By MARK and STACIE OSHIMA
Hope. It’s a powerful thing. Great “philosophers” ranging from Aristotle to Tupac have written about hope’s ability to lift spirits, create renewal, and achieve the seemingly impossible.
Hope is also universally relatable — we can all remember a time when we hoped for a game-winning basket, good news from a friend, or an end to this dastardly pandemic.
For someone with Type 1 diabetes (T1D), like our 13-year-old son Evan, there’s an additional dimension to hope — hope that one day they can live life just like the rest of us do.
T1D is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin – a hormone essential to turning food into energy. It is unrelated to diet and lifestyle, and currently there is no cure for this disease that afflicts Evan and 1.6 million people in the U.S.
Part of Evan’s ongoing routine of living with T1D involves a series of activities that make his life harder. Before every meal or snack, he counts how many carbohydrates he’s going to eat so he can dose the appropriate amount of insulin. If he experiences a blood sugar low, he drinks juice and waits until his glucose levels increase before rejoining activities. If he experiences a blood sugar high, Evan doses himself insulin to bring his levels back into range.
Every three days, he changes the infusion set on his insulin pump. Every 10 days he changes his continuous glucose monitor (CGM). And, at every moment, he must have with him his “diabetes kit” — a sling that carries his juice, medications, and supplies. His kit can be life-saving if he suffers a diabetic episode.
Perhaps worst of all, he hears his parents constantly asking him if he’s “too high” or “too low” when his CGM alert goes off.
Sadly, all of this is necessary because the short- and long-term effects of mismanaging T1D are devastating. Blood sugars that are too low can result in a hypoglycemic coma. Blood sugars that are too high can lead to ketoacidosis, which requires hospitalization. Both complications are dangerous and potentially fatal.
If Evan doesn’t manage his condition over time, the long-term ramifications can also include blindness, neuropathy, strokes, and heart and kidney disease. It’s a lot for a 13-year-old to handle.
But that doesn’t mean we’re without hope. Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is working hard to fund research to find better treatments, technologies, and ultimately a cure for T1D.
On Nov. 7, our family is once again involved in the JDRF One Walk. While this year’s walk cannot be held at Anaheim Stadium due to COVID-19, we encourage you to join us in supporting JDRF’s “Your Place, Your Pace, Your Way” walk campaign.
And, while hope in and of itself is not a strategy, JDRF does have a strategy for one day helping those with T1D live normal lives. We invite you to join us in supporting JDRF in this cause. For those of you who are able to make a contribution to help JDRF turn “Type 1 into Type None,” we appreciate your generous support to Evan’s JDRF team, Evan’s Evangers: https://bit.ly/EvansEvangersJDRF2021
Your support will go even further right now, as our dear friend, Kristi Savacool, has pledged to donate $10,000 to match your donations.
Regardless of whether you can donate or not, we invite all of you to join Evan’s Evangers in support of this cause. Together we can create a world where hopes of Evan and 1.6 million other Americans with T1D will be fulfilled.