Our Already-Great America

During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has said a great deal about making America great again. I had a conversation with one of our clinic interpreters who showed me why America is great now.

Our Already-Great America

Image credit: “Unity Amidst Diversity” by eddypau

Ambar was born in Mexico. When she was a young child, her father came on a visa to work in Los Angeles. Because he was worried about issues of gang violence in LA, he moved his family to Memphis, where Ambar and her sister grew up. Four years ago Ambar married a young man from Mississippi.

From here on, this story gets complicated. You may need to pull out your atlas.

Ambar’s husband grew up in Mississippi, but his parents did not. His father is from Morocco and his grandmother is from Spain. Ambar’s husband’s mother is from Korea. His mother’s sister married an African-American US soldier who moved the whole family from Korea to Mississippi.

Ambar’s Mexican-born sister recently married an Indian man who grew up in England. At their wedding, there was a traditional Indian service, the bride was painted in henna, and there was also a Mariachi band.

So to recap: Mexican, Moroccan, Korean, Spanish, Indian, and British heritages all mingled together to make up your average family living in north Mississippi and Memphis.

No matter how you look at it, surely that is what makes America great.

Religiously, we have mixed Catholic, Muslim, Hindi, Sikh, Protestant Christian, and Buddhist.
I am guessing that makes God smile. I am not so naive as to think this family does not have cultural challenges. Questions about how to raise their children are certain to abound. But the richness of their lives from the amazing diversity is certain to bring a fullness to life that is not easy to come by.

America truly is a country of immigrants. I know that my life is made richer by my experience of other points of view both culturally and when it comes to how God is made known.

America does not need to be made great again. It already is.


A “Cure” for Type 1 Diabetes is Not One-Size-Fits-All

Today, I treated someone who has type 1 diabetes mellitus. While it’s common for me to see people with diabetes multiple times a day, this consult was unique. Most diabetics I see weigh well over 200 pounds, but this gentleman weighed barely 130 pounds. Being diagnosed at age 14, he knew a great deal about diabetes.

Now in his mid-twenties, he takes insulin shots several times a day and knows how to check his blood sugar. He knows all the right foods to eat, but still his diabetes was poorly controlled because he is what is called a “brittle” diabetic. Brittle diabetics suffer from dramatic blood sugar spikes and drops, often without warning.

He is the perfect candidate for a new and promising research study that will allow the transplantation of insulin-producing cells into the bodies of type 1 diabetics just like him.

But did you know that less than 10% of all diabetics are type 1?

My patient today was in the minority of the diabetics I treat. Almost everyone I treat has type 2 diabetes, which is in many ways a completely different disease. Type 2 diabetes is determined more by lifestyle and eating habits than by insulin-producing cells.

FACT: Our bodies live off of sugar.

Everything we eat is chewed up and swallowed into our stomachs. Our intestines then turn all food, no matter where it came from, into sugar. That sugar goes into our bloodstream and travels to the cells of our organs. This is where the problem arises. The sugar needs to get into the cells but cannot do it on its own. It needs help, and that’s where insulin comes in. Insulin is produced by our bodies and floats around in our blood until it comes upon the sugar. It then grabs hold of the insulin and connects it to insulin receptors that are attached to the walls of the cells, sort of like a key to a door. Once connected, the sugar enters the cells and the sugar is converted to energy.

Make sense?

With type 1 diabetes, there is a problem with the insulin. With type 2 diabetes, problems arise because of a patient’s lifestyle.

The pills that are used to remedy type 2 diabetes work to make the body’s insulin more effective. These pills don’t work with type 1 patients because the person’s insulin is totally broken.

With type 2 diabetes, there is also the issue of the receptor being “sick”. Interestingly enough, it is often possible to improve the health of the receptors by doing those things that we should all be doing anyway, things like exercising and eating more fruits and vegetables. This is why we strongly encourage all type 2 diabetics to join our Wellness center and work with our dietician on ways to eat better and exercise more. As a Certified Medical Fitness Facility, Church Health Center Wellness is equipped to serve the needs of those struggling with chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes.

I truly hope that the high tech “cure” for diabetes happens in the near future, but if it does it will only be for the small number of people who have type 1 diabetes.

For the lion’s share of people with diabetes and all the terrible consequences it can lead to, the best treatment is prevention.