Clifton family wants spotlight on diabetes

A Clifton family hopes to keep diabetes in the spotlight after sharing personal stories with a local congressman last month illustrating why maintained fundraising efforts are crucial in combating the disease which affects nearly nine percent of all Americans. As of 2010, National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse data estimated that 26 million Americans suffer from the disease, with approximately 7 million of that number unknowingly living with the lifelong condition. Michael Prybicien, an athletic trainer who is well-versed in nutrition and rehabilitation for injuries, was thrown a curveball when he and his wife, Jennifer, learned a year ago that their then 4-year-old son had a condition which could not be rectified by physical therapy or a healthy diet. A 15-year Clifton resident, Prybicien became involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation after his son, Aiden, was diagnosed with Type 1. "His pancreas doesn't produce insulin so there's nothing he could do. He was born with it," Prybicien said. "We just did what parents do: buckle down and do everything to help your child." The preschooler spent his first month after the diagnosis receiving eight or nine needles a day. Naturally, Aiden became frustrated, jaded and even angered by the disruptive, guinea-pig like existence. "But, then he settled in," his father recalled. "Thankfully, kids are resilient." Six months after his initial diagnosis, Aiden switched from the barrage of shots to an insulin pump which is about the size of a pager. The device delivers a small amount of insulin in drips each day and must be changed every 72 hours, Prybicien said. When the five-year-old eats, his parents first test Aiden's blood sugar by operating the small computer attached to the pump. "You can input the data and it calculates everything for you," Prybicien said. Today, the five year old is able to operate the device himself, under the supervision of his parents, by making note of how many carbohydrates he ingests during each meal. Fortunately, he does not require the pump at all times and is able to remove it for up to an hour at a time while bathing or playing sports. Without the pump Prybicien conceded that his son, and many other young diabetes patients like him, would be forced into a much more regimented lifestyle. Unfortunately, the cost of such pumps is prohibitive and is the driving force as to why the Prybiciens called upon U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell. "Because advancements are continually being made with the pumps, the management of diabetes gets better," Prybicien said. "The reduction of the disease's effects get better too. The future is automated pumps which would be referred to as an artificial pancreas. The future is very bright but it all comes at a price, which is where the Congressman comes in." Since 2000, the Promise to Remember Me campaign has relied on families and advocates to develop relationships with members of Congress in order to raise awareness and funding to research what triggers the disease. As the lone New Jersey representative on the House Ways and Means subcommittee on health, and a champion for diabetes funding, Pascrell is an influential figure for families coping with the disease's medical and financial challenges. "As a person living with diabetes, and the father of a diabetic, I know the struggles that millions of other individuals with the disease and their families deal with each and every day," Pascrell said. "I've been committed since my first term in Congress to fight to ensure that folks living with diabetes have the resources they need to lead a healthy life." As a member of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus, Pascrell vowed to continue working to ensure that the Special Diabetes Program is funded to advance Type 1 Diabetes research. The lawmaker said that meetings such as the one he held with Prybicien are important because they provide firsthand stories from families in Pascrell's district which reinforce the importance of the cause to millions of Americans. "The Congressman is so good and he's been an avid supporter for many years," said Prybicien, who previously testified as part of the federal concussion legislation sponsored by Pascrell and Sen. Bob Menendez. "His son also has diabetes so it really hits home with him and, when he sits down with families, it's genuine. He wanted to hear about Aiden, what happened with our family and how the research affected us as a family." Because Pascrell has a reservoir of personal knowledge about the disease, Prybicien said the lawmaker appreciates that advancements in care will help cut down the effects of the disease as well as the cost of insurance and the breaking down of other secondary issues like kidney disease, blindness, rheumatoid arthritis, heart issues and amputations. To read the complete article, please click the following link: