Hoping for a Cure……But

Hoping for a Cure……But

commentary by Toby Smithson---

Diabetes is rightly described as an epidemic. New estimates put the number of cases in the U.S. at just shy of 26 million in 2011, and nearly 2 million new adult cases were diagnosed in 2010. A paper entitled Projection of Diabetes Burden Through 2050: Impact of changing demography and disease prevalence in the U.S. published in Diabetes Care in November, 2001 (only 10 years ago!!) forecast that the number of cases in the U.S. would reach 29 million by the year 2050. We are well ahead of schedule. The “updated” estimate for 2050 is up to one-third of all Americans; plus or minus 100 million cases. We’ll likely make that 29 million by sometime in 2012. The worldwide figures are just as alarming.

Not surprisingly, research into causes, treatment and an ultimate cure is happening everywhere. And, enlightening and promising results are common. You’ll find information about these projects posted on DiabetesEveryDay.com almost every week. With literally hundreds of millions of dollars each year going to support research into diabetes and related metabolic conditions it is impossible to not be hopeful. And who could say the affected aren’t entitled to hope, and not just those of us with diabetes but also parents and spouses and children and friends. As you might imagine, after more than 40 years of managing my own diabetes daily (hourly) I could get pretty enthusiastic about a potential cure.

So, don’t take this wrong.................................

Join or Log in to get a fresh look at diabetes self-management with DiabetesEveryDay in your cornercommentary by Toby Smithson--

Diabetes is rightly described as an epidemic. New estimates put the number of cases in the U.S. at just shy of 26 million in 2011, and nearly 2 million new adult cases were diagnosed in 2010. A paper entitled Projection of Diabetes Burden Through 2050: Impact of changing demography and disease prevalence in the U.S. published in Diabetes Care in November, 2001 (only 10 years ago!!) forecast that the number of cases in the U.S. would reach 29 million by the year 2050. We are well ahead of schedule. The “updated” estimate for 2050 is up to one-third of all Americans; plus or minus 100 million cases. We’ll likely make that 29 million by sometime in 2012. The worldwide figures are just as alarming.

Not surprisingly, research into causes, treatment and an ultimate cure is happening everywhere. And, enlightening and promising results are common. You’ll find information about these projects posted on DiabetesEveryDay.com almost every week. With literally hundreds of millions of dollars each year going to support research into diabetes and related metabolic conditions it is impossible to not be hopeful. And who could say the affected aren’t entitled to hope, and not just those of us with diabetes but also parents and spouses and children and friends. As you might imagine, after more than 40 years of managing my own diabetes daily (hourly) I could get pretty enthusiastic about a potential cure.

So, don’t take this wrong.

All of this promising research could actually be dangerous. Let me explain. If you have diabetes, or if someone you care about is affected by diabetes, then you know how overwhelming it can be.

If we commit to effective self-management, then our lives are partly consumed by diabetes. Our efforts here at DiabetesEveryDay are devoted to making effective self-management easier, but we never pretend we can make it easy. Those of us who live this life are familiar with the demands.

But, if we don’t commit to effective management, then the odds of debilitating and life threatening consequences (complications) are high. You probably know the menu of potential disasters already, but likely prefer not to think about the details.

So what if we all simply “decided” that a cure is imminent….if you read what I read (and what we post to DiabetesEveryDay) you could make a pretty strong case. We could trade our “hoping for a cure” for “waiting for a cure”…..anticipation. Those of us who now spend our days eating less than we’re tempted to eat, counting carbohydrate grams, exercising when we’d rather not, taking our medication, visiting our doctors, and looking for ways we could be even more effective could get that “diabetes” part of our life back. The “cure” will fix whatever damage we might do between now and then. And, those who have never committed to self-management in the first place could relax, and dismiss that almost imperceptible looming sense of terror for the payback that’s sure to come for diabetes ignored. The “cure” is within reach.

Or is it? I honestly don’t know, and I don’t mean for this to be a negative piece. The thing is, we all look for “closure”…..we aspire to complete a goal…..to get on to something else. It is very difficult to view something relatively unpleasant, like daily diabetes self-management responsibilities, as never-ending. The promise of a cure is real enough, and that promise can start looking like our finish line. That promise could actually be our finish line.

But coasting to the finish line only works when you’re going downhill, and managing diabetes well is not a downhill coast. So let’s hope for a cure, for ourselves and for those coming after us, but let’s not catch ourselves so overconfident that we lose focus on our main goal. To live a long, healthy and active life in spite of diabetes and in spite of the daily challenges we consistently overcome by keeping our commitment to managing diabetes well.

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