If you lived here, you’d be cured by now
Is it just me, or have you seen a dramatic uptick in the amount of mice being “cured” of Type 1 diabetes lately? It makes a PWD wonder, would I be better off if I were a mouse with diabetes? (also known as an MWD.) Sometimes we wonder why the outlook for an MWD is so promising, while PWD’s have grown to expect disappointment and unfulfilled promises on the cure-front every five years.
These mice get all the perks. They get the latest cures, they get all the cheese they can eat, and in Jerry’s case, candy-canes that are twice his size. Of course, mice also have to constantly deal with predators. Do you think Itchy has even five seconds to check his blood glucose levels before delicately carving Scratchy with a chainsaw? Not bloody likely. Would Jerry have ever escaped Tom’s relentless pursuit if he was carrying an insulin pump? Doubtful. Can you imagine Little Bunny Foo-foo scooping up hypoglycemic field-mice and bopping them on the head? It brings callousness to a whole new level.
The truth is, the life of an MWD isn’t all that glamorous. Many of these mice weren’t destined to get diabetes, some researchers just found a way to force it upon them anyway (I don’t know how they did it — but I’m sure they weren’t force-fed cotton candy and Mountain Dew. That myth has been debunked long ago). The story reads like that of an arsonist who sets fire to a building so he can heroically rescue its tenants. Once the researcher giveth diabetes, he taketh away. It’s kind of… phoney.
Of course, being an MWD is hard work. He has bloodwork drawn almost daily, and never get to learn the results. He is forced to run in a wheel to the point of exhaustion (meanwhile, I can – and do – choose to never step foot on that treadmill in the basement). He is held to a strict low-carb diet of cheese, and when given an “experimental” treat of cheese-cake, nobody cares to ask how it makes him feel.
An MWD wears a CGM is like a backpack, with a sensor practically reaching its heart. He rarely catch a glimpse of its readings, and when he does, he’s unable to Instagram it to other MWDs. Unlike you or me, the phrase “a number does not define you” doesn’t apply to the MWD. He’s not known as Jerry, Itchy, Mighty, or Mickey, he’s specimen #362908.
Yes, eventually the MWD gets rewarded with some stem cells, some encapsulated islets, or a hefty dose of BCG, and he then can make his own insulin again. But he still eats a low-carb cheese diet, still gets poked and probed by scientists, and despite all his rage – he is still just a rat in a cage (in a lab). Eventually, when the scientists are sufficiently convinced that the mouse is “cured”, he’s probably cut open and studied some more. The mouse lives when he’s got diabetes, and when he doesn’t have it anymore, he’s rendered useless. How sad is that?
I do skim the headlines pertaining to mice being cured, but never really get into the articles. There’s no point in being envious of the mouse. His life after the cure isn’t much different than life before a cure. And to be honest, I’d rather be a person who still has diabetes than a mouse who’s been cured of it. Wouldn’t you?
One day, maybe I’ll be able to compare my life “after” with my life “before”. But for now, I’m content living the life that I know, in the way that I know it. I know exactly what my body can and cannot do. It can’t make insulin, can’t see things that are far away without corrective lenses, and it can’t sing, but it can do pretty much everything else that most any other body can do. To take the first of those deficiencies away at the expense of adding unknown others is not a risk I’m willing to take.
For now, I’ll let the little rodents be the guinea pigs. When they’re ready for me, and only then, will I disconnect my pump and take my permanent correction.
* * *
Thanks to the talented Kim Vlasnik: blogger at Texting My Pancreas, founder of the You Can Do This Project, and artist extraordinaire, for granting me permission to use her image shown above. Of all her artwork, it’s my all-time favorite. Thanks Kim!