A voice for living well with Type 1 Diabetes

My diagnosis was similar to most. I had been sluggish for weeks, lost weight and was making frequent visits to the bathroom. My Mother called our family pediatric practice. A young, recent medical school graduate had become part of the practice. His name was Jack Burr.

Dr. Burr requested a urine sample the next morning. When Mom brought the specimen to the pediatrician’s office, sugar crystals had formed at the top of the specimen. Later that day, Dr. Burr admitted me to St. Mary’s hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. For the next eight days (yes, eight days!), he and the medical staff determined my treatment regimen. I left the hospital with this prescription: Three units of regular insulin mixed with six units of Lente insulin in one syringe, given each morning before breakfast, and an 1,800 calorie diet. Here’s the packaging from my first bottle of insulin:

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Dr. Burr guided me through the first decade of my diabetes, until he relocated to Wisconsin. He was energetic, committed, kind and supportive while he researched treatment methods and spent countless hours helping my parents and me understand diabetes and how to treat it.

I feel blessed to have had such an engaged and committed physician guide my first decade with diabetes. In 1963 I don’t know how many insulin treatment options included a combination of fast-acting and long-acting insulin. Dr. Burr thought it made sense and it obviously paid dividends. He also encouraged me to be active, although he really wouldn’t have been able to stop me from playing outside all the time!

Shortly after I passed the 50-year mark of living with diabetes, I was curious if Dr. Burr was still alive. I searched the Internet and found contact information for a retired Dr. Jack Burr. I wrote a letter and mailed it to him, hoping it would be the right person. Well … several weeks later I came home from work and my wife smiled and showed me a letter with the return address of one Jack K. Burr, M.D.! I don’t get emotional very often, but that moment absolutely captured me.

His letter was as kind and supportive as he was 50 years ago. He is still in good health (in fact he celebrated his 80th birthday in 2013) and is living an active life. It’s terrific to see that those that give so much also receive.

Thank you, Dr. Burr, for the positive influence you had on me and, I’m certain, many others!