Why die with diabetes?

Why should I have to live with diabetes?

That wasn’t the first question I asked when my doctor diagnosed that I had Type 1 diabetes. No, that was, ‘is there a cure?’

When he said, ‘no, you’ll have to live with it,’ that’s when I hit him with the second question.

I tuned out his answer when I realised it was a standard patter he gave every one of his customers, all those people before and now and to come who would guarantee the quality of his lifestyle on the strength (or should it be, weakness) of their illness.

People with type 2 diabetes are prescribed exercise, diet and medicine. The medicine, nine times out of ten, will be metformin or Glucophage, to give it its branded identity.

Diabetes, we are told, is a killer disease. Isn’t it ironic then that same drug on whom an increasing number of people around the world are dependent, is now being considered as a possible link to the secret of life and the end of death?

In Ireland, diabetes is considered a ‘long term illness’, i.e. no cure in sight and most likely, not even in contemplation. All my diabetes related medicines are free. Or, in other words, paid for by the State, the taxpayer. For 37 years, the first thing I do when I wake up is test my blood sugar level. Then I jab myself with two needles, a process I repeat at least three times a day.

If you had a free pass to a bottomless ATM, would you give it up? Diabetes is the access code to that ATM as the pharmaceutical industry found out a long time ago.

But now in this age of intelligent machines and the growing desire among some people to tackle the biggest disease of all – death.

The Longevity Fund is an American think tank and research facility dedicated to the death of death. There are pharmaceutical companies and medical research facilities trying to find cures for cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s but why, the Longevity Fund might argue, don’t they seek to halt the degeneration of human cells and take death off the agenda, entirely?

Most of the time, if you read the promotional material, death doesn’t even get a mention. They prefer to spin it more positively and call it the extension of life. Laura Deming, a New Zealand born MIT alumni who now leads research at the Longevity Fund, prefers to use the phrase ‘reversing the ageing process.’

That’s where metformin comes in. It prevents the excess release of sugars  into the bloodstream and slows, as a result, the turnover of cells. According to worldhealth.net, Metformin may promote anti-ageing,

To analyze the advantage outside treatment of diabetes, the Food and Drug Administration has green-lighted a clinical trial in the U.S. for what has become known as the Targeting Aging with Metformin (TAME) study. The researchers will give Metformin to about 3,000 elderly people, who either suffer from or have a high risk of developing diseases like cancer, heart disease, or cognitive problems. They’ll then track them over six years to see if the drug prevents aging-related diseases that were not pre-exsisting. They’ll also be looking to see if it prevents diabetes and lengthens their life spans. It will be a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

So maybe my question should’ve been, why do I have to die with diabetes?