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Archive for the ‘Diabetes’ Category

Diabetes in the New York Times

Before I received the diagnosis that I had Type 1 diabetes, I saw food as food, and ate it as such — simply, casually, with no real thought attached.

The winter of my senior year of college, after a bad cold and a painful breakup, I began eating more — not to cope, but to feel full. I was hungry, always hungry. Hungry and thirsty and tired, piling my tray in the dining hall with pasta, cheese, dessert, getting up in the middle of the night to slurp water from my dorm’s bathroom faucet.

I gorged myself and yet my pants were looser, my arms thinner, my stomach flatter. One afternoon I threw it all up, convinced I had food poisoning. My stomach eventually settled but my mind did not. The world swirled. I couldn’t stand without stumbling. On February 17th, 2001, I entered the hospital, and since that day, food has never been the same.

Tara Parker-Pope at the New York Times recently published an essay of mine in the Well blog called “Thinking About Diabetes With Every Bite.” about my experience living with Type 1 diabetes. Not only was I thrilled to have such a personal piece placed in the Times, but I’ve been incredibly touched by the wonderful feedback I’ve gotten from other people with Type 1 (and Type 2). It’s inspired me to keep writing about diabetes — if you want to read more, check out my Reluctant Diabetic blog over at the diabetes website, A Sweet Life.

Rebooting the Immune System

A sign rests on the windowsill in the office of Jeffrey Bluestone, director of the Immune Tolerance Network and the Diabetes Center at the University of California at San Francisco. Measuring nearly three feet across, it reads “Club Bluestone” in pink and blue neon. It’s the sort of artifact you’d expect to find in a bar. But Bluestone is a world-renowned immunobiologist; his father-in-law had the sign made for him in the late 1980s when Bluestone was working long hours in his lab at the University of Chicago. As the night wore on and their energy faded, he and his colleagues would turn out the lights, turn on the sign and, propelled by the power of Bruce Springsteen, push forward with their research. “It was our version of partying,” he says.

As you may already know, auto-immune diseases like Type 1 diabetes or multiple sclerosis occur when your immune system malfunctions and mistakes part of your own body for a foreign invader. In the case of Type 1, it’s when your body decides to kill off the cells that produce insulin, a hormone necessary to absorb the energy in your food. I think I speak for all Type 1 diabetics when I say that destroying these cells is not the body’s smartest move.

I was lucky enough to participate in a trial for a promising new drug — created by the aforementioned Jeffrey Bluestone — that attempted to stop my system from killing off the rest of my insulin-producing cells. What’s more, I recently got a chance to write about this drug — and others like it — for Popular Science. The article’s called “Rebooting the Body.” Here’s a link to a digital copy.

I also got a chance to speak about the piece on the New Hampshire Public Radio Show, Word of Mouth. You can listen to the interview here.

Diabetes Update

It’s nearly 2010 and, guess what? I still have Type 1 diabetes. Sucks. So I’m writing about it — on a site called A Sweet Life.

My latest contributions:

-a review of Riva Greenberg’s 50 Diabetes Myths That Can Ruin Your Life — and the 50 Diabetes Truths That Can Save It

-a review and taste test of yacon powder, a would-be wonder tuber that’s supposed to be a great sugar substitute

-an interview with Yale professor and researcher (and Type 1 diabetic) Kevan Herold

And, lastly, a guest post on Six Until Me about how to cope with holiday food.

The Reluctant Diabetic

A Sweet Life

I decided that it’s high time to connect my writing career with my life as a Type 1 diabetic. So I launched the Reluctant Diabetic, a blog that combines a personal account of what it’s like to live with Type 1 diabetes with news, information about research, and reviews of diabetes products — whether they be food, gadgets, books, clothing, or anything else geared toward making this disease a little easier to live with. These days, the blog is featured on the great new diabetes website A Sweet Life.

Diabetes on New Hampshire Public Radio

I just had the chance to speak about my article in Popular Science, Rebooting the Body, on the New Hampshire Public Radio show Word of Mouth. (For those who missed it, it’s about how a new drug, currently known as teplizumab, might be able to halt the progress of Type 1 diabetes — and potentially have uses in other autoimmune diseases.)

You can read more about the segment — and listen to the interview — here.

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