The Protection Genes?

eye doc

I had my diabetic eye exam yesterday.

Nearly 34 years of type 1 diabetes and the doctor said he couldn’t see any sign of diabetes. Not a thing. Whew… I’d been given news of another year (actually two years since my last visit) without a complication from diabetes.

I felt relieved, but it was mixed with what my friend Scott Strange calls Survivor’s Guilt. Why have I managed to avoid complications even though my blood sugars and A1C’s aren’t always great (who’s are)? Why do others with a long history of BG’s much better than mine struggle terribly with complications?

It doesn’t make sense other than to demonstrate that there are many things about diabetes that aren’t understood.

My doctor talked about this during my appointment. He described doing research at the University of Minnesota where they saw many of the same things that studies such as the DCCT later proved, but that there seemed to be something more as well. He said that some people with diabetes seem to have some sort of genetic protection against complications (up to a point) that even today, many years later, they haven’t been able to figure out.

He told the story of recruiting a stubborn old guy into a research study back in the late 1980’s. This guy was in his mid-seventies and had lived with type 1 diabetes for over fifty years. Not a sign of diabetes related eye complications to be found. So my doctor asked him what his secret was. The guy’s response? Stay away from doctors and have at least two beers each day! Haha!

The point of that story (I think) is that during that period of time and with an attitude like that, how likely was it for that guy to have had low A1C’s?

Exactly. There must be something more.

*There’s a sticker on top of that computer monitor that says (yes, in all caps) “COMPUTERS FOR VRS USE ONLY – THANK YOU” What – were people browsing FaceBook while waiting for the doctor to come in?

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11 Comments on "The Protection Genes?"

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Mary Nilssen

Hi: Come from a family of Type 1 diabetics (3 out of 6). I was diagnosed in 1948, in October I will celebrate my 65th anniversary. Two of my siblings died from diabetes complications, one in 1975, one in 2011 (was blind for 30 years). Wrote a book about what I have done to get and stay healthy and the 10 principles I follow that lead me to better health in spite of the diabetes challenges.
Please see my website for more information on 2/10/2014.


Hooray for the complication-free eye exam! It seems that since research is still far away from complete understanding of what exactly causes and/or triggers this disease then it is equally far from understanding how the disease progresses in different people. Research still has a ways to go to solving this puzzle. Sigh. I just do what I can and hope for the best.


YAY YOU!!! The whole “genetic protection” scares the hell out of me, because Im certainly not in that group based on my family history. GULP.

Minnesota Nice

I’d say it’s a little of both.
But then, why did all of my relatives die within 20 years of diagnosis and I’m still here at 40?


Your optic nerve is HOT!