Sunday, September 11, 2011

Nora's Crocodile Walkers in 2011

Dear Family, Friends, Loved Ones, and Colleagues,

I am asking for your help. Asking for nothing would be my fondest wish right now, but I simply can’t abide my life if I have not made efforts to help my own family. I hope you can offer some kind of financial support to bolster the great research happening today which is bringing a cure for diabetes a bit closer. For those who are interested to know more, please read on. I have tried to help someone on the outside of the problem appreciate a bit of the reality of life with diabetes.

Eight years ago our family experienced a profound transformation. We became a family with a type 1 diabetic child. Our first child, Eleanor, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes while she was still only two. Each day since then, each hour, has included some chore, task, reference, thought, or responsibility demanded of us by diabetes. Please do not think of this as an exaggeration, because if I err, it will be in making the demands less pressing than what they are.

And so we live. We focus on life with as much positive energy as we can. Nora does an excellent job of accepting her circumstances on most days. The rest of us do as well. Blood sugar checks number into the multi-thousands that have been endured so far. Daily shots have given way to the self enclosed delivery device called an OmniPod. This device still has to be monitored, though, and changed no less than every three days. This involves having a spring loaded needle inject the delivery line under the skin. It hurts. The insulin that we have put into the pod then gets gradually delivered into the blood as programming suggests. Who programs it? We do. The programming is based on experience and ever-changing needs of the user. Nothing is automatic; not really.

And so we plan. After eight years we are getting pretty proficient with our knowledge of food and its various carbohydrate counts. Nora gives herself more insulin, called a bolus, whenever she eats. This is based on the carbohydrates in the food. Again, formulas are used, but life is inexact. We still practice a refined form of guess work when needed. When the birthday parties, sleepovers, field trips, celebration dinners, etc. arise, we try our best to plan for it, or at least react well to what is being offered. Nora is growing and changing, and her insulin demands continue to change accordingly. She recently completed a kids’ triathlon, proving that her limits are still far on the horizon.

And we educate. Nora is older, and we all are slightly wiser. Still we find ourselves dealing frequently with misconceptions and ignorance about diabetes. Since Nora’s pod is sometimes visible she gets asked about it. She explains the situation quite well, but I wonder when she might get sick of saying it all. Well meaning people, both family and friends alike, still make comments that amaze me. Recently we were asked again if it is OK for Nora to have chocolate. I have heard someone telling another that she is not allowed to eat sugar. Others persist in these outdated assumptions that come from times when diabetes was not understood well, and its management tools were severely limited.

And we hope. Our lives are woven with the demands of type 1 diabetes. But the reason we ask for help and support is because we hope for a day when we can let go of that part of life. We hope to leave behind our diabetic lifestyle one day soon. Please help us to reach that important goal.

We are walking again this year on October 29th at Military Park, Indianapolis. The Walk for a Cure is a great day to bring together hundreds of people in one place to support JDRF and its efforts fund research. If you wish to donate, you can do so online by following the links I have listed below. You may also write a check payable to JDRF. Any size of donation is useful and appreciated, and all are tax deductible.

Please visit my walk fundraising page at the following link. This will allow you to make an online donation if you should choose to do so. Of course, it would be very exciting and helpful if you would want to join our walk team. Information is also at this link:

We are hoping to do well for Nora’s team this year, just as my wife Lisa’s cycling team efforts have been such a huge success, thanks to the generosity of others. Thanks for your time in reading this. You are part of the cure.

Andy Blythe,
Nora’s Crocodile Rockers, Team Captain

For further information, here are some truths that you should remember…
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic, debilitating disease affecting every organ system. There are two major types of diabetes: type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which a person's pancreas stops producing insulin, a hormone that enables people to get energy from food. Type 1 diabetes usually strikes in childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood, and lasts a lifetime. Just to survive, people with type 1 diabetes must take multiple injections of insulin daily or continually infuse insulin through a pump. Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder in which a person's body still produces insulin but is unable to use it effectively. Type 2 is usually diagnosed in adulthood and does not always require insulin injections. However, increased obesity has led to a recent rise in cases of type 2 diabetes in children and young adults.

Taking insulin does not cure any type of diabetes, nor does it prevent the possibility of the disease's devastating effects: kidney failure, blindness, nerve damage, amputation, heart attack, stroke, and pregnancy complications.

The Scope of Diabetes
• Nearly 24 million Americans have diabetes (7.8 percent of the population):
Diagnosed: 17.9 million
Undiagnosed: 5.7 million
• As many as three million Americans may have type 1 diabetes.
• Diabetes currently affects 285 million people worldwide and is expected to affect 435 million by 2030.
• In the U.S., a new case of diabetes is diagnosed every 30 seconds; more than 1.6 million people are diagnosed each year.

The Cost of Diabetes
• Diabetes is one of the costliest chronic diseases.
• In 2007, diabetes accounted for $174 billion in health care costs in the U.S.
• Diabetes accounts for 32 percent of all Medicare expenditures.
• The nation spent $11,744 annually on each person with diabetes in 2007 compared to $2,935 on each person without diabetes.
• Americans with diabetes incur medical expenses that are approximately 2.3 times higher than those incurred by Americans without diabetes.
• U.S. hospital stays related to diabetes totaled $58.3 billion in 2007.
• An estimated 22 percent of hospital inpatient days in the U.S. were incurred by people with diabetes in 2007.

The Harm Caused by Diabetes
Damage to Many Organ Systems: Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, adult blindness, and non-traumatic amputations. It is also a leading cause of nerve damage.

Increased Heart Disease Risk: People with diabetes are two-to-four times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than people without the disease.

Shortened Life: Diabetes kills one American every three minutes and is the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. Life expectancy for people with diabetes has historically been shortened by an average of seven to 10 years, and the risk of death for people with diabetes is about double that of people of similar age without diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes, 2004; KRC Research for JDRF, Jan. 2005

For more information, visit the JDRF web site at or call 800-533-CURE.