Today I make an exception to my hard-fast rule never to reveal intimate details of my life. I’m old school, I guess, and believe I should remain professional at all times.
Several months ago I made the acquaintance of Stuart Wimbles on Twitter. Stuart operates a website amidiabetic.com. Stuart has Type 1 diabetes (aka Juvenile diabetes). His mission is to help others diagnosed with diabetes, or who suspect they might have it, adjust to life as a diabetic.
amidiabetic is completely self-funded by Stuart. He has built an extensive site chock full of information about diabetes management, along with chat forums so diabetics do not feel alone with an often bewildering medical condition. His Twitter following numbers nearly 60,000.
This is where it gets personal for me. My father is a Type 1 diabetic. He was undiagnosed until his late 40’s. By then, the damage was done. Kidney failure at 31. Heart disease with the first major heart attack at 67 years old. He is a brittle diabetic, which means it is very hard to control blood sugar levels. Hospital emergency trips are routine for my parents.
This year my father’s situation became drastic. He developed an ulcer on his foot last December that would not heal. Poor circulation is notorious in diabetics, especially in the feet. Wound infections rapidly bore into bones and death by sepsis is a real possibility. He had a partial amputation of his foot.
In January, it was clear he was dying. The only way to save his life was amputate at his lower calf. It was a 9 month long rocky road until he was released from hospital. At one point, there was discussion of a further amputation mid-thigh. My mother, as his sole caregiver (I live 6 hours away), declined physically and emotionally to the point where she was non-functioning. My parents are 78 and 76.
My brother was diagnosed several years ago with Type 2 diabetes (adult onset). He takes insulin pills. He will one day become reliant on insulin shots.
I had gestational diabetes with my first child. My risk factor for developing diabetes is elevated because of this and the family history. I have non-diabetic hypoglycemia attacks (extremely low blood sugar) – a diabetes precursor. I have passed out more than once during an episode.
We’ve all seen people when we are shopping etc. in a wheelchair with missing limbs or walk with a pronounced awkward gait with a prosthetic leg. These are commonly diabetes victims.
Diabetes is an insidious disease. Diabetic complications include serious, even fatal, deterioration of:
- Blood vessels
- Sexual function
The No. 1 cause of death of diabetics is heart disease. Medical professionals predict diabetes will be epidemic within the next decade or so as obesity rates continually rise. Officials are referring to our children.
I was greatly dismayed to read a tweet by Stuart this week that he may be forced to shut down his website in February, 2013 when his domain and hosting contract expires. He cannot afford to renew.
This is, for obvious reasons, a cause I deeply believe in. Sixty thousand people, not including members of the website, plus countless others will be the losers. Diabetes is not selective. You, me, family members and friends – we are all potential victims.
Stuart is a genuine, generous and caring individual. I first met Stuart when he retweeted me. Since then, it’s a rare week we don’t exchange a few words on Twitter.
I ask you to join me in donating to Stuart’s website so he can continue his invaluable support to those afflicted by this scourge. He needs to raise $180 for the renewal.
In the meantime, please consider a donation. No amount is too small. Stuart and I thank you for taking the time to read this post and any assistance you are able to offer.