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Welcome Guest Blogger Will Hall

January 30th, 2013

Ed: While Scott King remains absent on family matters, we’re very pleased to introduce Will Hall, a higher education development officer who has lived with type 1 diabetes for 25 years, and who has volunteered to share his personal experience in occasional guest postings. The Hanuman website and this blog tend to be dominated by science, and sometimes by the politics of diabetes research, but Will’s story reminds us of the ultimate goal of our work: making lives better. Scott will be back online soon with more Islet Sheet news.

I would like to start by acknowledging Scott King and his team for the great work they are doing to find a cure for diabetes—and, more important, by sending good thoughts to Scott’s sister and their entire family during this challenging time.

When Scott asked if I would be interested in guest-writing for The Sheet, I quickly agreed. I’ve thought a lot about how living with diabetes has affected me, and I found The Sheet to be a good source of information. Scott’s belief in his quest is inspiring,   And it doesn’t hurt that his research seems to find success at every level. Over the years, I have been disappointed by the lack of legitimate advances in treating diabetes, but the Islet Sheet has successfully transitioned from theory to practice, and Scott’s blog has allowed me to feel like an insider who gets to come along on this exciting journey.

Now I’m curious about who else reads The Sheet and is intrigued by Scott’s work. Are most of my fellow readers diabetics, relatives or friends of diabetics, researchers, or other people I haven’t even thought of yet? Whoever you are, I hope this post will provide an opportunity to offer comments about your experiences and shed some light on why this research is important to you.

First, a little background. I grew up in a small town about 30 minutes outside Boston. My suburban New England upbringing was fairly typical—I had two hard-working and loving parents, a brother, four dogs (not all at once), a lot of wicked good friends, and a great public school education. I played soccer and tennis, and loved watching the Sox, the Celtics, and especially WWF wrestling. (C’mon—Hulk Hogan, Ricky the Dragon Steamboat, the Iron Sheik, Brutus the Barber Beefcake … who’s with me?) Fun times growing up in the ’80s, for sure.

Then, one evening in January 1987 when I was eleven, I came down with what seemed like a normal virus. I felt worn down and had a bit of a head cold. Not too unusual, or so it seemed. I went to bed early that night but woke up a few hours later, feeling incredibly thirsty. I proceeded to wake up every hour for the rest of the night. Each time, I would pee, then chug a ton of soda or whatever I could find in the fridge, and go back to bed.

In the morning, my dad asked why I had been up so much during the night. I didn’t realize he’d noticed. I told him I was wicked thirsty but kept peeing. Fortunately, my dad is a bright guy and immediately said, “That’s not normal. Let’s pay the doctor a visit.”

A few hours later we were at my pediatrician’s office, who also happened to specialize in juvenile diabetes (as it was then called)—lucky for me, as I discovered later. Mostly it seemed like any other trip to the doc, but things changed when he returned with the results of my bloodwork. He said something to the effect of, “We need to get Will to the hospital. He has diabetes.” I had no idea what diabetes meant, so I wasn’t scared at first. Remember, I was eleven and pondering more important things, like when could I test out my new skateboard or play with my friends? But the next thing I noticed, my dad dropped his head and let out a sigh. Shortly thereafter we were en route to the local hospital.

My memory of that part is a little vague. I do recall being instructed to get into a hospital gown shortly after arriving. That was when my parents saw how much weight I had lost. My already thin frame had taken a serious beating from the diabetes, and my dad later confided that I looked like the pictures of concentration camp victims.

I also recall the nurses working vigorously to insert an IV into my arm, but because I was so thin they weren’t having any luck. As they grew more and more frustrated, my pediatrician luckily showed up and easily inserted the IV. For the rest of the day I endured frequent blood sugar tests, was introduced to insulin, and practiced injections in oranges—my first taste of growing up diabetic.

So went day one of my life with type 1. For the next 25 years I lived as well I could while listening to a lot of people talk about how a cure would be found. But until I learned about Scott’s research, I didn’t have much reason for hope. Now I believe we have legitimate reason for optimism.

Do you remember the day you or your friend or family member was diagnosed?  Please feel free to share your story in a comment. After all, improving the lives of people who suffer from diabetes is what Scott’s life work is all about. And I’m sure that he and his colleagues would enjoy hearing more about people who could be helped by the Islet Sheet. I certainly would.

I have more stories to share, and you’ll be hearing from me again. I’ll also respond to your feedback. If you can, please support Hanuman Medical Foundation, which supports this great research. Thanks, and happy 2013!

Will Hall, San Francisco

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2 Responses to “Welcome Guest Blogger Will Hall”

  1. Scott King says:

    “Through the Mississippi Darkness Rolling Down to the Sea”
    (Steve Goodman, City of New Orleans)

    The summer after college I was getting a little sicker every day. A summer off before I started graduate school. I was sure I had some kind of benign infection. A lot of Co’-coke and got up a lot in the night.

    Jim Scott, a high school buddy I stayed friends with during college, and I, drove from Chicago to Lousiana. About Memphis I remember looking at the fields and the levee and the lazy summer river and feeling like a still Buddha.

    We reached Lake Charles and stayed with Jim’s friend Tony Kushner, touring old Lake Charles and the “new South.” Finally I asked Tony to send me to his doctor. She heard the symptoms and said, “I’ll run a blood sugar to be sure but you have juvenile diabetes.” The BG meter went off scale. I went home to Lexington KY and the University of Kentucky Medical and started learning about insulin and islets.

    Scott King

    PS From the King family home in Sarasota. Sister is recovering from her stroke and getting more movement, but this is not over. Thanks for your good wishes and prayers.

    This should be a good year for Islet Sheet. We have collated and analyzed the pig results. We think we understand why the living islets are not reaching their metabolic potential. Our advisors think we should move to some other models. I look forward to filling you all in on our plans.

    Look for a funding related announcement soon!

  2. Will Hall says:

    Scott,

    Thanks so much for sharing your personal experience. The retelling of your journey south – …”drove from Chicago to Lousiana. About Memphis I remember looking at the fields and the levee and the lazy summer river and feeling like a still Buddha.” – makes me think you took a writing class with Martin Luther King, Jr and Barack Obama. Your words do a great job of painting the picture. I only wish you were feeling better, so you could truly embrace those splendid sights.

    What great news about the Islet Sheet and pig results. I’m sure I can speak for all your readers when I say that we are anxiously anticipating your next report. Keep up the good work!

    Will Hall

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