On Saturday morning, I woke early to catch a bus to the Harbour Towers Hotel and Suites (Ballroom B) where I attended a symposium on type 1 diabetes hosted by the Canadian Diabetes Association.
In addition to a resource fair (brimming with D-related information and free swag), the event featured presentations by two local endocrinologists and by John Chick – a type 1 diabetic, a father, a defensive end for the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders (and the inspiration for the conference’s name, “Tackling Type 1 Diabetes”).
The day began with Dr. David Miller’s presentation on the genetics of diabetes which shed some light on the complexity of the term “diabetes.” Beyond the three common categories of type 1, type 2 and gestational, Dr. Miller explained the variety of diabetes cases he encounters in his practice. Amongst an assortment of other “types” of diabetes, the following were completely new to me:
• MODY (Mature Onset Diabetes in the Young or, to use Dr. Miller’s terminology, “mild type 2 in skinny adults”)
• CFRD (Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes) which exhibits phenotypic features of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes
• MIDD (Maternally Inherited Diabetes and Deafness) caused by an inherited mitochondrial gene mutation
Dr. Andrei Moldoveanu spoke on the treatment of complications of diabetes and also discussed the potential benefits of Continuous Glucose Monitoring Systems…lower A1c, better understanding of how food/meds/exercise affect blood glucose, A1c values more frequently under 7% (without increased hyopglycemia)…Sounds pretty nice, doesn’t it? Even though CGMS have been around for years (I had my first experience with one back in 2003) and are becoming more prevalent, at the present time most patients are hard-pressed to find insurance coverage for a CGMS.
Sidenote: After Dr. Moldoveanu’s presentation, I did a quick search and discovered that, since September 2008, JDRF International has been advocating coverage for Continuous Glucose Monitoring.
And then came keynote speaker John Chick…and speaking of CGMS, only in a room full of people with diabetes would an electronic beeping followed by John Chick’s explanation of, “that’s my sugar rising,” be met with such understanding laughter…John Chick told the audience that his diagnosis (at the age of 14) was, “the best worst news of his life.” After he began to feel better and started gaining weight, his diagnosis with diabetes actually served to strengthen his dreams of becoming a professional athlete. While his childhood dreams included becoming a major league baseball player and an astronaut, he ended up living out his dream of becoming a professional football player. In 2007, he began his professional career with the Saskatchewan Roughriders (and, in that first year, received a Grey Cup ring to boot!). Chick readily confesses that he hasn’t always managed his diabetes as well as he could or should and credits his improved control to his insulin pump. Compared to his blood sugar control on multiple daily injections, the pump has allowed him to maintain a more consistent body weight (important for a professional football player!). Overall, Chick’s presentation focussed on the importance of believing in yourself and not letting diabetes limit your dreams. An important and inspiring message for any person touched by diabetes. Thanks, John!
(Needless to say, Saturday’s favourite number was definitely 97.)