Stefano Ratto has had type 1 diabetes for 12 years. He just competed in the Ironman World Championship.
Finding out he had diabetes on Christmas eve was certainly not the gift he was hoping to receive, but Stefano Ratto has never let his diagnosis define his will to succeed. At 9 years old, this Lima, Peru native had to figure out how to live like a kid again.
“Being told I had to get several shots a day was like telling me to be an outcast,” he said. But after getting used to eating more healthily and learning how many units of insulin to take, Stefano now sees these adjustments as a normal part of his life.
Now, at 21, Stefano just competed in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. “I started doing some resistance tests and I had good results. When I told the people I was diabetic, they didn’t believe me…. When people are surprised that I’m diabetic getting the results I have, it makes me feel proud of myself,” he said.
A snow covered menorah. Photo by: Dominic Alves, Flickr
The foods eaten during Hanukkah celebrations are steeped in symbolism. Hanukkah foods commemorate both the miracle of the temple oil and for many people, Judith’s victory over the Babylonians using only her beauty, guile and a basket of fine cheeses and wine.
This year, the holiday begins on the evening of Wednesday, Nov. 27 and continues through Thursday, Dec. 5 (resulting in the rare co-celebration of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah in America that many have dubbed “Thanksgivukkah“).
Type 1 diabetes is a complicated, complex disease. Conquering this multi-faceted condition requires people working from all angles. At Joslin Diabetes Center, researchers are up to the task.
AUTOIMMUNITY In type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakenly attacks the pancreas. Many research teams at Joslin are working to better understand this complex autoimmune process, including scientists in the Human Immunology Program Project (HIPP).
Last year, we wrote about Kenya Whitehead, a 16-year old with type 1 diabetes who was raising money to go on a six month trek through the northern New England wilderness.
Kenya, now 18, is home from the trip of a lifetime. As part of a 12-person group from Kroka Expeditions, she successfully traversed 600 miles (round-trip) skiing through snowy Vermont, white-water canoeing in Canada, rowboating down to New York, and biking back to basecamp, camping most nights (occasionally in negative 15 degree weather) with minimal amenities all along the way.
Kenya was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 12. “When I was first diagnosed…I was overwhelmed and scared,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d be able to do anything.” Her first reaction was denial, and her numbers were all over the place.
Unlike type 1 diabetes which comes on rapidly and isn’t currently preventable by making lifestyle changes, type 2 diabetes is an insidious disease that develops slowly over time. That gradual onset gives you time to take action. It is not for nothing that they say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The first thing to do is to find out if you are at risk.
The following criteria put you at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding every common disease, and type 2 diabetes is no different. Even patients with diabetes and their family members may be misinformed. Here are eight common myths associated with type 2 diabetes.
The Myth: All patients with type 2 diabetes are overweight
The Truth: Being overweight increases your risk of developing type 2, and 85 percent of people with type 2 in the United States are overweight or obese. But not everyone who is overweight develops type 2; it all depends on genetic predisposition. As they say, “Genetics loads the gun and environment pulls the trigger.” It is possible to develop type 2 diabetes and not be overweight: about 20 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are not overweight. In fact, people of Asian descent develop type 2 at body weights that are considered normal for the rest of the U.S. population. And Asian Americans develop type 2 at much higher rates than the rest of the U.S. population, due to genetic predisposition.
Bill Pittman received his 75-year medal in October
Last month Bill H. Pittman, a retired intellectual property attorney, received his 75-year medal from Joslin Diabetes Center, marking 75 years with type 1 diabetes and without any serious complications. Since his diagnosis at the age of three in Lexington, Kentucky, Bill recognized that having a strong emotional support system is essential to successfully managing his diabetes. Bill credits his mother for not only as serving as his advocate, but also, for teaching him how to take control of his diabetes.
“My mother became such an expert (on my case, anyway) that she told the doctors what to do, rather than the other way around,” recalled Bill. “I have this to thank her for, and much else to object to about her upbringing of me. Also of considerable help have been my second wife of 37 years and one of my graduate school roommates.”
Risk for type 1 diabetes most likely comes from a blend of genetics and environment
Type 1 diabetes can seemingly spring up out of nowhere; leaving many who are diagnosed asking if there was anything they could have done to prevent this. Unfortunately, there currently isn’t any way to safely prevent type 1 diabetes— and there are only a few factors to indicate a higher risk for one person versus another. But a national clinical trial is trying to leverage those factors to help families whose risk might be elevated.
Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5 to 10 percent of the 23 million cases of diabetes in America. Much of the disease remains mysterious, but researchers have determined that type 1 diabetes onset most likely has to do with a blend of genetics and environment.
With National Diabetes Month here, it’s important for us to understand diabetes on a global level. Diabetes has been around for thousands of years, and is continuing to advance throughout the world. Worse than ever, it’s a growing epidemic with a devastating physical, emotional and financial toll on our world. 371 million people in the world have diabetes, and almost half of those people don’t know that they have it.
With the numbers escalating and the education limited, it’s imperative for people to know about diabetes and to know the severity that comes with it. To give you a better idea, take a look at these statistics-
November is looking up. In the Northeast, it is a generally a gray and dreary month, full of cold drizzle and dingy trampled leaves. But forget the weather; November has a lot to recommend it: in addition to a favorite national holiday, Thanksgiving, it is Diabetes Month, a great time to focus on caring for yourself.
Diabetes control takes a lot of effort, and nobody can do it all, but everybody can step it up a notch. Little improvements make a difference no matter where you are in your self-care trajectory. So here are five tips to make November a more exciting month for your diabetes care.