Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A preventable tragedy

Ok, I admit; in hindsight I should have warned you. I'm not proud of it, and really I'm working on this part of me...start strong, then flame out. Aaargh.

There has been a nearly 6 month blog layoff and I could easily attribute it to:

a) the down economy. Really this has nothing to do with my blogging, it just seems to be the vogue scapegoat.
b) much like a bear, I hibernate for nearly 6 months; stocking up on good diabetes tales.
c) my writer was on strike, insisting on a pay increase. Finally we resolved our differences (I'm now $.01/hr. poorer).
d) Lazy.

Ok, there I said it (lazy). I meant to blog once a week, but meaning to and actually doing it are apparently two very different things. A lot, and I mean A TON has happened in the last 6 months. Some good, some bad...but more about that at a later time.

Something I saw recently shocked me back to the mission of this blog - to encourage, inspire, and lead everyone who is touched by diabetes to the insulin pump. Here's the story:

A few weeks ago we were out on the East Coast, and everyone in and around New York was talking about the NY Jets NFL team. The city and surrounding boroughs were buzzing with excitement at the team's recent successes, and the club was only one game away from the elusive Super Bowl. As you can imagine, every radio and TV program covered one angle or another...and a word like over-saturation is not quite strong enough to describe the monotony of the same recycled sound clips and stories; replayed ad nauseam.

But then I heard it, and I was instantly intrigued.

The owner, Woody Johnson said that he was happy for the team's recent run of victories, but it felt empty to him because of the recent tragic loss of his daughter.

Now I was hooked and I had to find out what happened.

Casey Johnson was an heiress. Her Dad, Woody is the leader of one of the world's most trusted and profitable companies, Johnson & Johnson. Casey was a young socialite, a 30 year old woman who was well acquainted with the nightlife and all of the trappings therein. She stood to inherit her father's company one day, but unfortunately that day would never come.

She had been hospitalized twice within the last year. She, like most everyone, had some health issues to deal with. But she was not doing well.

Casey had type-1 diabetes.

She had been hospitalized for high blood sugars, and their nasty consequences. But each of those two prior times, her internal organs were resilient enough to bounce back.

But diabetes can be merciless, unforgiving, and unbiased. It doesn't care about your race, culture, occupation, or fortune you may or may not inherit one day.

When I dig a little deeper, and read the cause of death it brought great sadness (and some fear) to me. It was listed simply as:

diabetic ketoacidosis

It's a highly dangerous condition that can be avoided by controlling your blood sugar levels. It can lead to all kinds of permanent damage, and is often accompanied by a coma. The worst cases are fatal. It's a very cruel form of russian roulette that some never walk away from.

Now, I am not here judging her or anyone for that matter. I have experienced ketoacidosis before, and it is, frankly, devastatingly awful. My personal opinion is that no one ever thinks it will happen to them...but in fact in the year 2010 it still does. And that's really sad to me.

It's been reported she was not taking her shots, nor following her suggested regimen. Again, easy to criticize - but if I were being totally honest I'd have to admit I haven't always given 100%, 90%, or even 50% occasionally - have you?

Here's where the motivation for me comes in...

Not just to share this sad story that makes me very emotional, even as I write it and ponder it again...but to know, to just know that the insulin pump may have prevented this tragedy.

That's why I want to write again, to reach the NEXT Casey Johnson, or Woody Johnson, and to implore do anything to get on the pump. I just wish someone, anyone would have reached her before ketoacidosis took her.

I wish I could have.

See, the truth is, Casey could have been me.

The pump can extend lives, it can improve lives, it can augment lives, and it can save lives.

Until next time, please keep pumpin...


Keel said...

Great blog, and glad to see you back writing again. I was shocked when I read about Casey's cause of death because I know what it is.. and how quickly and easily it can sneak up on you. Keep pumpin' J, we love you!!!

Little Tony said...

I looked at the video below and couldn't believe how young your kids where the last time you blogged!