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A dream come true

Hoag Hospital’s new Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center shows how love and commitment can trump any obstacle.

By William LobdellPublished: August 01, 2009

“Only in Newport Beach” is usually used in a derogatory fashion, often in conjunction with mouth-dropping stories about excessive wealth, greed or plastic surgery.
But there’s a wonderful flip side to “Only in Newport Beach,” the latest example being the cutting-edge, $24-million Mary & Dick Allen Diabetes Center at Hoag Hospital, which opened last month.
Nearly 24 million Americans (7.8 percent of the population) have diabetes, and about 25 percent of the cases are undiagnosed; diabetes is the most costly chronic disease; and diabetes accounts for 32 percent of all Medicare expenditures.
I received an unwanted crash course in the disease three years ago, when my then-14-year-old son, Tristan, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on Thanksgiving eve.
I watch with tears in my eyes as my boy pricks his fingertips up to 10 times daily to measure his blood sugar levels or gives himself one of up to six insulin shots a day. My heart breaks as he courageously keeps himself healthy by measuring his carbohydrate intake and by giving himself enough insulin to break it down. Or when his blood sugar level bottoms out during the night, causing him to lose hours of sleep. Or when he had to quit his crew team because he couldn’t get his sugar levels adjusted – and he worried that he might let his teammates down during practice or, worse, in a race. Or when he told me he wanted to be a Navy pilot, and I had to tell him the military wouldn’t accept him because of his diabetes.

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