Today is World Diabetes Day.
Today we celebrate and honor Jack.
Today 40 more children will be diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
Today we join millions of others around the globe, as we recognize all of these children and adults, who will spend the rest of their lives fighting this disease unless a cure is found.
Most days, we try to make diabetes just one facet of our lives. Today, we will recognize what a big facet that is. As much as we try to instill in Jack that he is a boy with two siblings, with brown hair and brown eyes, who loves Legos and art and science and tennis, who enjoys going to Cub Scout meetings and birthday parties and the movies, and who happens to have diabetes, we also know that, out of necessity, diabetes influences his every day. He is different than his siblings. He does not play with his Legos when his blood sugar is so low he can not function. He can not focus well enough to draw a picture or read about science, when his blood sugar is too high. He must test his blood before eating cake at any party. He must take his D kit with its life-saving insulin and other supplies to every movie, every tennis lesson and every Cub Scout meeting.
Jack is not alone. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than 220 million people worldwide have diabetes (all types combined). That number is likely to more than double by 2030 without intervention.
So today is World Diabetes Day, a global holiday created in 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation and the WHO in response to the alarming rise in diabetes around the world.
In 2007, the United Nations marked the Day for the first time with the passage of the United Nations World Diabetes Day Resolution in December 2006, which made the existing World Diabetes Day an official United Nations World Health Day.
Diabetes education and prevention is the World Diabetes Day theme for the period 2009-2013. The campaign calls on all those responsible for diabetes care to understand diabetes and take control.
For people with diabetes, this is a message about empowerment through education.
For governments, it is a call to implement effective strategies and policies for the prevention and management of diabetes to safeguard the health of their citizens with and at risk of diabetes. (Hello, school districts?!)
For healthcare professionals, it is a call to improve knowledge, so that evidence-based recommendations are put into practice.
For the general public, it is a call to understand the serious impact of diabetes, be aware of the warning signs, and know how to avoid or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes and its complications. (Type 1 is an autoimmune disorder. Type 2 is a metabolic disorder. Type 1 can not be prevented. For many people, type 2 can be prevented.)
Diabetes is deadly, if not detected, and still often life-threatening when it is detected. Know the warning signs!
The warning signs* of diabetes include:
• Frequent urination
• Excessive thirst
• Increased hunger
• Weight loss
• Lack of interest and concentration
• Vomiting and stomach pain (often mistaken as the flu)
• A tingling sensation or numbness in the hands or feet
• Blurred vision
• Frequent infections
• Slow-healing wounds
*These can be mild or absent in people with type 2 diabetes.
If you show these signs, seek medical attention!
November 14th also marks the birthday of Frederick Banting who, along with Charles Best, was instrumental in the discovery of insulin in 1922, a life-saving treatment for diabetes patients.
From the bottom of our hearts, thank you Frederick Banting and Charles Best! Jack is alive because of you!
As you can see above, the World Diabetes Day logo is the blue circle. Across cultures, the circle symbolizes life and health. The color blue reflects the sky that unites all nations and is the color of the United Nations flag. The blue circle signifies the unity of the global diabetes community in response to the diabetes pandemic.
Today, we unite with others.
Today, we acknowledge this disease that has profoundly affected us, and we hope you will, too.
Here's to World Diabetes Day! Here's to good health, happy days and a bright future!
* This was originally posted on World Diabetes Day 2009. I reposted it last year, and I thought it was worth reposting again this year.