Bobby Tyner: The Face of Juvenile Diabetes
I remember my first encounter with Juvenile Diabetes. It's name was Bobby Tyner, and he was one of my mother's friends from childhood. I had heard Mama talk about him with her friends many times when we visited her home town of Pinebluff, N.C., population 500.
I remember meeting Bobby when I was 6 years old at my Granny Patrick's home, although I may have been introduced to him before that. What makes that memory stick is that he was different than the other adults I knew. He was sitting in a wheelchair, and he was wearing his sunglasses inside the house.
When I whispered my observations in Mama's ear, she very calmly explained that Bobby had been very sick ever since he was a little boy my own age. The disease had made his feet hurt so much he couldn't walk anymore. He had to wear glasses because he couldn't see and the light hurt his eyes.
I never saw Bobby Tyner again after that day; he died shortly after that visit. He was only 33 years old.
We are much more aware of diabetes today than we were in 1964, but children and adults are still being diagnosed at an alarming rate. They still end up in wheelchairs and go blind. Diabetes is the fifth deadliest killer of adults and children. We have made great strides in early detection, self monitoring, and treatment, but there is still no cure. People of all ages still suffer the effects of this disease such as macular degeneration, kidney failure, and amputation due to poor circulation in the feet, just to name a few. The side effects of diabetes are many and serious. Both Type I (Juvenile Diabetes) and Type II (Adult Onset Diabetes), can be monitored and slowed, but not stopped.
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