Over the past years, I have seen tremendous advancements in the treatment and management of type one diabetes. However, I have also seen countless ideas and inventions that never make it out of the lab or to the general population. Of course, it takes years and an amazing amount of funding for an idea to make it to the lab, and even more work for it to reach the general public. That's why when an advancement looks promising; I can't help but get excited!
Encapsulation is beta cell therapy implanted into a patient that would "cure" the patient of type one diabetes for up to two years. This treatment is beginning human clinical trials within the next few months, and has already shown promising results. A packet inserted into the patient would hold new beta cells that would read the amount of glucose in the body and automatically and immediately release the exact amount of insulin as necessary. These beta cells would be covered by a protective yet permeable barrier (process shown in above diagram), therefore they would not be under autoimmune attack, which was the major problem in original islet cell transplants. In other words, no toxic immunosuppresive drugs would need to be taken by the patient. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) has led this research and partnered with other research organizations to perfect and market the idea.
With encapsulation, a patient can almost feel "cured" of diabetes for up to 24 months. They would not have to test their blood sugar, deliver insulin, wear an insulin pump or carry around syringes, or feel the effects of high and low blood sugars. Advancements such as these make me believe even more that there will be a cure one day and that the treatment of type one diabetes will continue to grow better and easier. I can barely even imagine a life free of type one diabetes, but with encapsulation, it could become a reality.
Summer is a time to have fun, grow, and learn, and with this being my first year since I can remember that I wasn't going back to camp, I knew it was time to find another way to occupy my time. Of course, I would have running, friends, the beach, and so many more summer activities. But, being that I am almost 17, I knew I also needed some responsibility. So, I got a job.
I spent a good amount of my summer waitressing at a local grill that opened about 2 months ago. This was my first real job, so I had lots to learn. First off, I learned how to work a cash register, how to talk to customers, take orders, serve food, clean, and so much more. However, aside from all that, I had to keep my diabetes in mind. Of course, I made sure that my boss knew right away that I have diabetes, and told me that if I ever needed anything, to take a break and manage my blood sugar. Thankfully, there is a soda machine at the restaurant, so if I ever feel my blood sugar dropping I can easily pour myself some soda, which I have done multiple times. Waitressing is a very energetic job. I am on my feet all day and constantly moving around, carrying things, and talking, and it's hard to stop in the middle of a shift since people are waiting for you. I can easily and quickly go very low and be too preoccupied to treat my blood sugar, but I know that it's important to stay in a good range. I know that I need to stay healthy, and I also know that if I don't feel good, I won't be as good of a waitress, so in a sense, keeping my blood sugar normal while at work contributes to my performance. So, if I ever begin to feel my blood sugar dropping, I immediately stop what I am doing to treat it. I know I can't go low at work and that I will be moving around, so keeping my blood sugar under control is difficult and sometimes stressful but it is an extremely necessary task.
Having a job this summer helped me mature and handle my responsibilities and time. I learned a lot about a work environment, handling money, and time management. Additionally, I also think I can better relate to controlling diabetes in a work situation; it's much different than managing diabetes in school or with friends, because you feel a greater responsibility and pressure to always be working your best, and your blood sugar plays a major factor in that. However, I also realized how important it is to keep your blood sugar in range while at work and the importance of telling your boss about diabetes. I have had a great summer waitressing so far, and I know that I learned so much about jobs and about myself.
Hello everyone! I'm Hannah! I'm 16 years old and have been living a normal life with type 1 diabetes for 10 years! I'm so excited to share the journey of Penpals United with you through our blog!