Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Forecast Diaries

I'm always excited when I get a new issue of Diabetes Forecast. Back when it was ADA Forecast, that is.

They are,for the most part,non-existant & rarely come up on Ebay.(every few years) I have some from the 40's,50's,and 60's,and this one is from 1971.My goal is to own the complete shebang(it may not even be possible,how many people keep outdated diabetes mags circa 1954?)I used to have most of them from the mid 1980's to 2005,but I had to get rid of them (due to space constraints,I had 200+ magazines in my small apartment) I kept the Dec.1998 issue,(for obvious sentimental reasons) and the May 2001 issue(because of my Reflections article in it). The modern day stuff is nothing great,but I love collecting the old issues.(as time goes by,I might even bump the "old" criteria to the 1980's,officially making myself into an antiquity as well) I don't know when Forecast became Diabetes Forecast...sometime in the late '70's,perhaps?

So when it arrived,I eagerly tore into it,searching for "Dave's Diary" (when we last left our hero,he was out to a picnic lunch with his fiancée,which he handled perfectly and had lovely blue urine tests to prove it.)Much to my dissapointment,o'le Dave had semi-retired from the article updates,but he came back this one time to "thank" the lady you see on the cover, for her many years of helping diabetics with their diets.(she contributed to the Forecast food articles) So there was that,she sounded like a very selfless,giving person.(as a Catholic sister)

There's usually at least one "real life" interest story in the magazine,and the one in this one was a real humdinger of one. The individual was Lowell Palmer,who by 1971 had already lived 51 years with diabetes,49 of those with insulin.Dx'd as a junior in high school,he was basically told by the doc to take it easy,no exercise,limited carbs.Advice he ignored,and pretty much did as he wanted.(with regards to extreme exercise) And that worked in his favor..he didn't deteriorate quite as fast.I don't know about you,but prior to my diagnosis,exercise was the very last thing on my list of desired activities.It just made me drink 4 gallons a day vs 2. And I dropped off the basketball team,it was just pure torture. It must have helped preserve his beta function.(individuals really vary in the time they go before being dx'd) He put off going to collage for a year,but when he did,he started to rapidly deteriorate,despite being on the restricted diet.(1200 calories a day,40 carbs,69 grams protein,89 fat) Tanked 15 lbs to 120,& the doc actually did bloodwork which showed his bg to be 280 with high urine sugar.He didn't have the money to go to a diabetes specialist & no one knew about the discovery of insulin.Went back to school,got
sick during exams.He went home,went into a coma.(when your beta cells finally do poop out you get really sick,really fast)His room mate then called his doctor.The doc came out,&assissted by the roommate,put him in the back of the doc's Model T Ford and away they zoomed(in the middle of a December Blizzard) to Massachusett's General Hospital where he got the first ever injection of insulin.(that they'd ever given) He briefly came out of the coma but went back in it when they ran out of insulin.They got more in,& he came out of the coma.In 2.5 years,he lost 50 lbs(weighing in a scant 112 lbs at hospitilization). Insulin was not yet "standardized" in terms of how much a unit would lower blood glucose,and how much carbohydrate it would metabolize.A vial of insulin only contained around 50 cc.(and cost $2.50) In 1923 this was no small expense,as he went through a vial a day.In exchange for free insulin,he volunteered to be a lab rat & help (Eli Lilly?) them standardize the insulin concentration.He kept careful food records along with collecting urine & (simultanious)blood samples,(storing them in small vials) which he took to the lab each night.Eventually the H-10 gave way to U-20 and U-40 insulins gave way to U-80 and U-100,and the long acting insulins hit the market(in the late 1930's).It's interesting how we have come full circle and (popular opinion) dictates that short-acting insulin is (in most cases) the best way to go again.Diabetes fads rise and fall,but the realness of the disease remains.
After graduation,the issue of employment arose.To circumvent the issue of discrimination(the job required a physical exam,& if said urine test showed sugar there was no way the employer would hire him), he went to a HR rep who had diabetes himself(and I guess,fudged the results).40 years later,he retired(with only 30 days of time taken off for health reasons). That's pretty incredible.

Tune in tomorrow for the start of #dblog week!

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1 comment:

Scott K. Johnson said...

I think that's a pretty neat collection! I'm sure it's probably pretty incredible to read some of that old stuff!