A voice for living well with Type 1 Diabetes

My diagnosis was similar to most. I had been sluggish for weeks, lost weight, and frequently visited the bathroom. My Mother called our pediatric family 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 following day. 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. He and the medical staff determined my treatment regimen for the next eight days (yes, eight days!).

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 a 1,800-calorie diet. Here’s the packaging from my first bottle of insulin:


Dr. Burr guided me through the first decade of my diabetes until he relocated to Wisconsin. He was energetic, committed, kind, and supportive while researching 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.

I am curious how many treatments included a combination of fast-acting and long-acting insulin in the early 1960s. Dr. Burr thought it made sense, and it 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 and mailed a letter to him, hoping he 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 Jack K. Burr, M.D.

I don’t get emotional very often, but that moment captured me. His letter was as kind and supportive as he was 50 years ago. Thank you, Dr. Burr, for your positive influence on me and, I’m confident, many others.

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