People with Type One Diabetes have to manage their disease every day. They're tied to insulin pumps and blood sugar monitors. But one local woman is taking part in clinical research she hopes will one day give more freedom to people with diabetes.
"I do have a little sensor under my skin that measures my blood sugar all the time and sends that blood sugar reading to my insulin pump," said Sally Southard, a Salem woman who showed the sensor and insulin pump that are attached to her at all times.
This is part of everyday life for Southard and others with Type One Diabetes. Treatments have certainly changed since Southard was first diagnosed at age ten. "Way back then we were boiling our glass syringes and giving ourselves insulin shots," Southard said.
Southard hopes to one day see a cure and new technology that makes controlling blood sugar easier. That's why she volunteered to take part in a clinical trial at the University of Virginia.
She spent the weekend there two weeks ago testing out a new external device that acts as an artificial pancreas. It is not a cure, but if approved it will help diabetics control their blood sugar around the clock.
"At one point my blood sugar was dropping so the pump actually stopped the insulin so the phone told the pump not to give me any more insulin because my blood sugars were dropping," Southard explained. "Once I ate something it started coming up again then the pump started giving me insulin again."
Southard said the research is fascinating and gives her hope that one day there will be a cure.
"I think I'm more inspired and more motivated to raise money for research so we can get that cure and the new technology or whatever it may be sooner rather than later," Southard said.
Southard was one of 15 people in this phase of testing for the new device. More testing will take place and results will be sent to the FDA where it's hoped the device will be approved for use.
This Sunday people will put on their walking shoes to raise money for diabetes research. The JDRF 20th annual Walk to cure diabetes is at the Virginia Transportation Museum Sunday September 23rd. Registration begins at 12:30pm and the walk begins at 2pm.