The last time I was in Palm Springs was a year ago for the TEDMED conference (relational platform?), and at the time I was mystified. It was a full house at the price of $4,950 a ticket, even though TED Talks are available for free online. The videos can be sped up if the speaker is boring, segments can be skipped, and tabs can be opened to keep the talk running in the background while getting some email done or shopping for shoes. There would seem, then, very little reason to need to go to the actual conference, to sit through marathon sessions where a fair number of speakers mess up or forget their lines (as I did).
One of the most studied programs in the National Institutes of Health’s Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). This program helps people who have pre-diabetes or a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes lose weight. Studies of the program have found that those who lost about seven percent of their initial weight, kept some of it off, and maintained an exercise program delayed the onset of type 2 diabetes for three years in 58% of cases.
As a global network of medical research charities, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) is driving research into new treatments that present tremendous opportunities to deliver enhanced health and wellbeing for people with type-1 diabetes. The technology I am currently most enthused about is glucose responsive insulin, which I think is going to transform how people treat and live with type 1 in the future.
Certain drugs that affect the brain can help to control chronic pain. Antidepressants in the class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which include duloxetine (Cymbalta), are often prescribed for pain. So are tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) such as amitriptyline (Elavil). SSRIs often boost energy, while TCAs can make you sleepy. According to the Harvard Medical School website, “Some physicians prescribe an SSRI during the day and amitriptyline at bedtime for pain patients.”
Anything that makes nerves more sensitive can increase pain. Feelings of stress, fear, helplessness, or anger can increase pain sensitivity. Trauma — such as a physical injury or psychological or sexual abuse — often leads to chronic pain later on. In a study of people with traumatic injuries conducted by researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle, nearly 63% had severe pain one year later. It may be that trauma causes nerves to become oversensitive as a way of trying to prevent further injury. This may be why military veterans have the highest rates of chronic pain.
For now, I manage my diabetes through a combination of technologies. I use a blood test meter to measure my glucose levels at least five times a day. I use a pump that is attached to my abdomen to deliver frequent doses of insulin throughout the day. And now I also use a continuous monitoring device that measures my subcutaneous blood sugar levels to help the insulin pump work more effectively.
Glucose is a simple sugar found in food. Glucose is an essential nutrient that provides energy for the proper functioning of the body cells. Carbohydrates are broken down in the small intestine and the glucose in digested food is then absorbed by the intestinal cells into the bloodstream, and is carried by the bloodstream to all the cells in the body where it is utilized. However, glucose cannot enter the cells alone and needs insulin to aid in its transport into the cells. Without insulin, the cells become starved of glucose energy despite the presence of abundant glucose in the bloodstream. In certain types of diabetes, the cells' inability to utilize glucose gives rise to the ironic situation of "starvation in the midst of plenty". The abundant, unutilized glucose is wastefully excreted in the urine.
Insulin — the hormone that allows your body to regulate sugar in the blood — is made in your pancreas. Essentially, insulin resistance is a state in which the body’s cells do not use insulin efficiently. As a result, it takes more insulin than normal to transport blood sugar (glucose) into cells, to be used immediately for fuel or stored for later use. A drop in efficiency in getting glucose to cells creates a problem for cell function; glucose is normally the body’s quickest and most readily available source of energy.
There is no cure for diabetes. It’s a chronic condition that must be managed for life. This seems odd, given all the modern medical technology we have at our disposal. We can insert heart pacemakers, perform liver transplants, even adapt to bionic limbs, but coming up with a replacement for the islets that produce insulin in the pancreas appears to be out of reach for now. There is something about the pancreas that makes it difficult to fix, which is part of the reason pancreatic cancer remains so deadly.
According to Christine Sullivan, founder of Real Help for Chronic Pain, an online pain management program, “Chronic pain is almost never merely a physical thing. We can see from brain mapping that chronic pain uses very different nerve paths from acute pain. In fact, the brain maps of chronic pain look just like the brain maps of intense emotions like anger, or sadness, or fear.”