerick will set a better tone:

The best kind of patient's compliant;
Another good type is reliant;
But when you begin
To mix insulin in
This patient must not be defiant

I found it interesting – you might too – that in a 2007 report, Irish pediatricians and endocrinologists estimated that there are between 3,000 and 4,000 children, adolescents and young adults (i.e. those aged 0 to 19 years) living with diabetes on the bonny isle. Seriously? I’m “friends” with more people with diabetes on Facebook than existed in Ireland less than a decade ago! Here’s the curious thing: virtually 100% of them had type 1 diabetes.**

Taking into account this data was published seven years ago, it looks to me as if the American trend hadn’t hit their shores yet. That is to say, the lines between type 1s and type 2s was still standard in Ireland: the childhood variety was characterized by the age of the patient and the need for insulin therapy (let’s say its unknown origin too), while the adult type was often hereditary and controlled by weight loss, diet and activity.

In America today, it’s really a crapshoot as to what demographic will develop which type of diabetes. I mean, three year olds getting type 2 diabetes and grown adults being diagnosed with type 1?! Good lord, this is a strange, new time! Those structured lines that we had contentedly leaned against have been dissolved. What we find instead has none of the comforts of black and white. My diabetic identity takes issue with this.

Like us, the Irish seem to identify the problem after the fact. Moving forward it’s damage control in the shape of prevention, identification and treatment. Like us, it’s an enormous expense to the health and social care systems.

So in tribute to St. Patrick’s Day, my cartoon this month is what I would hope to find at the end of a rainbow: a pot of insulin. Or, better, a never-ending pot of insulin. True, if there was a pot of gold I could go out and buy the stuff, but why not streamline the process and just give me what I need to survive?

*This blurb is a collection of random thoughts I had while reading through some diabetes research and may or may not reflect current statistics in Ireland. Please take it for what it is: a short entertaining soliloquy. Entertaining to myself, that is.

**Taken from the Institute of Public Health in Ireland (www.publichealth.ie).