Let’s count our blessings – by Jenny Foster


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The events of Japan’s earthquake and subsequent tsunami could not have escaped anyone’s notice earlier this month. I, like the rest of the nation, stared open-mouthed at the news pictures which came hurtling through our TV screens of the utter devastation that mother nature bestowed on one of the worlds most forward-thinking countries, turning it into what can only be described as a scene out of a Hollywood disaster movie.

While watching these pictures, Ewan’s diabetes paled into insignificance but it did get me thinking….

What would we do if, having survived a massive natural disaster like that in Japan, we found ourselves without access to healthcare and medication for Ewan?

Like most people with diabetes, and their carers, we keep a stock of Ewan’s medication and we replenish our stocks regularly so as to never run-out. What if those stocks were suddenly gone and there was nowhere to replenish? It lead me to investigate how those people with diabetes in Japan who have been effected by the disaster are coping without their insulin and is anyone aware of their plight and looking out for them?

Japan has a population of 127 million and roughly 7.3%, or approx 9 million Japanese people have Type 1 diabetes. It is impossible to know how many of those were immediately effected, survived and are now trying to cope without their medication. Water, food and adequate housing will quite rightly be taking priority on Japans list of things that need to be addressed. However, I was encouraged to read that the three main insulin manufacturers have donated insulin into the mainly effected areas and with the very real threat of acute hyperglycemia and DKA all three companies are working in collaboration with the Minister of Health in Japan and the President of the Japanese Association for Diabetes to try and locate as many people with diabetes as possible and get help to them quickly. They have not been forgotten.

I have always been impressed with the online diabetes community and at times like these its value is priceless. How else could millions of people be contacted within seconds and their location and needs identified?

The natural disaster in Japan has made me count my blessings. We live in a modern-day society with easy access to medication, healthcare and support without which millions of people like my son Ewan would not be able to lead a normal, active, fun-packed life and for that I am extremely grateful.

Jenny now has her own blog site too where she’ll talk much more about diabetes. Pop along and have a look. She’ll still kindly blog for Diabetes UK too :)

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