When I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes all I knew about the condition was that I would be insulin dependent for the rest of my life. I didn’t think much about the details about the invention of insulin until I became more involved with diabetes advocacy. I was surprised to discover that before the discovery of insulin in 1921, a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes was a death sentence.
Diabetes is one of the most studied diseases in the history of medicine, whose first mentions trace back to a collection of Egyptian medical texts proposing a treatment of a decoction of bones, wheat, grain, grit, green lead and earth. The Indian physician, Sushruta, and the surgeon Charaka were able to distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, termed as “madhumeha” (literally, ‘honey urine’).
The term “diabetes mellitus” was introduced in 1674 by the British physician Thomas Willis who defined diabetes mellitus as the “Pissing Evil.” It was only in 1776, that physician, natural philosopher and experimental physiologist Matthew Dobson discovered that urine of diabetic patients is sweet because of excess sugar.
Before the discovery of Insulin doctors were confused as to what caused diabetes. Was it a problem with kidneys, a metabolic issue? Not knowing the cause, all manner of bizarre treatments were prescribed from high calorie diets to fasting to opium. The founder of the Joslin Diabetes Centre, advocated for severe, prolonged fasting and under-nourishment as a cure for diabetes, coined the “starvation diet”.
Discovering that the problem lay with the pancreas took many years and experiments.
To give you a long history and treatise on the discovery of Insulin is not my goal, rather I hope it will inspire reflection on the ground-breaking discoveries we make as humans and the miracle of medicine and science.
I’m not a science nerd. I am a physical, emotional type, a dancer. Diabetes has forced me to find interest in things I wouldn’t naturally be drawn to. It’s made me more rational, reasonable and logical and I am starting to like this new part of me. Especially right now in the midst of this pandemic.
I admit I have been trolling conversations on facebook, just to try and put myself in the shoes of my friends who are struggling in the current climate. The ones who are adamant that the vaccines we are being asked to take are dangerous, that the statistics and scientists are wrong, coerced or lying because there is a much larger plan at work. That our freedoms are threatened, that we are now living in George Orwells 1984. Not only that but we must take a stand and say no.
I agree these are unprecedented scary times. Yet… it seems to me there is a missing piece to this and this is where the discovery and implementation of life saving insulin comes in.
How did Banting and Best, the two famous men responsible for bringing insulin to the world figure out that insulin was the key? They had to experiment. Once they had the inkling they were on the right track, they injected themselves to see what would happen. The final step was to inject a person living with diabetes who was about to die.
I am here today because of these risky human trials, because of years and years of experimentation and research. This was raw, edgy medical experimentation.
Now here we are in 2021, living on a knifes edge, friend pitted against friend, the world divided. Some of us absolutely convinced that the discovery of a vaccine for Covid is a miracle and others certain it’s a long-term death sentence, the end of life as we know it and NOTHING in between.
But what if this vaccine like insulin, is the start of something truly beautiful. A new beginning, a way forward in science, medicine and technology that’s only just beginning. Maybe this mRna technology are the first signs of a cure for all the genetic incurable diseases we have today. There is a great deal of evidence in credible scientific journals to suggest this.
To my friends freaking out, angry or even just hesitant and on the fence. There are many issues on our plate today. The climate crisis for one.
If we are willing to believe climate scientists, why aren’t we willing to believe our medical scientists? What is the difference? Is one body more co-opted than another? Most friends are terrified of what we are doing to the earth.
Which then begs the question how can a nature loving, non-harming, vegan like me even think of injecting myself with a supposed gene altering vaccine I know nothing about?
Try a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. It changed my perspective about everything. I have learned that sometimes to live a life in harmony with nature I have had to put myself first and trust science.
Life is precious and whatever keeps me living is precious. If that means injecting myself seven times a day with a lifesaving hormone, created in a lab from sequenced human DNA so be it. If it means taking an mRna vaccine so be it. I have way more years left in me to share, support and bring light to this earth
With great respect…