Monday, May 31, 2010

In Memoriam

Today (Monday, May 31, 2010) is Memorial Day, and this day was formally established by Congress to commemorate U.S. soldiers who died while in the military service. While most Americans view this holiday weekend as the unofficial start of summer, we should at least try to respect the intention of this as a national holiday. Some Americans take issue with the claim that Memorial Day is to honor Americans who died "protecting Americans' Freedom" because virtually no military engagement the U.S. has been involved with since World War II was a result of the U.S. being directly attacked, therefore American freedom was arguably not really threatened -- at best, one could claim soldiers in those conflicts died serving American "interests", which is frequently defined more by politics than it is military interests.

But regardless of your personal views on that, taken in a broader context, Memorial Day is a time to reflect on those who have died as the result of military conflict, or merely remembering those who meant something to us personally, whether they served in the military or not.

For my post today, I'd first like to acknowledge two efforts (one of which is no longer operational) designed to acknowledge individuals who have died (either directly, or as is more often the case, indirectly) from diabetes.

One was a site my friend Deb Butterfield operated for nearly a decade, and although in 2005, she decided to discontinue the DiabetesPortal family of web sites, nevertheless, there was a page there that some individuals set up to honor family members that died of diabetes. We should remember that no current diabetes treatments are 100% effective in preventing complications; these treatments are merely the best thing medicine can offer, but they are not now, nor will they ever be as good as a cure. It is important to acknowledge that no matter how diligent we may be, treatments do not eliminate the disease, therefore some people always suffer from complications in spite of receiving state-of-the art treatments for their diabetes. To visit the now archived Insulin-Free World's Memorial Site, please visit here and have a look at some of the memorials established there.

The second site is one that was featured in Diabetes Health magazine (see here for details) back in 1999, and the site is still operational today. Arlene Shapiro created this virtual diabetes memorial back in 1997 which can be found here.

These sites are a sobering reminder that modern insulins and fancy, $7,000 insulin pumps are still only life support. While it's admirable to talk about preventing diabetes, it's a bit too late to stop a diabetes epidemic that's already well underway. Now, the focus needs to shift away from costly ongoing treatments which are bankrupting our healthcare "system" (a term I use very loosely) and shift our focus towards cures.

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