I have been practicing medicine now for 33 years and even now, when I get a call from a scared friend or relative that the patient is sweating, shaking, confused, or unresponsive, I shiver. I know it’s likely hypoglycemia. Patients get agitated, uncooperative, and everyone is a bit different in their responses and some have no response at all; they just go out. The irrationality of it is so frightening. No matter how much I talk about the warning signs, the terror doesn’t become real until someone has hypoglycemia, and a friend or family witness it.
We have sensors, which are great and can alarm when the glucose is dropping, but for example, my own diabetes educator, didn’t hear the alarm; fortunately her husband lying next to her in wee hours of the morning did. We have glucagon kits for a friend or family member to use if the patient is unable to drink juice or take in glucose tablets or glucose gel. Even with all of the preventive measures, hypoglycemia happens because in 2015, our understanding of how to treat diabetes is still pretty primitive.
With diabetes, there is no one simple solution. I work in a hospital that trains internists, surgeons and family practitioners and at least once a year a get a call for me to come see someone in the hospital whose “sugars are out of control,” and I am called to “put them on a pump” as if this was something that could magically take care of their sugars.
How little even the medical profession knows about how complicated diabetes is. Insulin alone doesn’t do the trick. Diabetes treatment needs to have insulin, amylin, glucagon, somatostatin, ghrelin and pancreatic polypeptide all signally each other exactly right to keep glucose levels normal, which among those without diabetes, 96% of glucose levels throughout the day and night are under 120 mg/dL.
You can’t turn on television these days without a commercial for diabetes medication, but none address the key problem with diabetes, whether we talk about type 1 or type 2 diabetes. None talk about how to make new islets and how to correct the problem of too few beta cells making insulin and amylin. None talk of how to correct the alterations of the other islet hormones that result from loss of beta cells.
We at Perle believe we know how to make new islets from your own pancreatic ductal cells—even if you have had type 1 for 20 years or longer. Each time I see a patient with a low, I know, this disease has to go. We aren’t wasting a minute getting regeneration therapy to you with a way to protect those new insulin producing cells. That’s my promise.