Fighting to Stop Diabetes Is Close to My Heart
By Vicki Hannah
By Vicki Hannah
Adam, Eve, and Mom
November is American Diabetes Month. For those of you who know me, you understand why fighting for a cure for diabetes is close to my heart. My son, Adam, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was nine years of age. Having type 1 diabetes increases the risk for many serious complications, including heart disease, blindness, nerve damage, and kidney damage. Adam (now 28 years old) takes daily medication to prevent disease-related complications of diabetes, specifically hypertension and nephropathy. Of the 25.8 million children and adults diagnosed with diabetes in the United States, it is estimated that 5 to 10 percent have type 1. Adam is included in this percentage. Since there is no cure for diabetes, Adam and others like him who have diabetes fight this battle every day of their lives.
From the time of Adam’s diagnosis, I have wanted to do something to “make a difference” in the lives of those diagnosed with diabetes. As an ER nurse of more than 20 years, I saw the effects of this life-altering disease on countless occasions. I returned to graduate school in 2000 with dreams of opening a diabetes clinic and treating diabetics as a family nurse practitioner. I conducted a formal research study while in school and wrote a thesis concerning the need for lifelong diabetes education. Although I never started a diabetes clinic and this dream did not materialize, after graduation I found myself in a unique position as a nurse educator to “make a difference” and since that time I have had many opportunities to impact students regarding the effects of this devastating disease.
Just weeks prior to the first Tuscaloosa Step-Out Walk to Fight Diabetes in 2009, I became involved with the American Diabetes Association. The first year, 161 individuals walked for the cause, many of whom were Shelton State nursing students. I served as the Tuscaloosa Walk Chair in 2010 and 2011 and have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our college and nursing students for this very worthwhile cause. Shelton State has been well represented in the community. Of the 375 registered walkers in 2011, 84 walkers were members of Team Shelton. Shelton State has led the area’s fundraising totals during the past three consecutive years, raising $5,810.50 in 2011.
On any given clinical day, it is not uncommon for multiple students to have a diabetic patient assignment. Diabetes has touched most of our lives in one way or another, and, unfortunately, it will touch more lives every day without intervention to stop this potentially deadly disease. My passion to find a cure is driven by personal and professional causes. I thank God every day for helping me attain a dream of 19 years.