November 14th is World Diabetes Day. Those who live with diabetes often remark that every day is diabetes day! That is true but November 14th is special.
The 14th is the day that Frederick Banting was born. For those who don’t know, Banting was a Canadian born medical scientist. He received the Nobel prize for his work isolating insulin for therapeutic use with his colleague Dr. Charles Best. He is the reason that my son is alive and thriving today.
Before 1922, a person with Type 1 diabetes was not expected to live long. The only way for them to survive was on very strict diets and those diets often left them malnourished. Injected insulin came along and changed that.
The incredible before and after image of Leonard Thompson shows us just how dramatic of an impact insulin had on the lives of those living with diabetes.
While my own son wasn’t as emaciated as poor young Leonard, he was gaunt and skeletal before he was diagnosed. He had been a thin child. He had been sick but seeing him teetering in the bathroom after he began to receive insulin sent me into shock. His skin was hanging off of his tiny body. It had happened so quickly.
Thankfully on November 14, 1891 a man was born who would find this miracle elixir. He would discover a way for my child, and millions like him, to receive the insulin that they were lacking in their own bodies. Dr. Banting gave them their lives back. He gave parents back their children.
Those of us who use insulin, no that it is not a magic pill. We understand that it must be respected. People living with diabetes quickly learn how the smallest doses of insulin can have life-threatening consequences. Despite the risk, the reward is incredible. We have our children, our partners, and our friends. They thrive, contribute and enrich our lives.
On this day we say “Happy Birthday Dr. Banting!! Thank you so very, very much for giving us this incredible gift of life.”
It has been hot here for most of July which is greatly appreciated when you realize that some areas in our province hadrecord snowon the Victoria Day long weekend in May. Because of the heat, yesterday I finally broke out my insulated eco-bag. It’s not often that I have to use it. I bought it to bring home fish and berries that last time I was home in Western Canada. Since then it has basically sat in my closet looking neat and clean.
Yesterday was different however. I had to run out and buy milk and then was invited out to dinner. There was no time to drop off the milk in between nor could I buy it after. Well I suppose that I could have but I decided to use my eco bag instead!
I pulled it down off of the top shelf of my closet and was shocked to find the skidoo boot liner that had been missing since October! I had torn apart the house looking for it to no avail and there it was quietly tucked away in my cooler bag! I took out the liner to return it to its rightful owner and came across something that made my heart sink. There, in the bottom of the bag, were not one butTWOpristine vials of insulin. They were still in their boxes. They had a lovely little pharmacy label on them stating that they were two of three.
I wanted to cry. They had been in the bag for at least nine months! Insulin is only good at room temperature for 30 days. I felt horrible. How many people struggle to pay for a vial of insulin and I had wastedtwoof three!? How many dollars was I going to have to throw away? How did that happen?
I know that I am not the first person to lose vials of insulin. I know that I am not the first person who has had to throw unused insulin out–when my son was first diagnosed, we would throw away half a vial of insulin every month because his needs were so small. It still hurts to think of that life-saving elixir being tossed however.
Please forgive me Mr. Banting! I will try to be much more careful with your gift from now on.