Morning Memories and Reflections

Carol A. Hand

This morning, I greeted the day with thoughts about my 17-year-old grandson. He is in the hospital after a sudden and serious onset of Type I Diabetes. Just a week ago, he drove his mother’s car for the first time to take the family out to dinner. Yesterday, he was lying in a hospital bed with IVs attached learning about this chronic condition and how to give himself insulin shots for the foreseeable future.

It’s not a disease I know much about, so today, I had to turn to the internet to learn a little more. I’m posting some of what I learned.

“With type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks part of its own pancreas. Scientists are not sure why. But the immune system mistakenly sees the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas as foreign, and destroys them. This attack is known as “autoimmune” disease. These cells – called “islets” (pronounced EYE-lets) – are the ones that sense glucose in the blood and, in response, produce the necessary amount of insulin to normalize blood sugars.

“Insulin serves as a “key” to open your cells, to allow the glucose to enter — and allow you to use the glucose for energy. Without insulin, there is no “key.” So, the sugar stays — and builds up– in the blood. The result: the body’s cells starve from the lack of glucose.

“And, if left untreated, the high level of “blood sugar” can damage eyes, kidneys, nerves, and the heart, and can also lead to coma and death.” (Diabetes Research Org.)

***

“Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, called beta cells. While its causes are not yet entirely understood, scientists believe that both genetic factors and environmental triggers are involved.

“Its onset has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. There is nothing you can do to prevent T1D, and—at present—nothing you can do to get rid of it…. Type 1 diabetes strikes both children and adults at any age. It comes on suddenly, causes dependence on injected or pumped insulin for life, and carries the constant threat of devastating complications.” (JDRF Org.)

***

Information about Prevalence (Diabetes Org.):

  • In 2012, 29.1 million Americans, or 9.3% of the population, had diabetes.
  • Approximately 1.25 million American children and adults have type 1 diabetes.
  • About 208,000 Americans under age 20 are estimated to have diagnosed diabetes, approximately 0.25% of that population.
  • In 2008—2009, the annual incidence of diagnosed diabetes in youth was estimated at 18,436 with type 1 diabetes, 5,089 with type 2 diabetes.

The rates of diagnosed diabetes by race/ethnic background are:

  • 7.6% of non-Hispanic whites
  • 9.0% of Asian Americans
  • 12.8% of Hispanics
  • 13.2% of non-Hispanic blacks
  • 15.9% of American Indians/Alaskan Natives

***

Some credible sources suggest that the high prevalence of diabetes among Native Americans is yet another legacy of colonialism. An important documentary about the Pima and Tohono O’odham Peoples of southern Arizona, “Bad Sugar,” describes how diabetes, once unknown, evolved into an epidemic that affects “half of all adults” in these communities. (Unnatural Causes Org.)

Here are links to episodes of the 29-minute video:

http://www.unnaturalcauses.org/video_clips.php?vid_filter=Episode%204%20-%20Bad%20Sugar

http://www.unnaturalcauses.org/video_clips_detail.php?res_id=71

***

How quickly children grow, and how quickly life can change. What I can do as his parents spend the day with him is learn more about how to manage this chronic condition in healthy ways as I keep him in my heart and thoughts. As I do so, I’m reminded of an earlier post.

Events like the shooting of a teenager in Ferguson, Missouri and the declaration of yet more “military action” (a euphemism for ongoing war in the Middle East to control oil and protect U.S. world hegemony) cause me to worry about the future my grandchildren will inherit. I am particularly concerned for my grandson’s safety and future. I witnessed his birth – with the neonatal crisis team on alert to make sure he survived. I made a silent promise to the tiny, blue six-pound infant I held gently in my arms soon after his birth: “I will always be there if you need me, my little one. You are my heart.” By age 11, he was taller than me, and now at 15, even more so.

 

288739_251502248221224_100000843525245_703533_1556408388_o

2010

I worry about the future of a handsome young man with a darker complexion in a country that fears difference. Can a gentle young man survive in such a world? I treasure the memories of him as a toddler gazing with wonder at flowers,

aadi and crocus

2001

as a little boy laughing as we blew bubbles,

Aadi & bubbles

2003

or gently and patiently holding his great-grandmother’s hand when he was seven.

Aadi 7

2006

I realize now, though, I can’t always be there to protect him. I can only hold him in my thoughts and my heart every day. I can also do the small things within my modest life to let him know I care, to build a kinder world in my tiny sphere of influence.

***

I hope those who read this post will send my grandson and all children loving healing thoughts today and every day.

As an Ojibwe elder once told me, “The children are our future. We all need to care about them.”

Aadi, Mom, me 2015

Fall 2015

10557033_10206868716693608_7062923847045612722_o

December 2015

***

Some Additional Information:

For an Infographic: A Snapshot of Diabetes in America, click here.

For current Research Highlights for Type 1 Diabetes, click here.

***

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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About Carol A. Hand

What matters are not the titles I’ve held or university degrees I earned or the size of a house or bank account. It’s really what I’ve learned from ordinary people like me whom I’ve met along the way. They taught me to live with gratitude and give thanks for each new day.
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41 Responses to Morning Memories and Reflections

  1. sachemspeaks says:

    You and your family have my prayers and my heart my good friend! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Morning Memories and Reflections — Voices from the Margins | sachemspeaks

  3. desilef says:

    Thinking of you and wishing good health for your grandson. One of my closest friends has Type I since early childhood. Now 65 and with insulin leads a more active life than I do. The issues that have come up for her: 1) I hope your grandson has good health insurance for prescriptions as the insulin manufacturers over the last couple of years have been engaging in price-gouging and unconscionable increases. 2) She was hospitalized last year in serious condition because her doctor and the pharmacist didn’t notice that a drug prescribed to deal with an unrelated and sudden condition interacted in a bad way with insulin. Always check anything else prescribed! and 3) in traveling, she’s sometimes lost track of when to take her shot when crossing through different time zones. Of course it’s better not to have a chronic condition, but HE WILL BE OK!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. cindy knoke says:

    Healing thoughts and prayers are flying his way. I did group for years with adolescents with brittle diabetes. He can live a very normal life. My thoughts are with him, with you and with the family. I know it is very scary, but tell him it is also very treatable. Hugs to you Carol~

    Liked by 2 people

  5. underswansea says:

    Sending you and your grandchild good thoughts. Take care Carol. Bob

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lara/Trace says:

    I will hold good thoughts for him Carol and many prayers. ❤ to you all.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. There’s no question in my mind that the high diabetes rate in Native Americans stems directly from colonialism. By destroying and/or removing them from their habitat, we denied them access to an indigenous diet and plants/animals they co-evolved with over 1000s of years.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Carol, your posts always move me and make me think. as a person of mixed race – there are so many thoughts and emotions that this post triggers. My best wishes for your grandson, dear Carol. And thanks for being you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Bernadette says:

    Sending loving an healing thoughts to that handsome young man.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. sojourner says:

    I am so sorry, Carol!

    You, your grandson and family will join the list of people who are suffering at the moment, and there are many, including an old friend; as with them, your grandson will be with me from here forward.

    I pray he have a long, wonderful life, and that this hindrance will only strengthen him as a man, a unique individual, a loving human being.

    He has a great power on his side, the love of you and the family you have brought forth!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Dave. I appreciate your kindness a great deal. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • sojourner says:

        Please, as you can, Carol, keep us updated on how your grandson is doing!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I will, Dave. He’s in my thoughts this morning, and my heart aches for the pain and confusion I know he’s feeling. But yesterday, I understand he was peaceful after a Reiki practitioner spent time with him. (It was his request to see her.)

          Liked by 2 people

        • sojourner says:

          Great!

          As with some of the other people I mentioned, who are ill at the moment, I hope your grandson is looking to the natural for healing and sustaining his health.

          Actually, this could be, in the long term, a good thing, since he will have to be aware of what he consumes.

          But I know it’s hard to sense something like that right now.

          Illness seems to be the order of the day. There are so many people I care about who are ill right now.

          It’s a season of concern, for certain!

          You take care of your self, too, Carol!

          Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, these are difficult times. There are so many forces that threaten health – the food, air, and water we depend on for life and emotional balance are all compromised. Still, we need to face each moment and do what we can 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  11. sue says:

    sending healing thoughts . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  12. wolfegeo says:

    My heart goes out to you and your grandson. Wishing your family only the best life has to offer.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hildegard says:

    Dear Carol, I add my prayers to the others’ for your family also. In this difficult time, it is great that you can do the research and help your family in this way. The fact that you’re writing about it shows your love even beyond, to others who may need to know. It is good to hear from your friends who have experience with this, to know that there are good outcomes available these days. Blessings to you. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh, Carol, I have little to add to all the perfect comments above. Hy heart reaches out to you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Norman Pilon says:

    I am at a loss for words, Carol, for I can only imagine . . .

    And yes, information is your best recourse for coping and dealing with this . . .

    Not to minimize the implications of the diagnosis, but I’ve known a few people who had diabetes. I don’t know for certain what the type was, but they were injecting and regularly checking blood sugar levels. Mostly, they seemed to be on top of their condition, managing it well. One friend, Eleana, would occasionally suffer minor complications, but her bad days were relatively infrequent. My impression was that they lived normal lives, having adapted well to their condition. And although I have since lost touch with Eleana and Mike, who were both about my age, there is Aline, who is near her eighties now and who, if I’m not mistaken, has been injecting since the 60s . . . She still does a lot of walking and is surprisingly spry for an ‘old lady.’ If she were still living several houses away, she would still be dropping by to pick up our dogs to accompany her on her twice daily strolls . . .

    But of course I’m trying to give you grounds for hope and there really are some solid grounds for guarded optimism going forward. On the other hand, I know this can’t be easy on anyone involved. Life has changed forever. We suffer for and along with our children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your kindness, Norman. Life has changed forever in some ways, but deep feelings sometimes awaken deeper awareness of the blessings in our lives still. It forces us to uncover strengths we may not have recognized before. I trust my grandson will learn this. (He took the initiative to request a visit from a Reiki practitioner yesterday, not something 17-year-old athletes do often when confronted by life-shattering events. So today, despite deep pain and tears for him, I have hope.)

      Liked by 1 person

  16. dolphin says:

    I suffer from autoimmune diseases, as well, Carol. I don’t believe for a second that your grandson’s body is incapable of the miracle of healing. Diet is very important. Food is medicine! Try eliminating gluten, corn, soy, and dairy from the diet. Eliminate all chemicals from the home, the body, and surroundings. This includes fragrances…those nice-smelling carcinogens. Sending prayers for him and the family. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. With you and your grandson in prayer, Carol ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Ken Dowell says:

    Wishing your grandson the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. mytiturk says:

    Hope is so important. There are so many threats to its preservation. Many of these are also shocking. But then there are good things to focus on. Keep on fighting, Carol, for all the people and things that are so important to you, and to whom you are key.

    Liked by 1 person

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