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A year ago, my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 23. He is a fourth year cadet at United States Military Academy at West Point. His desire was to continue to serve as an officer in the U.S. Army. For the last nine months, he has worked hard to prove to the military medical review board that he can manage his diabetes while serving.
I'm proud to say that he has brought his A1c down to 5.6 while continuing his rigorous regimen at West Point. He has high hopes of being able to graduate as an officer. Another cadet with type 1 diabetes in the 2009 graduating class was the first ever to graduate from West Point. My son would be the second. Knowing him, he won't be content with a desk job. He is planning on being deployed to the Middle East.
Since the discovery of insulin less than 100 years ago, diabetes treatment and technology have come a long way in helping people with diabetes manage their disease. Both of my sons use an insulin pump. But, it doesn't stop with home blood glucose monitoring and insulin pumps. To name a few:
I've read recently that researchers are working on a device that will regulate blood glucose levels on its own, i.e. an "artificial pancreas." This device is actually being built and is undergoing testing. This artificial pancreas is actually a marriage between the insulin pump, the continuous glucose monitor, and a computer program that calculates how much insulin the user needs at any moment based on his blood glucose level.
Having two sons with type 1 diabetes, I'm encouraged for their future. What are your thoughts?
Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N.
Peggy Moreland, R.N.
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Congrats to your sons. I was dx age 36 with type 1. On pump now for 15 years. Progressive illness requiring more and more insulin and stricter diet. Pretty soon feel like I won't be able to eat hardly anything. Scientist need to speed up research because a ton of us are dying here.
My daughter age 28 was just diagnosed with Diabetes Type 1, showing up in the ER with a Glucose over 600. She has no medical insurance but what concerns me most is what she can eat right now. What book or website will give me information on what to eat and what not to eat, I need recipies. Thanks
I m really very optimistic on this, if at all this is so then it is a good news,i have been always wondering about something like this. sooner the better for all people with Diabetes.
My son is been dignosed for type 1 diabetese 3 weeks before,he is 5 yrs old.I am using insulin pen to inject insulin.also i am giving him extract of STIVIA (a hearb usefull in rebuilding beta cell).I really appriciate your son taking it so breavly.I wish him best luck and hope for some groundbreaking invention to finish the insulin dependancy.
Time for a Real Cure: My son is no fool and is very realistic about his future. We are very proud of him. He is an inspiration to others diagnosed with type 1 in the military. It is not usual Army policy to keep soldiers with type 1 diabetes. His brother was medically discharged with type 1 diabetes even though he is fluent in Russian. My son has ongoing medical evaluations and granted, although he may not be deployable to a combat zone, there are plenty of military jobs that he is more than capable of performing.
What fool with Type 1 diabetes would want to be deployed to the middle east? Not only will you die rapidly if there is some delay in access to your diabetes supplies and insulin (or if there is a pump problem), a severe low blood glucose level can harm both yourself and possibly your fellow soldiers. And all Type 1 diabetics, especially on tight control, will have a few unpredictable lows. I also suspect that this person's son is still honeymooning. It's more than likely not going to be so easy to pull a 5.6 Alc 5 years in, even on a pump during such rigorous training. Lastly, I too tune out the airy fairy "artificial pancreas" and cure in 5 years optimistic promises too. Think about it, the liability is too great. Even if the technology was perfect (it's not even close) the cost to the customer would have to be sky high to turn a profit. All for a potentially fallible machine that still requires insertions, pokes, and consumable products. Plus, what will the long term T1s do about scar tissue, which will affect the system?
Nancy and Peggy,
I'm not sure who's son is set to graduate from West Point, but congratulations. What an accomplishment. Likewise, what an accomplishment to persuade the medical board to allow such a thing.
Something I learn just recently is that veterans are more than twice as likely to suffer from diabetes as non-veterans. Similarly, individuals who suffer from diabetes are twice as likely to suffer hearing loss.
That puts our veteran population in a very high risk category for hearing loss. Please make your son aware of this and encourage him to take precautionary measures (when practical) and use hearing protection.
Also, please keep hearing loss in mind when you come into contact with your patients. As hearing loss can contribute to withdrawal, depression and isolation, it can also lead suffers to neglect their other medical conditions.
Lastly, if you encounter any veterans or family members of veterans who are suffering from untreated hearing loss, and they are not receiving treatment from either TRICARE or the VA, please refer them to my company, HearUSA.
The following YouTube video describes the program we have to help these folks:
Thank you, and best of luck to your son.
Brenda: Probably the closest thing to the "insulin patch" is the tubeless insulin pumps. They are getting smaller.
One of my husband's soldiers was dx'd with T1 as a reservist. He went through the med board process and allowed to stay in but he is not deployable.
While a "desk job" may not be his preference and he wants to deploy (totally get that, there are 3 stars on my blue star banner); it is important to have quality leaders "left behind" as well. Make sure he takes into account the military medical benefit, if it is determined he may still recieve his commission.
We were given our dx about 2 years ago and we are so thankful for all that Tricare covers for our daughters care. While we may have had bumps and bruises along the way learning our coverage (and an appeal process for a cgms), we know we are more fortunate than others in our benefits.
Best of luck to him and to you, his family.
When are they going to come out with a bloodless glucometer???
I have heard talk that there is a patch available for Type 1 diabetes. Wouldn't that be wonderful if something so simple could be used in place of pokes, sticks and constant worry.
Jim: Both boys were diagnosed while in the military. In most cases the medical review board medically discharges the soldier with diabetes.
At 22, I was diagnosed with type I. That was 1985. My diabetes nurse educator made the mistake of telling me she believed there would be cure in 10 years. In 1995, when I was still coping with the daily rigors of this disease, I must say I was devastated. I should have known she was being overly optimistic. But she should have known better than to put false hopes into her patients.
I was diagnosed at 12 and am now 23. Technology contributing to healthy living for diabetics has improved tremendously, but the cost is out of control. Thank God I found a job with good health insurance because my money was running out. And thank God for this new healthcare bill. This was and may continue to be a problem for jobless graduates. My problem now is soaring blood sugars due to inactivity from my desk job. Does the military accept diabetics or do you have to be diagnosed after enrollment?
Yes, diabetes management has come a long way. My grandmother, who died in 1971, tested her blood glucose with a urine stick which was color-coded. Two of my daughters who both were diagnosed as children with type 1 are on insulin pumps. The technological advances are great but the final determination as to what gets used is left to the insurance companies. One daughter would be on the continuous glucose monitoring but our insurance company doesn't cover the special disposable pads that go with that system. It is too expensive for her to buy them on her own. There is always a big lapse of time between the introduction of new technology and what the insurance companies will cover.
Hi, my son now 20 was diagnose with type 1 diabetics at the age 12, he was wearing the pump at the age of 13 and as you I pray and believe that the cure will be here in the next 20 years but in the meantime they have the tools to better control it and live a productive life.
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