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While providing free comprehensive lifetime diabetes care service, for Insulin dependent diabetes in children and young people attending our V.H.S. Diabetes Department, for four and a half decades, we have learnt many, many lessons in the management of these severely challenged young ones and their families. To enable them to grow up into adulthood, through turbulent adolescence, despite their 24-hour challenged status (physically, psychologically and socially!); with sustained and all-round support from our team, is a sense of fulfillment and happiness unmatched.
It was not just about giving some free insulin to these type 1 diabetics, who could not afford the prohibitively expensive, lifesaving hormone injections, which these unfortunate children need to take – 2- 3 shots per day, every single day of their lives without fail! It was not even about organizing a team of dedicated young doctors, specialist nurses, diabetes educators, dieticians, psychologists, social workers and a whole lot of para-medical support-staff to run the Juvenile Diabetes Care Research and Rehabilitation service over all these years.
It is about our gaining knowledge and hopefully wisdom from the life stories of the over 650 children afflicted with the dreaded Insulin dependent diabetes, registered with us; the ups and downs in their lives, as they unfolded ‘live’ before our eyes, day in and day out, year after year, over 44 long years.
We shared their happiness and sorrows and grieved their untimely demise. We learnt from our possible mistakes, to serve them better. We helped them grow up, get married and beget children. We were able to explode several myths and wipe-out several misplaced apprehensions about Juvenile diabetes, which we had learnt previously only from text-books and journals; too theoretical and prohibitively expensive to practice.
Therefore, our set-up had to innovate for these children to survive and grow up into self sufficient adults. We learnt all about, not only, the goodness of family support, but also of the human Foreword tragedy when such support is lacking (the latter being fortunately rare cases).
In fact, this unique service of our Diabetes Department has resulted in germinating in my mind, the idea of writing about the life-stories of some of these young people, as they not only teach about the condition (Juvenile or type 1 diabetes) but also the role played by each individual’s human mind (good or bad), in the management of this lifelong difficult disease.
I had over 100 stories in mind, and when we started the new TAGVHS Diabetes Research Project, I was eager to bring out a small book about our experiences in bringing up these children – both successes and failures, so that others who read them could improve upon these and provide better service to these children, who deserve the best.
My attempts to identify and persuade people with journalistic skills did not fructify for nearly a year, until, Ms. Priya Ravi came to me with abundant enthusiasm, proven journalistic flair and an unmatched compassion and empathy for the children’s cause. These coupled with values of our ancient wisdom and heritage, was a godsend and I thrust on her the unenviable and challenging task of writing, editing and getting into print, at least a few representative stories of our challenged children’s lives, in this Volume, Part 1 of the series. That she has done this within a record 3-weeks-time shows her dedication and devotion to the cause. I am most grateful to her for the wonderful effort, which I am sure the readers would enjoy and benefit from.
I am indebted to my team of doctors, nurses, support-staff of our Diabetes Department and the VHS Management, for their voluntary service sustained over the past four decades and more, on a honorary basis or on a token remuneration basis – a truly noble concept that would surely satisfy the soul of our great Founder Prof. K.S.Sanjivi.
Finally, I shall be failing in my duty, if I do not publicly acknowledge the inspirational support provided by my wife, Dr. Prema Krishnaswamy, whose ‘Janana Thozhirchalai’ (Birth-Factory) on women’s health, published by Ananda Vikatan, some years ago, in book form – ‘uchi mudal, ullangal varai’ (‘From Head to Foot’), is still in great demand providing our Diabetes Department perennial income from royalties!
Our everlasting gratitude to the thousands of friends and donors of the VHS Diabetes Department, who have been sustaining our commitment to the cause of Voluntary Health Services to improve Health Care, by their munificent and generous donations and more particularly to the cause of our Juvenile Diabetes Programmes.
Head of VHS Diabetes Department, Chennai
Chairman, TAG-VHS Diabetes Research Centre
March, 2011.
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