World Diabetes Day and a history lesson


If you ask people what the greatest invention of the 20th century was, you'll get a host of answers: the Internet, cell phones, White Out.

If you asked me for my vote, insulin would win, finger-pricked hands down. It still amazes me that, had I been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a mere two or three generations earlier, the outcome would have been a lot different. Had I even survived the diagnosis, I would have faced a very miserable, short life following what amounts to a starvation diet (butter and meat anyone?).

Today is World Diabetes Day (yes, more awareness raising), so picked because Nov. 14 is the birth date of Frederick Banting who, at age 32, received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1923 for the discovery—in 1921—of insulin.

In the decades since, there have been many amazing inventions to help people manage diabetes: disposable syringes (no more boiling), glucometers (no more guessing), insulin pumps and of course, insulin itself has been much improved since those early days.

But the basic concept of insulin, a mere 90 years later, remains the same.

One of my favorite things to read in Diabetes Forecast is stories of insulin users who have earned medals for surviving 50 years or more, no small feat considering how prehistoric their early treatment must have been.

Tonight, I am off to dinner with coworkers at one of the finest restaurants in a city renowned for fine dining, and I cannot wait to eat, within reason, whatever the hell I want.

Theresa Flaherty
Type 1 diabetes, 12.5 years