Around Thanksgiving last year, we got a call I convinced myself would never come. Because my hubby is a Type 1 Diabetic, we put our kids in a study called Trial Net. Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease, which basically means your immune system attacks you instead of viruses or bacteria. Trial Net tests periodically for a few types of auto-antibodies.
Up to this point, neither of our kids has tested positive for any diabetes related antibodies. But in November, Girl Q did. It seems silly, in some ways, to be so devastated and overwhelmed by something so vague, something so uncertain.
But I was.
The shadow of diabetes has always lingered in the back of my mind–it’s not something I want for my kids. On the other hand, I’m married to a wonderful, capable diabetic who really tries not to let diabetes run the show. I know that it’s doesn’t have to be a death sentence. I know that even if Girl Q does develop diabetes, we’ll all do the best we can.
The researcher said Girl Q is positive for only two antibodies, out of a possible five that they are able to test for right now. Even the positives were very low, she said. Even if she was positive, she still might not develop diabetes.
I asked if there was anything I could do. Anything at all. She said that fish oil (you know, the omegas) was the only proven supplement to reduce the autoimmune, inflammatory process. I asked about Selenium (which reduces autoimmune activity in adults), she didn’t know if that would help. I asked about wheat and milk. Even though there have been studies and numerous questions about the role of nutrition and the development of autoimmunity, they’re basically inconclusive.
I know the facts. I know that even though we’ll do everything we can, she might still develop diabetes. But I also know that I’ll regret it if I don’t try, at least a little. I don’t want to get to that moment and wonder if she has diabetes because I didn’t at least try the fish oil thing or cut milk, or excess sugar out of her diet.
The researcher said it was up to us what to do from here on out. We could either enroll her in the next phase of the study or we could keep on testing her for auto-antibodies and see if the numbers go up or down. The “next phase” involves sitting her down for HOURS, making her drink the pregnant-lady super-concentrated sugar drink (it’s full of dyes and chemicals, thanks FDA!), and then see how her pancreas can handle it. In other words, to see if she’s still making enough insulin to handle the sugar load.
Yeah….no. We’ve been testing her blood periodically at home and I am happy to say that so far, it’s totally normal. I hope it doesn’t screw her up too much, having Dad checking her blood every now and then. I hope she knows everyone has a different “normal“.
For those people who test positive for auto-antibodies, lots of them develop diabetes within a matter of years; for some it’s five years and for others it’s 20. The more auto-antibodies you have, the sooner it’s likely to be. “Lots of them.” But not all.