As all of my kids know I just spent Thursday and Friday at the University of Utah hospital. It was year two of a four year study on the neuropathy of diabetics.
When I got there on Thursday morning I was 12 hours into a 12 hour fast so that they could do an A1C which is way to see how well a diabetic is controlling their sugars. My last A1C in july was 5.3 - they like it to be under 7 so the doctors were pleased with my diet and exercise. The A1C tracks the amount of sugar in my blood. This record changes as old red blood cells in your body die and new red blood cells (with fresh hemoglobin) replace them. The amount of A1C in your blood reflects blood sugar control for the past 120 days, or the lifespan of a red blood cell.
They probably took about 3 quarts - oh! I mean 3 vials of blood for various tests. Then they gave me time to empty my suitcase and put my clothes away as I was staying overnight. Over the two day period they ran laser tests on my nerves and heat tests and cold tests and sweat tests and pin prick tests. They also removed small areas of skin on my hip, by my knee and by my ankle which they will study for nerve damage. And last but not least they took pictures of the back of my eyes to check for macular degeneration which is a big worry with diabetics. My eyes looked good they said.
To me the pin prick tests told me the most. When the doctor poked my big toe with the sharp end of a safety pin I couldn't feel it. When he pricked the top of my big toe I could feel the pressure but no prick. When he pricked about two inches about my big toe and about five inches above my big toe it felt like a ball point pen. Finally when he pricked the front of the ankle I felt the 'pain' of a needle prick!! Also on the hot and cold nerve studies on my feet I was at 97% - that meant 97% of the people tested felt more than I did!! I only 3% of the people felt less!
The studies at the University of Utah are to track the increase of neuropathy in extremities of diabetics over a four year period. The main focus is to be able to find tests to pinpoint diabetes BEFORE it does any damage. Hopefully there are other studies going on out there to help AFTER the damage is done but right now the doctor said there is no way to recover what has been lost.
They treat the patients in the study royally with good food and friendly helpful staff. A few of the tests HURT, some of them were uncomfortable and some of them downright interesting. I will go back in a year and let them poke and prod my poor hands and feet some more. All in the interest of science.