If it was the year 1921 today, I wouldn’t be able to get up out of bed this morning. I wouldn’t be able to fight the urge to shut my eyes again. I wouldn’t be able to eat breakfast and drink my coffee. I wouldn’t be able to drive to work. I wouldn’t be able to talk, smile and laugh as I go about my day. I wouldn’t have been able enjoy that chocolate cannoli I had earlier. I wouldn’t be able to crash on the couch at the end of the day with a good TV show. I wouldn’t be able to write this blog post. In fact this blog wouldn’t even exist, because I would have been long gone after my diagnosis with type 1 diabetes nine years ago (and because, well, computers and the internet weren’t around back then either, but you get my drift…)
But thanks to Dr Frederick Banting and his assistant Charles Best, I have a chance. A very good chance, in fact, of a living a long and healthy life with diabetes. On this day back in 1921 and against all odds, Banting and Best first isolated insulin to treat type 1 diabetes.
Dr Banting didn’t let his lack of diabetes knowledge stop him from delivering a lecture on the topic. He didn’t stop himself from developing an interest in diabetes and fuelling his theories. He didn’t let his status as an unknown surgeon stop him from convincing the University of Toronto to give him a small laboratory to put his theories to the test.
Against all odds, Dr Banting managed to achieve the impossible. And if he was able to find a treatment for a disease that was a death sentence, then I think I am capable of achieving just about anything I put my mind to.
I know I often spend a lot of time whinging about diabetes. About all of the ups and downs and highs and lows and crazy emotions in-between. About all of the things that aren’t perfect and the potential in the world to make living with diabetes so much better. But when I think about what the alternative would have been back in 1921, I don’t think I have anything to be complaining about.
When I was lying in the emergency room nine years ago, fazed by ketoacidosis, there were two phrases that I can remember the doctor telling my worried parents. The first was diabetes. And the second was something along the lines of me being able to live a normal life.
Thanks to Banting and Best, that’s exactly what I’m able to do with type 1 diabetes each and every day.