A Grandfather’s Musings

Written by Bob Pearson, February, 2017

 

One of my first responsibilities many years ago, as a young medical products sales representative, was to travel across Canada introducing to physicians and hospitals a revolutionary new product for people with diabetes. This was a pre-sterilized, single-use disposable insulin syringe with an extremely sharp needle.

Since the convenience and advantages of an almost pain-free injection were evident, particularly when compared to glass syringes and dull steel-hubbed needles utilized at that time that required sterilization and were reused many times over, this new product was soon adopted as a staple for physicians and their patients.

I have often thought how ironic it is that one of my granddaughters, at the age of nine, would be diagnosed with Type I diabetes and be required to utilize the very same products that were so important and vital to my company and contributed so significantly to my own personal business success. My obvious focus as a representative then, and later in management, was solely on promoting, selling and growing the market for diabetic supplies and equipment.

Quite frankly, I never put much thought or envisioned at that time, that Type I diabetes would ever affect the immediate members of my family. Well of course I was sadly mistaken, for as many of us know, diabetes can suddenly strike any family, and unfortunately it often does. The initial shock to our large extended family was absolute and profound to say the least.

Almost from day one of the diagnosis, Ali soon exhibited far beyond her years, the fierce determination and courage to absorb, meet and accept the considerable challenges that were carefully outlined and explained by her parents.

I have subsequently, and with immense pride as a grandparent, observed the many and varied accomplishments and progress throughout Ali’s elementary, high school, university and medical school years. Her various achievements during these busy years were considerable. Not only did Ali excel academically, but she participated fully in a wide variety of athletic endeavours and at a very high-skill, competitive level.

However, the stark reality of her life is often more difficult than it appears. Constant finger-poking, checking and rechecking her blood sugar levels to monitor, maintain and control her diabetes is absolutely essential. Insulin reactions can and do occur frequently and I have seen firsthand the aftermath.

Keeping Ali’s readings in check requires considerable awareness on her part at all times. Planning her daily regimen always necessitates careful and studied vigilance as to her snacks, meals, work, social and physical activities. Traveling, particularly internationally, which Ali has done extensively, also requires even more flexibility, organization and very close attention to detail when visiting some areas. Many countries, unfortunately, due to inadequate governmental health and financial budgets, are unable or unwilling to place the necessary awareness and importance on supporting the health needs of diabetics.

It is very hard to believe that so many years have now passed since Ali was first diagnosed. Living with Type I diabetes is incredibly difficult. The accompanying health ramifications and complexities are significant and usually lasting. Diabetes, through its very nature, is an unrelenting and unforgiving disease and is even more so for the Type I variety.

Confronting it head on requires, as noted, drastic changes to an individual’s lifestyle. Comply fully with these changes without a question or face a very uncertain destiny is always a very visible and firm personal health standard and one that cannot or should not be easily ignored.

The restrictions that confront all Type I diabetics in their daily routine present obstacles that all of us without diabetes take for granted.

Today, through continuing research and with the support of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the insulin pump has, in many geographical areas, largely replaced the necessity of having to endure multiple daily injections by syringe and needle and has provided much more flexibility and control for those with Type I diabetes. Research, including that funded by JDRF, continues to progress and improve the lives of diabetics.

Looking back, I am somewhat comforted by the fact that the introduction of those sharp, almost pain-free needles so many years ago, helped Ali in a very small measure during her initial young injection months before the advent of the insulin pump.

This year, the Bagg Family has reached its 20th anniversary of local fundraising on behalf of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The events listed in this booklet have been diverse over the years, with the Annual Spring Fling Dine & Dance and the Women’s Cuisine for a Cure acting as the cornerstone of their fundraising activities.

Incredibly, through Bagg Family events, over $745,000 has been raised locally from the always generous Kingston and area individual and business community. With this local support, everything was accomplished through a ‘home kitchen table’ fundraising effort. This remarkable achievement has consistently placed the Bagg family at or near the top in Canada for family-oriented local fundraising. Ali and the millions like her rely on the continued support of those in attendance tonight. Our extended family, as always, is deeply appreciative of your past and current support of JDRF. We hope you have a wonderful experience this evening, together with your family members and friends, old and new.

Lastly, and on a personal note as a proud grandfather, I have kept a photo of a nine year-old little girl glued to my wallet for the past 20 years. She is my daily inspiration and always will be. Thank you Ali!

Love, Grandpa

*****