A Letter from Dr. Emily
Hi! My name is Dr. Emily Kennedy. That is my professional name, although legally it is Emily Kennedy Marlow. I know some of you very well, and others not as much. I am friendly, so please don’t be afraid of saying hello when you see me!
I have had Type 1 Diabetes for 28 years. I was diagnosed at the end of May in 1990 here at the University of Michigan when I was 4 years old. It is a very challenging disease that affects almost every aspect of my day, between work, food, exercise, leisure, etc. There are good days where everything goes as planned, and there are terrible horrible no good very bad days where my body doesn’t do what it is supposed to. I have excellent physicians and the best health care possible, so I have every advantage, mostly because of all the amazing choices my parents helped me make as a young child. My uncle was also diagnosed with this disease at age 4, and he has since passed away from complications of diabetes. We miss him dearly, and want to raise money so that more people have tools to manage this, and one day soon, find a cure.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) was founded 47 years ago with the mission to accelerate life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent, and treat T1D and its complications. Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is the new name for Juvenile Diabetes. Not everyone with the disease is diagnosed as a ‘juvenile,’ so the name was changed formally. T1D is a disease where the diabetic patient lacks hormones that allow it to convert sugar or carbohydrates into energy. If sugar is not converted to energy, it sits in the blood and moves around the body. The body needs the amount of sugar in the blood to be only a certain amount, or else all the blood vessels get confused and swell with water to try to dilute the excess sugar. Diabetic patients take those hormones (insulin, and occasionally glucagon) at different times during the day through shots or pumps that are attached to the skin at all times. Every time I eat, I have to measure what I eat, calculate the amount of insulin I need, check my currant blood sugar level, and then give the right amount of insulin. I cannot eat more or less than what I accounted for without consequences. Sometimes equipment will malfunction and I will get sick, or my body will be silly and not react to the insulin how it is supposed to. When this happens, I feel exhausted, irritable, discouraged, nauseous, thirsty, sweaty, and just sick. I don’t call in sick, because I’ve learned how to function while not feeling well. I’ve always been embarrassed that people will think I’m “faking it,” so unfortunately I don’t always ask for help when I really might need it.
Many patients are not as lucky as I. They didn’t have parents who cared so, so much, or doctors that were nearby, or excellent health insurance, or access to care. I consider myself luckiest first, and proud of my efforts second. Mostly, I find myself filled with more gratitude for what I have been blessed with than you could imagine.
For those patients who aren’t as lucky as I, they can have issues with all of the parts of the body that have blood! aka all of them!! The eyes, toes, heart and kidneys can all fail over time with poor management of diabetes.
Fortunately, my diabetic doctor has said that he doesn’t think my life will ever really be negatively affected by those complications, and that June (my newborn daughter) will probably never have the disease, either.
I am here to ask for your help as we fight a very very good fight to help others get educated, get motivated, get access to care, and make care more diverse and awesome so that other 4 year olds or 75 year olds never have to fear blindness or heart disease from this horrible disease. My mom and dad started the Ann Arbor branch of this JDRF Walkathon 25 years ago to help with these efforts, and I am here to ask all of you to help me improve the lives of others with this disease and the doctors who care for them.
No one can control whether or not they will ever get this disease, but we can control our efforts to care for those in need.
Thank you for reading!! Don’t EVER hesitate to ask questions to me about it. I care deeply about this, and am thrilled that you guys do, too!!
You are warmly invited to join the Ann Arbor Smiles Walk team on September 23rd at beautiful Hudson Mills in Dexter for the JDRF One Walk, a great family event! We also welcome donations to our team which will support JDRF research to cure diabetes! Click on the link to find our home page to register or donate. Help us reach our goal of $2500. An awesome custom designed Ann Arbor Smiles team t-shirt will be given to all registered team members.
Help us turn Type 1 into Type NONE!
All my gratitude,
Dr. Emily 🙂