Martin and I met early last week. We spent a day on Capitol Hill meeting with various representative offices as part of Diabetes Patient Advocacy Coalition DPAC, addressing issues/legislation pertaining to diabetes.
Between meetings, we talked about the clinical trial I’ve been in and devices I’m using.
Martin has lived with T1D for 66 years which is by all accounts, especially Senator Markey’s office, quite amazing, especially considering how crude treatments were when he was diagnosed.
In one of our meetings, Martin spoke about having been one of the clinical trial participants of laser treatments for diabetic retinopathy in the 1970s (‘74). I felt a lump in my throat.
I spent many years feeling ashamed of my own diabetes complications (I didn’t do a “good enough” job). I was just starting my career in design, a visual field, in the wonder of New York City. The diagnosis was terrifying. A brilliant doctor gave me 2 treatment options. I chose a new technique involving very aggressive laser therapy. Many rounds and a few years later, my eyes stabilized.
Now, I get to give research updates and motivational talks for JDRF and I am asked to speak at medical schools about T1D. In this roll, I show photos of the inside of my eye. I explain the laser scars and how my eyes compensate. I encourage (beg) people to get involved in clinical trials, and how I do them for ONE specific reason. I do them to pay-it-forward. I say how I will never get to meet the people who tested retinopathy laser treatments. Some of the first participants went blind immediately. I NEVER say what I was once told, that I would never meet these “testers” because they had died already.
On Tuesday, I learned my talks will have to change a bit. Not only did I meet one of the trial participants whose actions have given me the gift of sight, but I finally got to say, “thank you”. I tried to explain this to New Friend Martin, but I couldn’t get the words out, so outside a Senator’s office, we stood there hugging and crying.
On World Diabetes Day and everyday, Martin, I thank you, again and again, I thank you.