I had an interesting experience last week. I got an email from the JDRF advocacy group asking if I would go to my congressman's office to try to convince him to vote for the Special Diabetes Program that is coming up for renewal soon. The meetings are based on a Promise to Remember Me theme. When I agreed to do this, I thought I was joining a group who was already planning on attending and I would just show up and tell my story. It turned out that the group consisted of me and whoever we could find to join me. That proved to be difficult because it was on a Friday afternoon at 2:30. Most people that I called were either working or had other plans. I never realized before how few Type 1 diabetics I know. And those that I did know were all children of friends. Not a single person of my own generation. Luckily the JDRF people were able to find two other families to go with me. The group included a father and daughter, a mother with her diabetic daughter and a sister, and Gary and me.
The meeting went well. Congressman Latta listened to all of our stories and asked a few questions. The girls both had pumps and continuous monitors and could speak well about those. The mother had calculated how many insulin injections her daughter was spared from taking due to having the pump. I told about my transplant last. Judging by some of the questions he was asking I could tell that Rep. Latta did not know anything about the procedure. So I attempted to give him a reason to reconsider his previous "no" vote on this issue. I explained that my experience is living proof that the money is going to something that has been proven to be fruitful. It would be a shame if the research had to stop now. We are so close to the cure. I had been coached to ask if he would commit to cosponsoring the bill at the end of the meeting. But thankfully the dad beat me to it. Rep. Latta talked all around the issue without giving an answer, so the dad asked again. He still wouldn't commit, so we left without our answer. We did get to take some pictures as we left.
I was asked to follow up this week. I called his DC office and asked to speak to Rep. Latta's health care aide. I left a message on her voicemail, and am waiting to hear back.
I've had a few experiences with the JDRF now, and I am increasingly impressed by what I see. It is a well run institution by very knowledgeable and dedicated people. The main focus is on finding the cure for Type 1 diabetes. My transplant was partly funded by the JDRF. They are into most of the research that I have been watching lately. They just began funding for Living Cell Technologies in New Zealand, which is the group that is using encapsulated pig islet cells for transplantation. They are looking into stem cell transplants as well.
This tree radiates a sweet smell and the sounds of bees.