My Joslin Medalist Study Participation

A few weeks ago I received a letter from the Joslin Diabetes Center saying a smaller group of the previous participants were going to be tested again. They wanted to see some of us who had been tested at least five years ago, and determine how we are doing after that gap in time. My first participation at Joslin was December, 2009. I completed my second participation in the Joslin Medalist Study this week on Wednesday, June 28.

I fasted for ten hours before the testing began. I had not taken any bolus insulin during that ten hours. I entered the testing room at the Joslin Center at 7:30 AM. After several blood samples were taken I was told to suspend my pump so there was no basal insulin. Then I drank a big glass of a glucose mixture. After drinking the glucose my blood was tested every 30 minutes for the next two and a half hours. At that time it was 10 AM and my BG was 406. I felt very sick. Then I was told to take a correction bolus. The reason for the GTT ( Glucose Tolerance Test) is to see if there is any reduction in the blood glucose level during the 90 minutes after drinking the glucose mixture. Many participants did see their levels reduced during that time. This indicated some insulin was being produced within the participant’s body. That did not happen with my GTT, my BG kept increasing, so I do not produce any of my own insulin.

My wife and I walked the halls and rested during the next ninety minutes, while waiting for my appointment at the eye center on the first floor of the building. The eye study began at 11:30 AM. My BG was still very high at that time, and I was not feeling good during the eye examination, but I don’t think that influenced the outcome. This eye exam was much more thorough than the one given during my first medalist study participation in 2009. The results were great! The eye specialist told me that my eyes are amazingly good for someone who has been type 1 for 71 years.
I do have some bad neuropathy in my feet and legs, but my eyes, kidneys and heart are in good shape.

There were 1020 participants in the initial study (2005-2015). After the first 500+ participants had been tested, it was found that more than half of them were still producing some of their own insulin. Those individuals were producing only small amounts of insulin, but any amount might be helpful in helping to prevent diabetes complications. They are still insulin dependent, and type 1.

It has also been found that some medalists who were not producing insulin on the first visit, as shown by the glucose tolerance test, were then producing insulin during their second visit. This suggests that some of us have a “sporadic” or an “on again-off again” situation with insulin production. I was not producing insulin on either of my visits.

I am very grateful for having the opportunity to participate in the Joslin Medalist Study on both occasions. The study was free since it is part of the research being done at the Joslin Center. My hotel stay for the previous day was also paid by Joslin. It was an easy four drive from our home in Kingston, NY.

I applaud the Joslin Diabetes Center for doing this research. Dr. George King, head of the Study, hopes that the factors will be found that have enabled so many of us long term type 1 diabetics to avoid any serious diabetes related complications. Such a find might result in a treatment that would help younger type 1 people to live a long life without any serious complications.