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Dr. Bill's Commentaries

Judge Sotomayor's diabetes doctor's letter   (May 29, 2009)

As most of you are probably aware by now, Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has had diabetes since childhood. Ms. Sotomayor was born June 25, 1954, and was diagnosed at age 8 -- that would add up to around 47 years of living with diabetes.

Some pundits have been raising questions about whether her diabetes might be a negative influence on her suitability as a Supreme -- and there's a comment from a JDRF representative (quoted in the HuffingtonPost) that "the average life expectancy for people with Type One is lowered by an average of ten years."

Other discussions of her diabetes have emphasized the improvements in diabetes care that have occurred during the last several decades. As expected, both the ADA and the JDRF have issued official statements praising her nomination, and emphasizing that diabetes can be controlled and should not be a barrier to employment.

But 47 years of diabetes, and many of those in the era before modern medical miracles such as home blood glucose monitoring, A1C tests, and insulin pumps, led me to wonder exactly what her diabetes status might be. Fortunately, any worries about her health are allayed by her doctor's statement, now on-line at the HuffingtonPost, and reproduced as part of an article, Sotomayor's Doctor Says Her Diabetes A Non-Issue.

In a letter addressed "To whom it may concern," Dr. Andrew Jay Drexler, her endocrinologist, states that during the twenty or more years that he has known her, "she has always had excellent control of her diabetes with consistent blood sugars better than 98% of diabetics... Her hemoglobin A1c levels... have consistently been less than 6.5%." He adds that she has no evidence of any microvascular complciations; cardiac stress testing was completely normal, and adds that "given her blood pressure and cholesterol levels and excellent diabetes control she does not appear to be at risk for a heart attack or stroke."

Thank you, Judge Sotomayor, for authorizing Dr. Drexler to write and release this letter. And congratulations and best wishes.

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Dr. Bill Quick began writing at HealthCentral's diabetes website in November, 2006. These essays are reproduced at D-is-for-Diabetes with the permission of HealthCentral.



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