Reader alert: This post is a bit longer than normal, sorry about that!
I left off my last story concerning Faustman Labs with me scheduling a trip to Boston to visit Faustman Labs and donate blood for the research. My wife and I left for Boston in June of 2010, as we arrived in Boston, I began to notice my anxiety beginning to rise. We were going to meet with researchers who were connected to Massachusettes General Hospital, a world renowned research hospital. What would it be like? How long would it take? How often would I have to return to Boston? What is going to happen and what kind of changes will this bring to my life?
To understand some of these questions one must understand my life as a type 1 diabetic at the time. When one is trying to maintain health and wellness all the while managing the bleeping numbers, the desire for stasis in ALL areas of one’s life is paramount. Anything new can send repercussions into the management of the numbers. Up to this point I had been discovering everything affects these numbers. Stress, illness, weather, happiness, sadness, depression, and anxiety are just a few of the factors in stable blood sugar number management. As a type 1 diabetic the fight is for stasis in everything you can control and manage as best you can the things you cannot control. My concern was I invited new stress into my life, what would be the consequences?
We rented a car at the airport and arrived, eventually, to the hotel. I say eventually because if you have ever driven in downtown Boston there is no easy way to get anywhere. We circled the hotel several times until I could figure out how to actually get to the hotel.(sheesh…STRESS) We got settled and early the next day proceeded to the Naval Ship Yards in Charlestown near Beacon Hill to visit the lab. When we arrived at building 149, I know right?, we checked in to the security station. All the while I am nervous and stressed over the unknown; will this be an overwhelming experience?
Now, any of you who read this and have been to Faustman Labs are probably laughing at my anxiety. Nick (the lab tech guy) came downstairs and escorted us to the lab. The lab was the size of a postage stamp and I met 2/3rds of the staff, already, Dr. Faustman and now Nick. I thought to myself, really? This is it? Nick drew a few vials of blood from me and from my wife and explained what the lab was doing with the blood samples. The lab is such a small operation it settled me down immediately. This lab is a grass roots research center where there was no flashy new drugs or surgical procedures that would wow the world. Instead it was about finding a cure, sooner than later, for those who suffered from a disease that likes to reside not only in your body, but in your head as well. I was drawn to this tiny lab and began a, going on 6 year, relationship with them traveling out to Boston every 6 months for a 15 minute blood draw and feeling this has been totally worth it.
As I continue to age, gracefully I might add, I have come to be a ‘systems theorist’ in a contextual manner. Systems theory (Ludwig von Bertalanffy, 1926) posited “perpetual reoccurance of the same phenomena occur at every level” (p.49). Meaning everything is connected in the grand scheme of things. I agree with this theory but with one qualifier. Things are only connected to one another if we are self aware enough to contextualize these connections. When we see these connections we can then make informed decisions about what we will and will not do to minimize the amount of impact, positive or negative, placed upon us. In the case of my diabetes, the extreme stress the choices I made in my younger life placed on my health may have affected the severity of the disease. If I had not paid attention to what was going on and made some drastic changes in my life, I would no longer be living. All things are connected if we connect them and make wiser choices to improve our lives. Learning from our failures ought to be embraced equally as much as our shining victories. We are who we are because of the choices, good or bad, we make when adversity arrives. We become wise when we make choices that help us become healthier; body, soul, and spirit. The choice I made to go to Boston has proven a life changing event. I stepped outside of my comfort zone and decided I wanted to live life again…whole. I am excited about the pending clinical trial. As one of 120 in the world participating in the trial, I am hopeful that systems theory applies to every diabetic in the world!
von Bertalanffy, L., 1926. Fechner und das Problem der Integration horerer Ordnung. PhD thesis, University of Vienna. Austria