What

an incredible feeling to be sitting in a lecture hall packed with several

hundred people who are ALL diabetic -— save for a few poor non-effected

souls. I learned so much at UC San

Francisco's Diabetes Patient Symposium this weekend (!), I could blog about the

Innovation 2015

content of this event alone for weeks! For now, I will try to give an

overview of the biggest "wow's" and take-aways.

As

a preface: Nick asks me what a symposium is, and whether it's helpful for diabetics. I would say: If you have a university or

advanced diabetes center anywhere in your state, Get Thee to a Seminar. Diabeteseyes Definitely one of the MOST HELPFUL things you can do for yourself. The

one I attended this weekend was a half-day event with expert speakers covering

everything from how pancreas and islet transplantation actually works (and for

whom), to what EXACTLY is going on in stem cell research for diabetes now, to the

psychological obstacles to good self-care, i.e. diabetes burnout.

  • The real-live author of the book by same title was actually one of the speakers! Dr. William Polonsky, who is hugely entertaining, discussed the Personal, Social, and Behavioral side of diabetes, with a plug for his new non-profit group, Behavioral Diabetes Institute -— which seems to have enormous potential to help people get over the fear, self-pity, and other negative emotions that stifle so many of us diabetics. Keep in mind how revolutionary it is that an "academic" conference on diabetes now embraces the "touchy-feely" side of diabetes in this way! Showsthat there is now widespread recognition of the struggle in our heads. Amen.
  • I finally understand what all the "pre-diabetes" fuss is about! In fact, they put my mother on Metformin recently after her fasting BG showed up at 117. I thought that was excessive and maybe a little dangerous. But it turns out that more "aggressive intervention" is yielding impressive results. While consistent adherence (key words!) to an improved diet and exercise regime reduces the likelihood of becoming Type 2 by 50%, apparently taking Metformin adds an additional 30% likelihood of remaining non-diabetic. You go, Mom!
  • Learned a WHOLE LOT about the new drugs Pramlintide (aka Symlin) and Exenatide. Dr. Umesh Masharani of UCSF's world-class Diabetes Center explained that replacing the amylin hormone in diabetics -- which is missing, but traditionally believed to be expendable -- is essentially experimental. So who can benefit? Dr. Masharani says that Symlin is really only appropriate for a short list of particular patients who are unable to achieve sufficient control even with the most meticulous insulin therapy, but adds: "If a patient really wants to try it, why not?"Exenatide, derived from lizard saliva (for real!) seems to protect existing islet cells and may even help produce more in Type 2 diabetics, so definitely the more exciting of the two!
  • What kicks in Type 1 diabetes? Is it inherited? What we know is that it is a combination of agenetic predisposition plus "environmental factors" (dietary, stress, or virus-induced -— more on that soon). But can it be stopped? UCSF's Type 1 Diabetes TrialNet is the most extensive clinical trial research program ever testing the efficacy of preventative methods. This study involves screening first degree relatives for ICA+ (an antibodytest assessing likelihood of developing diabetes), and then"intervening" at different levels according to the individuals'risk. If you happen to live in the Bay Area and are interested inparticipating, click here.

* And finally, for those of you wondering about the

Teddy Bear/Sleepover party... there's an expression in German for someone who

can't "get it together": "(s)he couldn't organize a kids' birthday party!" Obviously, whoever coined that one never had

children. Any minor break in the non-stop entertainment program means a

gaggle of screaming banshees

traversing the stairs at lightening speed!! Teeth-numbing shrieks, I tell

you! At least we had a respite between

ca. 11pm and 6am.

And the birthday girls were BLISSFUL. So

absolutely worth it, yes. Next

year? Don't start with me!!

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.

Disclaimer

This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.