Those with T1D often have a very close relationship with their endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in the endocrine system and hormones, and Dr. Nick Argento of Columbia, MD made his career in diabetes management after “living & breathing it every day.”
Q: When were you diagnosed with T1D?
A: I was diagnosed at 8 years old back in 1968. It was kind of the prehistoric era of T1D management and a time when prognosis was pretty grim. Patients back then weren’t expected to live past 50 and having T1D often meant a short life. My parents and I refused to accept that. It was early in my life that I knew I wanted to be a diabetes doctor- an endocrinologist.
Q: What is it like treating patients with T1D while also having it yourself?
A: So an endo isn’t just about diabetes, we also treats things like thyroid or hormone issues, but I would say 90% of the patients I see are for diabetes. And half have T1D. My practice tries to be cutting edge in our treatments of T1D patients, we have been early adopters of technology like the Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) and in making sure that it’s accessible to them. It is rewarding to help others with T1D and to be able to relate to them through my own experiences.
Q: You also advocate for patients?
A: Yes, I have been lead investigator on several retrospective CGM research studies, and contributed to an ADA book on insulin pumps. I think it is important for me to be on the academic side of T1D research as much as the clinical. I have been doing advocacy work with Medicare (CMS) as well, often through the guise of being a clinician and a patient all in one, and have assisted in FDA meetings on diabetes technology.
Q: What are you most proud of?
A: Recently, I would say helping to get Medicare coverage of CGM. Being able to represent my patients and their right to coverage of this life changing technology is imperative. Many people I know have fought T1D for years and they deserve access to the tools and treatments like CGM that are essential to help keep them healthy. Like I said earlier, people didn’t use to live past age 50 with T1D and now it is expected. Just in the past four decades, we have seen huge advancements in research and management. It allows me to do more for my patients. I credit some of that to JDRF and their mobilization of resources. JDRF sponsored the CGM trial that paved the way for coverage of CGM, and eventually closed loop systems.
Q: What inspires you?
A: A lot of people point to superstar athletes or Olympians or high profile people who have T1D and I agree that they are very inspiring. But I am motivated by everyday people who have T1D. Those who wake up every morning and just do what they have to do. The famous mountain climber Will Cross, who has T1D, once said something that I live by, “I never let diabetes stop me from doing what I love, but it just takes planning.”
Q: What advice do you give to patients who are recently diagnosed?
A: Learn a lot, get engaged and get ready to grab the bull by the horns to outlive T1D. It’s very understandable to be upset when diagnosed, but the patients who I can motivate to confront this head on will do the best. We have figured this disease out and will continue to figure it out everyday.