silhouette of a head with a big question mark

It's been an important part of my life to develop a sense of Diabetic Identity in order to sort out where my individual personality stands apart from my Diabetes.
I think it's necessary to have a core belief in one's self and a purposeful direction in life to offset the endless compromises and tradeoffs that living with this condition too often demands.

Living with, and dealing with Diabetes, is like wearing what we as kid's called "Chinese handcuffs" (with no intended offense to anyone Chinese) sold as toys in five and dime (now dollar) stores. What you did was stick two fingers in each end of a woven straw tube, if you pulled each finger out of the opposite end at the same time the weave in the straw would just tighten that much more around each finger. The harder you pulled the tighter it got.

Life with Diabetes is like this because more normal a life you have, the less people see you as someone with Diabetes even as the more you make Diabetes an issue in your life, the less of a normal life you have.

The trap is, that Diabetes is not some form of lifestyle choice, living with it presents is a difficult and serious challenge for those of us who have it. Since it's invisible to the "normal world", few people understand its complexity, our need for access to affordable medical treatment and the urgency we face in finding a cure.

For me one of the great frustrations of dealing with the reality that an important part of your life goes unnoticed or unappreciated, even as you are fighting alone to keep it from getting in the way of who you want to be, or what you want to do with your life.

I'm sure, that short of a cure, what everyone who deals with this condition wants is for everyone to know what Diabetes is, and what it's like to live with it. And I don't mean how BAD living with it is, just just an understanding of the reality of our lives.

  THE ZEN APPROACH TO DIABETESFloating figure lightly drawn in meditation pose.
For me, the Zen approach to Diabetes is to take it's constant state of flux and uncertainty,and turn it around by do this by reaching a state of detachment. Viewed objectively, each situation, no matter how negative holds the possibility of an open door of opportunity for self-knowledge, inner strength, and growth.

This site has an entire section devoted to what Juvenile Diabetes is but if I could define it in a short form it is:

A condition that results in too much sugar in the blood, too much sugar in the blood is dangerous, insulin brought into the body through an injection or external pump will bring the sugar levels down. Too much insulin is dangerous. Almost everything has an effect on blood sugar levels especially food and physical activity, too high of blood sugar levels over a period of time may cause complications such as blindness, heart, kidney, or nerve disease.

I've had Juvenile Diabetes for over thirty years and for most of my life have never felt how it was represented in the media, ever matched it's impact my life.

After discovering discussion groups on the Internet also found that I was not alone.

It seemed whenever our reality was represented in by Diabetic organizations or their publications it was always by carefree individuals who never seem truly affected by it.

If the only thing that counted in life is doing what you are supposed to do, and if by doing everything just right your Diabetes were to be into perfect control, and because of this you could forestall it's complications, then living with Diabetes would be easy. This is how life with Diabetes has always been presented to me, and it's what I think of now, as Diabetes "in a perfect world".

This is the same perfect world where the sun always shines, the good guys always win, and every child can grow up become president of the United States.

There are many people who feel Diabetes is a minor issue in their lives, this is not a "one size fits all" kind of condition. I think however that the majority of those who live with it, know all too well about complexity and frustration of life with Diabetes in the real world.

(Image) a girl taking an injection while a hand holding an airbrush causing her to disappear.
Things would be so simple if what we need to do to live healthy lives were understood, accepted, and supported by society. Rather than as something hidden, ignored, or edited out or everyday reality.

Too often, even when we are doing everything just right, we can find by checking our blood sugar levels that we are too high or low, or we can make adjustments in our lives that may work for a while and then mysteriously, change. There are so many conflicts we face between taking care of our health, and working to pay the bills, having good in personal relationships, or trying to find purpose, fulfillment, or happiness. It can be so frustrating, but I think one of the most difficult problems having this condition is that few people understand it or what we have to deal with.

Each of us who live with this have to endure attention given by the media to an entire spectrum of issues and conditions, from AIDS to human cloning. Since most people only know of Diabetes "in a perfect world" it's pretty much how our lives, struggles and triumphs over it, is defined.

I know from knowing others with this condition and there is many people who want the world to understand what it is that we go through and what living with this condition is all about. This especially affects me since I'm an artist and I feel that it's my obligation to try to make people understand what Juvenile Diabetes is and what it
means to live with it.

That's why I decided to make a web-site. Since each persons mileage on this condition varies so greatly, I'm not attempting to make a definitive statement on what Juvenile Diabetes is, but rather, I'm trying to broaden interest in the depth, complexity and richness of life with this, in a passionate and creative manner

Is there any way I can get help paying for my mediacal insurance or bills? Are you disabled? No, but I'll lose my sight if I can't afford to take care of my diabetes. Great! come back after your blind and we'll give you all the help we can!
Since this site is all about my take on Diabetes, I'd love to put my name on it, but that could be a problem however, since I need to find a job, and with out a job I can never get affordable health insurance, and without health coverage I could loose my sight.
That's just the way things are when you have health condition in America today.

The the thing was that, when I started this project, I didn't have a clue of what I could create that hadn't been done before on other sites, other than the ability to create original graphics rather than using clip art.
Once I started working on the site, I realized that I was dealing with a subject with powerful and emotional connections especially regarding my own life.

After all the whole aspect for this site using comic book artwork came from my use of imagination as a way to deal with my
diabetes when I was a kid. I got into comics in a big way not as a form of compensation for having a medical condition, as in "if I only had superpowers then I wouldn't be teased or bullied in school" sort of thing. It was more of seeing my Diabetic life as a form of alter-ego as in someone who has a secondary intense and dangerous identity that other people weren't aware of.

For me, the invisible world of Diabetes, is much like the invisible world of the artist, a kind of deep well and spiritual source that has influenced the direction of my life. Even as a kid, at an age where I was completely overwhelmed by my condition and when I felt as though everything I did was wrong, I could still create out of nowhere a fantastic drawing, and look at it in amazement, wondering "how can someone as messed up as me make something that looks this great"?

figure looking at a statement "you could loose ten to fourty years to diabetes"
So I sat down and did a series of sketches of how I saw my life with Diabetes.
What I wound up with was a collection of very tough but honest works that started me on a journey about looking much deeper into my life with this condition. There have been periods of years where I honestly didn't ever think that having Diabetes had any influence on my life whatsoever. The more I examined my past however, I began to see how especially at crucial times, created the dynamic, and often self-destructive patterns such as isolation, independence, creativity, or depression that my life, inevitably fell into.

I also started to show the first signs of developing what I had dreaded and severe complications that come from years of having this condition. I began to face the real possibility that I may loose my sight.
Growing up with this I always imagined my life would meet either of two extremes: one was that I would die young, or the other, though I felt less likely, that I would be cured.

Even though there had been talk of a cure, in the form of an artificial pancreas ever since I was in grade school, it's estimated availability was always set for "about five years" until the "five years" phrase became associated in Diabetic circles as cynical symbol of false optimism

Then even as I was laying out my site there seemed to be the new possibility for a cure.

Hand holding a sword with DNA helix, bursting through water, as the Aurtherian legend of the lady of the lake.
The promise of genetic engineering as bold new weapon and a renewed hope for a cure.

A New Hope

In the year 2000, Dr. James Shapiro and a team of transplant surgeons at the University of Alberta in Edmonton transplanted islets cells necessary for the production of insulin, into 10 people with Type 1 Diabetes. The success rate was 100% and differed from other attempts at transplantation (which were often not successful and usually done in conjunction with the need for a kidney transplant) in that only the small islets cells, and not the entire pancreas that was used. These small cells were injected into the recipients liver and soon began to secrete insulin. The procedure became known as the "Edmonton Protocol" the blood sugar levels of all the transplant recipients stabilized, and other than the need to take a cocktail of "immune suppressant" drugs procedure seemed to be the long sought after "cure" for Juvenile Diabetes.

There was only one problem, and that was that it took nearly two pancreases worth of donor islets cell for each cured each patient. The cells where provided by after death organ donations and there would never be enough donations available to cure the millions of diabetics around the world.

There seemed at the time one solution for this need for islet replacement cells and that was from transplantation from pigs. Insulin taken by Juvenile Diabetics for many years came from pigs, it varied from human insulin by three molecules. The only reason pigs have not currently been used for transplantation is the perceived threat of a jump across species of viruses from pigs to humans, even though this has never been proven.

Currently the insulin available in the United States and much of the world comes from the cloning human insulin molecules. A perfect solution for the need for an unlimited supply of islet cells, to transplant and "cure" the millions of Diabetics who needed them was a source of cloned islet cells.

Since islet cells are more complex than insulin molecules the question was how can science "make" these highly specialized cells.

The answer came in the discovery of stem cells.

These cells can develop into the basic types of body cells such as nerves, muscles, tissue and eventually even whole organs or limbs although science is many years from doing anything of that nature. Since the islet cell needed to transplant into Diabetics are fairly simple It's likely that the creation of a line of stem cell could result in an unlimited supply of human islet cells, enough to cure all the people in the world of Diabetes.

To my astonishment the possibility that those of us who have Diabetes could be cured by transplanting animal, or cloned islet cells, from stem cell sources was considered "controversial" by the media.

The "debate" over this new science pitted "moralist" who often felt science was moving too rapidly and needed to be mulled over by self appointed "bio-ethists". I felt outraged, living in a society that had too often swept the lives of us with this condition under the carpet, in a policy of "out of sight, of mind", did nothing about the discrimination by insurance companies, by charging people unaffordable rates to people with chronic conditions such as Diabetes, used "mortality" as a reason for not pursuing such hopeful possibilities for a cure.

I think what struck hardest was the attitude that this form of a cure, was worse than the disease itself.

If only people knew the truth about what Diabetes was, and what I means to live your life with it, so for better or worse, the direction of my site began to take one of showing just how serious and tragic life with Juvenile Diabetes is, in order to draw attention to the real need for a cure.