KNOWLEDGE is Power

What
an incredible feeling to be sitting in a lecture hall packed with several
hundred people who are ALL diabetic -– save for a few poor non-effected
souls. I learned so much at UC San
Francisco’s Diabetes Patient Symposium
this weekend (!), I could blog about the
content of this event alone for weeks! For now, I will try to give an
overview of the biggest “wow’s” and take-aways.

As
a preface: Nick asks me what a symposium is, and whether it’s helpful for diabetics. I would say: If you have a university or
advanced diabetes center anywhere in your state, Get Thee to a Seminar. Diabeteseyes Definitely one of the MOST HELPFUL things you can do for yourself. The
one I attended this weekend was a half-day event with expert speakers covering
everything from how pancreas and islet transplantation actually works (and for
whom), to what EXACTLY is going on in stem cell research for diabetes now, to the
psychological obstacles to good self-care, i.e. diabetes burnout.

  • The real-live author of the book by same title was actually one of the speakers! Dr. William Polonsky, who is hugely entertaining, discussed the Personal, Social, and Behavioral side of diabetes, with a plug for his new non-profit group, Behavioral Diabetes Institute -– which seems to have enormous potential to help people get over the fear, self-pity, and other negative emotions that stifle so many of us diabetics. Keep in mind how revolutionary it is that an “academic” conference on diabetes now embraces the “touchy-feely” side of diabetes in this way! Shows
    that there is now widespread recognition of the struggle in our heads. Amen.
  • I finally understand what all the “pre-diabetes” fuss is about! In fact, they put my mother on Metformin recently after her fasting BG showed up at 117. I thought that was excessive and maybe a little dangerous. But it turns out that more “aggressive intervention” is yielding impressive results. While consistent adherence (key words!) to an improved diet and exercise regime reduces the likelihood of becoming Type 2 by 50%, apparently taking Metformin adds an additional 30% likelihood of remaining non-diabetic. You go, Mom!
  • Learned a WHOLE LOT about the new drugs Pramlintide (aka Symlin) and Exenatide. Dr. Umesh Masharani of UCSF’s world-class Diabetes Center explained that replacing the amylin hormone in diabetics — which is missing, but traditionally believed to be expendable — is essentially experimental. So who can benefit? Dr. Masharani says that Symlin is really only appropriate for a short list of particular patients who are unable to achieve sufficient control even with the most meticulous insulin therapy, but adds: “If a patient really wants to try it, why not?”
    Exenatide, derived from lizard saliva (for real!) seems to protect existing islet cells and may even help produce more in Type 2 diabetics, so definitely the more exciting of the two!
  • What kicks in Type 1 diabetes? Is it inherited? What we know is that it is a combination of a
    genetic predisposition plus “environmental factors” (dietary, stress, or virus-induced -– more on that soon). But can it be stopped? UCSF’s Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet is the most extensive clinical trial research program ever testing the efficacy of preventative methods. This study involves screening first degree relatives for
    ICA+ (an antibody
    test assessing likelihood of developing diabetes), and then
    “intervening” at different levels according to the individuals’
    risk. If you happen to live in the Bay Area and are interested in
    participating, click here.

* And finally, for those of you wondering about the
Teddy Bear/Sleepover party… there’s an expression in German for someone who
can’t “get it together”: “(s)he couldn’t organize a kids’ birthday party!” Obviously, whoever coined that one never had
children. Any minor break in the non-stop entertainment program means a
gaggle of screaming banshees
traversing the stairs at lightening speed!! Teeth-numbing shrieks, I tell
you! At least we had a respite between
ca.
11pm and 6am.
And the birthday girls were BLISSFUL. So
absolutely worth it, yes. Next
year? Don’t start with me!!

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2 Responses

  1. Violet
    Violet May 24, 2005 at 4:08 pm | | Reply

    Thank you, Amy, another awesomely informative post. I’ve already checked on the site for the Behavioral Diabetes Institute & found it quite interesting. Wish I lived close enough to attend some of their seminars.

  2. Kathy
    Kathy May 25, 2005 at 9:14 am | | Reply

    Thanks for all your wonderful posts. I just wanted to chime in that TrialNet is actually taking place all over the place, and I’ve included a link to their web site for more information.

    http://www.diabetestrialnet.org/hindex.html

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