The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

For centuries, illnesses have plagued mankind, constantly reminding us of our limitations.

While some may simply admit defeat, others use their conditions as inspiration for bettering society, even to the point of going before Congress to demand change.

One such individual is Kathy White, of Pemberville and wife of Eastwood High School math teacher, Gary White, who has suffered from Type 1 diabetes more than 25 years. Affecting her life physically and emotionally, Mrs. White has made it her goal to help others with diabetes in numerous ways, including raising public awareness of what Type 1 diabetes really entails, fund raising, training special service dogs for diabetics, and even participating in a research study.

Kathy-White
Kathy White, who suffers from Diabetes, is training
her first diabetes alert dog, which will let its owner
know when blood sugar levels drop.

In the United States today, diabetes affects 25.8 million American citizens across the country. Of those 25.8 million 95 percent have Type 2 diabetes and only 5 percent suffer from type 1.

Type 1, also known as juvenile diabetes, affects patients at a young age. Their bodies simply stop producing insulin and therefore they become insulin-dependent, meaning they must inject insulin into their bodies. Scientists have tried to perfect such a dosage in a pill-like form with no success. Therefore, to bypass the stomach, shots or being connected to insulin pumps is necessary as well as numerous blood sugar tests.

“While insulin is the treatment, it’s also the demon because if you get too much insulin, your blood sugar drops to low and the symptoms are very uncomfortable and dangerous. You get very confused…I can’t make a simple decision or choice,” said Mrs. White, “It’s a constant battle everyday.”

Mrs. White’s treatment didn’t stop with insulin injections. Continuous glucose monitors and the drug Symlin became part of daily care, but only produced minimal relief. Even with these treatments, she began to suffer more and more from hypoglycemia unawareness, a symptom of low blood sugar.

“I began to worry that my body would lose the fight sooner rather than later…my problems with diabetes were creeping deeper into my life and even into my job, which required a high level of concentration. Emotionally, I was transitioning from feeling frustrated to being completely discouraged, even hopeless,” she recalled.  Hope, however, finally did arrive.

In the summer of 2007, a clinical trial was held at the University of Minnesota involving islet cell transplants. After applying and checking with doctors to see if she qualified, Mrs. White was chosen as candidate and on July 19, 2008 she received a call to undergo the procedure.

During this procedure, islet cells were extracted from the donor’s pancreas and inserted into her portal vein, which were then carried to her liver. The surgery lasted only 90 minutes, but Mrs. White finally had freedom, freedom that she never had before.

The transplant gave her the ability to participate in many activities she thought she would not able to do without the constant worry of limitations caused by diabetes. “I had the constant worry of my blood sugar dropping, so I had to carry food with me where ever I went.  Since the transplant, I don’t have to worry about that anymore,” she said. 

Unfortunately, after two years, Kathy’s blood sugar levels continually increased, and daily doses of insulin are again necessary, however, the required dosage was far less than she had taken before the procedure. The success of the transplant gave her motivation to reach out to other diabetic suffers.

This, in turn led Mrs. White to become a part of an organization called Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which raises money to try and find the cure for diabetes. She also is training her first diabetes alert dog, which will let their owners know when their blood sugar levels have dropped. She has even convinced Mr. White to train one of these special dogs as well.

Mrs. White recently returned from Washington where she met with senators and representatives to explain the need for funding for experimental research. 

“If there’s one thing I have to say to all the people who suffer from diabetes is don’t give up,” she said. “There is hope!”

The Assistance Dogs of America are in need of foster owners for dogs. Visit www.adai.org for more information.

She also is training her first diabetes alert dog, which will let their owners know when their blood sugar levels have dropped. She has even convinced Mr. White to train one of these special dogs as well.

Mrs. White recently returned from Washington where she met with senators and representatives to explain the need for funding for experimental research. 

“If there’s one thing I have to say to all the people who suffer from diabetes is don’t give up,” she said. “There is hope!”

Kathy White, who suffers from diabetes, is training her first diabetes alert dog, which will let its owner know when blood sugar levels drop.

(Reprinted with permission from The Eagle's Eye, a student publication of Eastwood High School)

 

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