Supreme Court Nominee has Diabetes

Dr. Fran Cogen Health Pro
  • On May 26 I was on my way to Children's National Medical Center listening to National Public Radio, when I was alerted that the announcement of President Obama's Supreme Court Justice nominee was to be released at 10 am. I was extremely interested, but this especially peaked my interest because one of the candidates was a 54-year-old New York Judge with Type 1 Diabetes, diagnosed at age eight.


    I began seeing my patients around 8:30 am and at 10:30 am I received a call from the hospital's Public Relations Department saying "CNN wants to interview you and discuss Sonia Sotomayor!" When CNN calls, you most certainly go! At 11:45 am (clinic concluded), we traveled to the CNN offices in Washington and I was interviewed by a very knowledgeable reporter for about 30 minutes. She asked me general questions about diabetes, such as the difference between type 1 and type 2, United States diabetes statistics, pathophysiology, Ms.Sotomayor's insulin regime (did not know), if her diabetes would interfere with her ability to perform on the Supreme Court Bench, acute and chronic complications of diabetes, how would she treat low blood sugars, if she would even realize if she had a low blood sugar, etc. I answered all questions honestly; however, I emphasized that if the Judge had managed to successfully graduate summa cum laude from Princeton University, attend Yale Law School, and preside as an attorney and judge for more than 40 years, I thought she could certainly manage to continue to care successfully for her diabetes. (We don't know her hb A1c, of course, but I am sure it is not 14 percent - we do now: in the 6-7 range per MD report). I stressed that all persons with type 1 diabetes can do anything they choose to do (with the very minor exception of flying commercial airplanes in the United States). Fortunately, CNN decided that precisely those two last comments (leaving out the flying disclaimer) should be the 15-second sound byte on Wolf Blitzer's Situation Room. I was elated! CNN chose to present Ms. Sotomayor in the best possible light in terms of her diabetes.

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    This is a historic moment, not only for women and the Latino Community, but also for our diabetes community. Mr. Obama, by nominating Ms. Sotomayor, has essentially fulfilled the dream of all children, teens, and adults with a chronic illness by saying "Yes, you can! He also has provided diabetes healthcare professionals with real ammunition in terms of "motivation potions." I plan to use this nomination as a means to ignite my children and teens to take their diabetes care seriously. If you take care of yourself, check blood sugars, carbohydrate count, take insulin as directed, etc., it is possible for you to become a Supreme Court justice (let alone a lawyer, scientist, football player, famous boy singer...or even an endocrinologist).


    On the very next day, one of my teens (who struggles with diabetes as do most of her peers) was having issues checking blood sugars at least four times per day. Instead of my usual inquiry about barriers, etc., I asked what she thought about the new Supreme Court nominee and mentioned that she had type 1 diabetes. A long conversation ensued and my patient stated, "If Sonia Sotomayor could become a Supreme Court nominee, I could at least check my blood sugars four times a day." YEAH!


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    Everyone is buzzing about Ms. Sotomayor; however, we, in the diabetes community know just how much work it has been to juggle all that is required to maintain excellent blood sugars, let alone, be successful in a career path. It is true that Ms. Sotomayor has a compelling life story, but all of my children and teens have one as well. The key is the knowledge that today we have the tools to manage this condition successfully and tomorrow, one of my very own patients may pursue and ultimately provide the cure.


    To see the clip of Dr. Cogen on CNN, click here!

Published On: June 08, 2009