Keith Schwanz

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This article was written on 23 Aug 2017, and is filed under Family.

Wonderfully Made

Notice the red pouch on Oliver’s left hip. His insulin pump is inside.

From outward appearances, Oliver is a typical nine-year-old. He plays hard. He avoids household chores. He laughs at Papa’s jokes (when they are chuckle-worthy).

But inside his body a war is going on. Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks the cells that produce insulin. Since his diagnosis almost seven years ago, he is totally dependent on insulin injections to remain alive since his pancreas has stopped making insulin.

T1D comes with long-term complications that can take years to develop. The less controlled Oliver’s glucose level is today, the more likely he’ll have expanded health issues in the future. Diabetes makes it more likely a person will have heart disease or a stroke. High sugar levels can harm capillaries that feed nerves, especially in the legs. Diabetes can damage the kidneys; severe damage can cause kidney failure. Diabetes can lead to vision problems including damage to the retina and increased risk of cataracts and glaucoma. Diabetes can increase the chance of bacterial and fungal infections. The list is long.

In the weeks following his T1D diagnosis, Oliver had appointments with several doctors. He had his eyes checked, for example, so they will have a baseline with which to compare future exams. The challenge with T1D is that it not only has an impact on life today, but the ramifications for the future are huge. And if that isn’t enough, with one autoimmune disorder like T1D comes the increased risk of other autoimmune disorders kicking in.

The psalmist David wrote, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14). Since Oliver’s T1D diagnosis, I have been keenly aware of the intricate way the various parts of the body interact. It’s quite the fine-tuned system . . . well, until the pancreas turns off the insulin flow.

Team Jolly Ollie will once again join the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) walk to find a cure for T1D. Please click on this link and make a donation. Team Jolly Ollie has set an audacious goal of raising $10,000 in 2017. Right now we’re at $1,225. I invite you to join Team Jolly Ollie and move us closer to reaching our goal. Thanks.

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