2021 marks 100 years since the discovery of insulin and we could think of no better place to hear the story of how it happened than from the folks at Banting House. That’s literally the house where Sir Frederick Banting woke up with the idea that led to this life saving discovery.
Curator Grant Maltman shares stories and takes us on a bit of an audio tour of the House. He explains how Dr. Banting got started, made the discovery (with help of course) and what the museum is doing to mark the occasion. It’s a very interactive museum with everything from a letter writing campaign to Dr. Banting that’s still going on, to a display of diabetes tattoos from around the world.
Stacey also shares her idea to mark 100 years of insulin – with your help!
This podcast is not intended as medical advice. If you have those kinds of questions, please contact your health care provider.
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Episode Transcription below:
Stacey Simms 0:00
Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dario Health: Manage your blood glucose levels, increase your possibilities; by Gvoke HypoPen: the first premixed auto injector for very low blood sugar; and by Dexcom: take control of your diabetes and live life to the fullest with Dexcom.
This is Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
Stacey Simms 0:27
This week, we’re talking to the curator of Banting House, which is known as the birthplace of insulin. It’s literally the house where Sir Frederick Banting woke up with the idea that led to this life-saving discovery.
Grant Maltman 0:40
We’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin. 100 years later, we have better insulin, what we still don’t have is anything better than insulin. And that’s what makes this place so important. It’s why people come here, you know, we hear the words, like pilgrimage, we have people refer to us as a “Diabetes Mecca.”
Stacey Simms 1:00
Grant Maltman shares stories and takes us on a bit of an audio tour of the house. We’re also cooking up an idea to mark this century of insulin anniversary, but I’m going to need your help. This podcast is not intended as medical advice. If you have those kinds of questions, please contact your health care provider.
Welcome to another week of the show, always so glad to have you here we aim to educate and inspire about diabetes with a focus on people who use insulin, and Banting House is one of those places I would really like to visit. Hey, everybody, I’m Stacey Simms. I am your host, my son was diagnosed more than 14 years ago with Type One and my husband lives with Type Two. And you know, obviously, insulin is incredibly important to us and everybody listening to the show, as you’ll hear people travelled to the museum, not only to learn more about history, but also in the hopes that they will be inspired, with a bit of an aha moment, like Dr. Banting was. The curator, Grant Maltman, will take us through more of the exhibits and the history. I’m not going to do that here. But I do want to let you know, there is a brief YouTube video that I’ve put out that goes along with this episode, you’re gonna hear almost at the end of the interview, Grant turns the camera on and takes us through part of the exhibit. So you can listen to that. And we really get the idea, but I thought you might also want to see it. And so that’s on YouTube as well. I will link that up in the episode. And it’s always a good way to mention that we have links and information for every episode at Diabetes-connections.com, in addition to the show notes in whatever podcast app you may be listening to, but some of those apps don’t really show the notes very well. And they don’t hyperlink and all that good stuff. So you can always go to Diabetes-connections.com. And please stick around after the interview. I want to run an idea by you for kind of our own way on the show here, for you to take part of marking 100 years since Dr. Banting’s discovery. So stick around for that.
But first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dario Health. And over the years I find we manage diabetes better when we’re thinking less about all the stuff of diabetes tasks. And that’s why I love partnering with people who take the load off on things like ordering supplies, so I can really focus on Benny. The Dario diabetes success plan is all about you, all the strips and lancets you need delivered to your door, one-on- -one coaching so you can meet your milestones, weekly insights into your trends, with suggestions on how to succeed. Get the diabetes management plan that works with you and for you. Dario’s published studies demonstrate high impact clinical results, find out more. Go to mydario.com/diabetes-connections. Grant, thanks so much for joining me. I’m really interested to hear more about your story and share about the Banting House. Thanks for being here today.
Grant Maltman 3:54
Oh, my pleasure. This is going to be fun.
Stacey Simms 3:56
Yeah. All right. Well, let’s just start with the, you know, very generalities. Can you tell you what Banting House is all about?
Grant Maltman 4:02
Well, Banting House since 1923, has been known as the birthplace of insulin. It’s Frederick Banting’s former home where he came up with the idea that led to the discovery of insulin. It was purchased by Diabetes Canada in 1981, declared a National Historic Site of Canada in 1997, and are now full museum open to the public.
Stacey Simms 4:24
When you say the birthplace of insulin, tell me the story. What does that mean?
Grant Maltman 4:28
Well, this is always history. So everyone knows or you know, we’d like to help everyone know, that the discovery of insulin occurred at the University of Toronto during the summer of 1921. Like every great story, that’s neither the beginning nor the end. And so the origin story for insulin in this context anyways, is this house. So Frederick Banting is a struggling general practitioner in London, Ontario. After the First World War, he couldn’t get a job in Toronto as a house surgeon. So he came here to set up a practice and this wasn’t an “open it and they will come” scenario. He does everything wrong, he moves to a city where he doesn’t know anyone. He doesn’t take over a retire doctor’s office. His office hours are terrible, 1-3 in the afternoon, seven to eight in the evening, his location isn’t a great spot to set up as a private practice, it’s not a high traffic area. You could put your name on the front window, but there’s big silver Maple up front, and no one’s going to see it. So he’s literally 0 for 4, or even the phonebook. He failed there too, the phone book was printed in April, and he doesn’t move here until June. So he opens his practice on the first of July 1920. His first patient arrives 28 days later. And according to his memoir, it’s not even a real medical problem in 1920. In Ontario, we’re still under the Prohibition Act. And according to Banting’s memoir, anyways, he writes an illegal alcohol prescription, illegal alcohol sale. So our great Canadian hero starts off his career as a modern day bootlegger. While the practice slowly starts to grow, it’s not enough to pay his bills. And so he takes a job at Western University at the Medical School where he’s literally a day or two ahead of the students, he takes this opportunity because of the income. Each lab that he does is $2 an hour, which is great, considering his entire July income was $6. So three labs in the early fall of 1920. He’s gonna equal his entire July income, things are progressing well. And towards the end of October, he’s asked to prepare a lecture on the subject of the pancreas and diabetes. And one of the the myths around the discouraged insulin is that Dr. Banting was on this lifelong quest to find a cure for this disease because a 14 year old boy or girl, friend or cousin, depending on his telling his story, the key is, this, it’s a young child, had diabetes, that Banting knew. This child died, “Okay, well, I’m going to grow up, I’m going to go to medical school and find a treatment for diabetes,” not the case at all. He’s scared to death because he has to give a lecture on a subject he knows very little about, he had never treated the patient with diabetes, he knew that the only treatment was, was the Allen diet was the standard diet, the starvation diet. Once you’re on that diet, your life expectancy is about six months to two years. So we can’t do much of a lecture on four or five senses. So on the 30th of October, he reads everything he can and prepares his lecture. And then that evening, when he goes to bed, he takes to bed his surgical journal. He always likes to read himself to sleep. And he opens up this journal by Moses Baron. And it’s a survey article on diabetes and diabetes research and what a great opportunity to read this, perhaps there’s something in this that I can incorporate into my lecture. And so he reads the article, turns out the light and goes to sleep at 2am. After a night of restless sleep, he rises for bed and puts to paper 25 words that will change course of diabetes research and diabetes history. It was a restless night of restless sleep. “After the lecture and the article been chasing each other in my mind for some time, the idea occurred to me. I got up, I wrote down, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Those 25 words leaked that first crude farm insulin 10 months later, after only about 12 weeks of experiments.”
Stacey Simms 8:16
So I had never heard that he was interested in this as a little, you know, as a young kid, but I had heard about him, you know, waking up in the middle of the night. So he wakes up and what he writes isn’t, you know, “We’re gonna change the course of history and I have this idea of how to, you know, discover insulin and administer it to people.” He basically writes out what you said.
Grant Maltman 8:34
What he writes is, it’s a 25 word hypothesis. (Inaudible) who came through here says it’s a modern day post-it note. He writes “diabetes ligate pancreatic ducts of dog keep dogs alive to a senile degenerate leaving islets. Try to isolate internal secretion of these and relief glycosuria.” So those 25 words got him lab space, a research assistant, and a Nobel Prize. (Muffled) years to the day of writing it down. And one of the great ironies, co-discoverer of insulin can’t even spell diabetes correctly, he’s a terrible speller. But as a physician, he’s got great penmanship. So everything we can read, which is great for the public record.
Stacey Simms 9:17
Wow. What does he do after that? Does he go and give the lecture as planned? I, you know, as you said, it wasn’t overnight that things changed. This was the beginning. But what happens when he gives the lecture? Does he include that hypothesis?
Grant Maltman 9:29
We don’t know that. We do know that he was pretty excited and spoke to a couple of colleagues here in town. He literally, Banting can sometimes be like a bull in a china shop. It’s like, hey, I’ve got this, let’s go. But unfortunately, Western’s medical school, the number two school, was still under construction. And we see we just didn’t have the facilities or expertise here. When he’s speaking to his colleagues at Western and one of his former classmates who’s living here in town, they encourage him to go back to his alma mater. He’s going to be in Toronto in mid-November anyways, so why not go speak with Professor John McLeod, head of the physiology department, a leading expert in the field of carbohydrate metabolism, and go and run your idea by him and and that’s how things got started.
Stacey Simms 10:16
When we’re talking about Banting House, this is the house where he woke up and wrote that down. What do people see when they come through? You know, I haven’t had the opportunity yet to travel there. It’s definitely on my list.
Grant Maltman 10:28
It’s a really interesting museum. We often catch people by surprise because you say Banting Museum, the first thing you think of is insulin, understandably. I’m doing this podcast from the bedroom where it occurred right now, and it’s our probably most important room in the gallery, but the museum is a biographical museum, letting people know who he was and what he was about when he lived here. He actually only used three rooms in the house because the people he bought the home from, their new home wasn’t ready yet. He’s single, doesn’t need the whole place. So he says, why don’t you stay? This way, you know, they can pay the water bills and electricity bills, so, and ended up feeding him and bringing patients as well. So under our designation, we have to restore the three rooms that he did occupy. So as I said, I’m in the bedroom where we restored right back to the original wallpaper. His office is set up, as well as a small apothecary. So you get to understand what it was like to be a 1920s private practice for a physician. The rest of the house we tell his life story. So, we feature his art, he was a pretty good painter, very good friends with Canada’s most famous painters and export the Group of Seven. Art was a, painting was a hobby, started here in London. One patient, 28 days, gives you a lot of free time. And so he started up like everything else, off to a bad start, buys watercolor brushes, which are tiny, thick oil paints and tries drawing pictures from magazines, sort of. They’re not very good. In fact, we have the one that was donated to us a few years back, is the only surviving painting from 1920. And it’s done on cardboard from the laundromat because he couldn’t afford artboard. But then we have one of his latest from 1937, was a wonderful image of the Quebec landscape which really shows his growth as an artist. He, we have a an exhibit gallery that covers his career in the First World War. He’s a decorated war hero, Military Cross winner from September of 1918. During the last 100 days, he’s wounded in the arm and refuses to evacuate to the rear. As for his actions that day, he’s awarded the Military Cross, which is the second highest honor in the British Empire. And so three years before they discover insulin, Banting is actually a decorated war hero. But as Canadians we don’t know this, because insulin casts a pretty long shadow. We cover his career in the Second World War, where he was a leading scientist throughout allied war effort, which actually has a Carolina connection. Regression chambers and the Frank’s flying suit, the G suit for fighter pilots. Banting was one of the leading coordinators for that, the Frank’s flying suit actually comes out of the University of Toronto, we of course cover the discovery of insulin from start to finish with a couple of really interesting exhibitions there. And we’re also keepers here of the flavorful…
Stacey Simms 13:23
We’ll get back to Grant just a moment so he can explain all about that. But first, Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Gvoke HypoPen and our endo always told us that if you use insulin, you need to have emergency glucagon on hand as well. Low blood sugars are one thing we’re usually able to treat those with fast acting glucose tabs or just some juice, but a very low blood sugar can be very frightening. Which is why I’m so glad there’s a different option for emergency glucagon. It is Gvoke HypoPen, Gvoke HypoPen is pre-mixed and ready to go with no visible needle. You pull off the red cap and push the yellow end onto bare skin and hold it for five seconds. That’s it. Find out more, go to Diabetes-connections.com and click on the Gvoke logo. Gvoke shouldn’t be used in patients with pheochromocytoma or insulinoma. Visit Gvokeglucagon.com/risk. Now back to Grant explaining one of the most popular and significant exhibits at Banting House.
Grant Maltman 14:20
Now the Flame of Hope was lit on July 7, 1989 by the Queen Mother. So the Queen of Englandy, our current Queen Elizabeth the 2nd’s mom and this claim stays lit until a cure for diabetes is found. And the doctor or team of doctors, no matter where in the world they are, when that cure is found, they are to be brought to London to extinguish the claim and also open up a time capsule that the International Diabetes Federation has left here in our property. So it’s a pretty all-encompassing story, not only on Banting’s life but in the discovery of insulin, but also the legacy of hope for a cure.
Stacey Simms 14:53
Yeah, I’m curious when was that time capsule created?
Grant Maltman 14:57
The time capsule was created in 1991, as part of Banting’s 100th birthday celebrations, it was created by the Youth Delegates for the International Diabetes Federation. So they met, the Congress that year was in Washington, DC. And all these delegates were asked to bring something to create this time capsule. And then as we understand it, the next, we have this time capsule created, where was it to be housed? And as we were told, the initial thought was, it would go back to Europe where the IDF headquarters were, but the Youth Delegates objected to that and said, “No, there’s a flame burning for us in Canada. And when that flame is extinguished, that means we’re free from this disease. So whoever frees us should be the ones to open it.” And so that’s how we ended up with it. And we’re very honored to be the caretakers of that.
Stacey Simms 15:51
Another thing that I’ve seen just looking, you know, virtually at the museum, another thing I wanted to ask you about was the dear Dr. Banting. I don’t want to call it an exhibit, but maybe it is. And that’s something that people can do virtually still. Right?
Grant Maltman 16:04
That’s correct. So this is an exhibit we created, gosh, just under 10 years ago now. And it turned into something we never expected at all. It set, it started off. It’s in Dr. Banting’s bedroom. And this is a very important room for people. We have people from around the world, what, 85 countries a year, everything from visiting scientists to people affected by diabetes and sort of general tourists. And the room’s a very emotional room. Everybody wants to sneak a touch with Dr. Banting’s bed and then you know, we tell them it’s okay. And we get their pictures taken with it. And we were thinking about, it’s about three quarters away through the tour and and we’re just trying to capture some stats where people were from, what did they think of the tour? What do they think the museum, but to our surprise, the initial letters, weren’t, you know, “Tour guide talk too long,” or “I really liked the wallpaper.” It’s in, which is what I thought we would get, a sneaky guest book. But instead it turned into, “Dear Dr. Banting, thank you for giving me an opportunity to lead a fulfilling life to my family,” or “Dear Dr. Banting, this is the site of the greatest moment for all children with Type One, my daughter diagnosed last week at age two deserves to live. Thank you for your gift. They’re written in many languages, as I said, medical students and researchers talk about being inspired. We had, you know, as I say some of the world’s leading physicians and diabetes specialists around the world talk about how being here makes them a better physician, researcher, and advocate for their patients and really speaks to the importance of place. And the letters are no different than the letters Banting received when he was alive and in the 20s and 30s. And we have a wonderful collection of those and, and we do feature them now on an online exhibit called Dear Dr. Banting on our website. But I think what’s really interesting is this sense of community that these letters create, often we’ll have people you know, I don’t want to write a letter, but they’ll go to read the ones that we have stacked. And of course we get too close and they all fall and all sudden everyone panics, “Oh, I’ve wrecked the exhibit.” And as they pick them up, you can’t help but read them more closely and realize, “Oh, this is what I want to say.” And then they’ll leave their own letter. You know, “Dear Dr. Banting, this is my 16th diaversary, I just want to let you know I’m alive and well.” And in some sense, it’s almost as if these people think or believe thqt Doctor Banting is going to see these letters, even though he’s been gone for over eighty years. And the best example was a family visiting from the UK and I can’t remember their last name. Well, let’s just say it’s Smith, but it was, you know, dear, along the lines of, “Dear Dr. Banting, just want to let you know, our daughter who’s celebrating her 15th diaversary is doing well. Thank you for your gift to her and the world. Signed the Smiths of England.” Of course, because they didn’t want him to be confused with the Smiths of Nova Scotia. So as a public historian, this is one of the things I’m most proud of, that we’ve done here because it really gives us this sense of community, this sense of hope, and allows people to know that they’re not alone and sometimes people with diabetes, there is that sense of you know, you’re in this alone and when you see other individuals and other families saying, thinking, and feeling the same things that you are, it does make managing your diabetes a little bit better that day.
Stacey Simms 19:41
Grant, how did you come to work there? Tell us a little bit about you.
Grant Maltman 19:44
It’s a funny story, actually. Um, so in London, Ontario, we actually have a Sir Frederick Banting secondary school, and I went to that and when the museum was first opening in the early 1980s, I was on the school student council and was, a history, you know, a history buff, future budding historian even then and so I convinced the student body that we should be supporting this museum in its inception. And then it was about 10 years later, I actually became the first paid employee of the place. So I sort of sowed the seeds at that point. And it was, for me personally, like every young person started out on a career, this is going to be you know, your three to five years and then move on to the national site, but the collection and the people that you get to meet and the stories and the opportunities that I’ve had here, you know, I’ve met governor-general, and foreign ambassadors and dignitaries who want to come and see this story and understand the story. It’s been a very rewarding place. My cat had diabetes, was on two injections a day. So yeah, it was a black cat. And, and it was really, it was really interesting. We actually have an exhibit in the museum called the Faces of Diabetes. So it’s, it’s some famous Canadians and Americans with Type One. And we threw in, threw in a cat too, because, you know, people treat their cats, dogs, horses with insulin. So it, it can be a very powerful and emotional place. So throwing the cat in makes for, to lighten the mood a bit for people, but it’s a wonderful place to be, wonderful collection, and it’s just filled with stories.
Stacey Simms 21:22
What are you all doing this year, and you know, leading up to the anniversary, the 100 years of insulin?
Grant Maltman 21:27
Well, like everyone else in the world, we’ve been hit with COVID. So we, our 100th anniversary started last year, so in October, on October 31, with the 100th anniversary of the idea, like everybody else, we’d moved things online, so just virtual, social media posts, and what have you. We were able to have an event in November on World Diabetes Day, which also happens to be Dr. Banting’s birthday. And so on that day, and we do this every year, we will read these, a selection of these “Dear Doctor Banting” letters, and we unveiled these commemorative bricks that people are purchasing from around the world that helps to support the museum. This year, we are working, as things are starting to reopen, we are working on an exhibit telling the life and story of one of Dr. Banting’s patients, who’s one of his first patients so we have his first insulin vial from 1922. His patient that I’m sure many of your listeners know in the United States, Ted Ryder, who’s Banting’s last surviving patient, went from six weeks to live in 1922 and died in 1993. So we’re going to do an exhibition on his story. We’ve just, Canada Post just unveiled a commemorative stamp and first day cover to commemorate the 100th anniversary. So we’ve been actively involved with that. We have a Heritage Minutes coming out, Historic Canada produces these sort of little one minute vignettes on Canadian history. And on Monday, we will be unveiling that the discovery of insulin. So we’re pretty excited about that. And then we’re going to be continuing on through the next two years with different 100th anniversary celebrations. So we have in the works, an exhibit called Diabetes Ink (Ink), featuring diabetes related tattoos, which has been a really interesting project to work on. Initially, people you know, the first tattoos that I saw when visitors came through would be the medical alert bracelets, which were always incredible. And then the inspirationals, you know, the symbols, I’m greater than my highs and lows. But now we’re seeing these tattoos from across North America and Europe, where you have Banting and Best busts on people’s calves to Flame of Hope on shoulder to insulin molecules. Parents are, who would never thought in a million years they’d have a tattoo, are getting the Dexcom on their arm because their son or daughter has one. So show them in support for them to kiddos. So that’s going to be an interesting one, we close out our 100th actually in 2023 to commemorate Banting being our first Nobel Prize winner and it’ll be the 100th anniversary of that, so we have a lot of things in progress as things start to open up, but like everyone else, trying to put as much online as we can, so people can can come and experience the birthplace of insulin virtually.
Stacey Simms 24:29
Yeah, as my listeners are hearing this if they have a tattoo they want to show or a Dear Doctor Banting letter, is it all accessible online? Can they send you photos and things like that? Are you looking for more?
Grant Maltman 24:40
Yeah, they sure can. So the easiest way to send a photograph would be firstname.lastname@example.org and that comes to me and just, “Tattoo exhibit” and just a little you know two sentence blurb about yourself. But our hope is to do an in-person exhibit and online and we’ve done some bios, broken it down thematically, so we’re always looking for more, my ultimate goal is to actually have a tattoo artist in residence that summer for folks who want to do it. And of course, we’ll have the temporary tattoos for the parents who don’t want their eight year old getting a tattoo, which is completely understandable. And as the Dear Dr. Banting letters, if you visit our website and click on the Dear Dr. Banting exhibit, there is an opportunity to send us a letter there as well. And what we’ve been doing is printing them off. And so we have them here in the museum because people couldn’t visit during the anniversary. And then they’ll be put on display. And then we are working on getting them up online as well. So people can see them.
Stacey Simms 25:43
Grant, it’s interesting talking to you, because you know, you are an historian, you take care of a museum. But this is not just any museum, right? We’re not going there to see fossils and interesting art, just by talking about the letters. This is a museum about something that saved lives, changed lives, continues to save lives, when you come to work every day, are you thinking about that?
Grant Maltman 26:06
I do. And more I thought about it more this year than before. I think it’s, to tell a national story, it’s important work, there’s two ways to look at it. And this is one of things that we, that we say in our tour to our visitors and the importance of place. We’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin. 100 years later, we have better insulin, what we still don’t have is anything better than insulin. And that’s what makes this place so important. It’s why people come here, you know, we hear the words, like pilgrimage, we have people refer to us as a “Diabetes Mecca.” And it’s not just from from individuals or parents of children with diabetes, but these are people, everybody knows someone with diabetes now. And so this site and this moment is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago. For me, I think this is a great story to tell that Banting is and the discovery insulin is well known, but Banting’s not known well, and the story isn’t known well, we have that opportunity to share this continuing story. It’s not the most professional, but it’s a really neat place to be when you have some of the world’s leading scientists come here and thank you for having this place open. It’s pretty humbling. But it also also speaks to its relevance. And I think it’s a it’s a real honor to do that. And I think what is also interesting, put this story in perspective, and this is this COVID world we’re living in right now, the parallels 100 years ago, the race to find this vaccine for COVID, this race to find what they thought would be cured by at least this treatment, this discovery of insulin, the parallels are all there and to go from idea to Nobel Prize in three years, again sort of draws that that similarity with how quickly we came up with a vaccine today. There’s a really neat quote, and Michael Bliss’s book Banting: A Biography, which is 30 years old, but still sort of the gold standard out there. He writes, “Banting and Best were leading and won a race they didn’t know they were in,” because that many people you know, there were people around the world, looking for this treatment, this theory that Banting brought to the table wasn’t entirely new, it was a different approach. But lots of people were working on this. And these four men: Banting, Best, Collip and McCloud were the right four men in the right place at the right time to take this from the beaker to the bedside, literally in record speed.
Stacey Simms 28:40
Hey, everybody, Stacey jumping in here. This is obviously where we were putting the cameras on. And as I mentioned, there is a video of this on YouTube, if you want to go over later and take a look, you will definitely get the full idea if you keep listening. And I hope you keep listening, because I have an idea of how we can contribute to the efforts of Banting House’s 100 year anniversary celebration, so definitely stay tuned. But here is Grant taking us on the tour. Grant, before I let you go. Let’s put our video on real quick. But as you listen, a lot of times when I do zoom interviews, we turn off the video because it’s better for the audio, it’s easier on the bandwidth. And also because I didn’t put lipstick on today. But I didn’t realize Grant was going to be in the bedroom, in Banting’s room and I thought we cannot let this go. So I’m going to see if I can just make your room a little bit bigger. Let’s see. There we go. I don’t know if it’ll record like that. But we’ll give it a try. Can you give us a quick little tour of where you are? Would you mind? We might lose the audio a little bit but I think it’ll be worth it.
Grant Maltman 29:38
Sure, okay, so well, over my shoulder is the 100th anniversary stamp. I am on a laptop. So I’ll sort of disconnect this as this sort of, we’ve turned it into a bit of a makeshift studio. So as I tried to show, so there’s the stamp that the first day cover, and let me just, I’ll stand up and let everyone sort of get a picture of the room, it’s behind me like a laptop selfie. So that’s Dr. Banting’s bed there. And so we’ve had scientists from around the world, come to sheepishly lean against it, because you’re not supposed to touch anything in a museum. And so I’ll say, well it’s not the mattress it’s the frame, and they’ll grab the foot of the bed. And while it’s difficult to see, the finish has been rubbed off, because they’re all rubbing, I want to take a picture of it. I actually had one scientist lay down on the bed, and you know, which you might have crossed the line doing that, you know, we’ll let you sit on it. But when he sits up, he says, “Now I’ve been here, maybe now I can finish this work. I’ve been doing diabetes research for more than 30 years.” Of course, I’m tempted to say, “Well, you know, if you think a power nap is going to help, sure I’ll turn off the light and close the door for you.” But that really speaks to how important this place is and what it means to people. Couplequick stories. So I had a woman from England come through, senior citizen, cultural tourists. Our visitors will drop hints as to how they’re affected by diabetes, you know, they either flat out say it or “I’m on the pump” or what have you. And she gets in the room. And she starts getting emotional, as emotional as an English woman would allow in public, you know, pretty stiff upper lip. And so I asked her why it’s affecting her. And she says I’ve waited 20 years to come to Canada to see this house because someone had sent her the biography. And she says the controversy over the issue of credit and the discovery of insulin means nothing to my family, because Dr. Banting woke up in this room with this idea the day he did means insulin was discovered the day it was, which means that arrived in England the day it did, which meant my father who was at that hospital, that received for those early batches, was able to get his first shot, pregnant pause, which meant 15 years later, I was born. I got to meet the missing generation because you think of those in early 20s, insulin limited supply. And it’s, it literally was pick and choose, you know, you’ve been on this diet for a few weeks, I don’t really feel well, I’m not sure this child’s waking up tomorrow. So we’ll give them that shot. So for me, I mean, I’ve been telling that story for, you know, almost 30 years, I still get goosebumps doing it. But probably the most emotional was a young mom, maybe 30, first child, 10 months old is diagnosed with Type One, so youngest in southwestern Ontario, just being a new mom is overwhelming enough. And then gets hit with this. And this is pre-internet. So this is and this isn’t the era where you know you diagnosed at breakfast you’re home at supper. This is, you’re in the hospital for about a week. As a parent, you’re taking the classes, stacks and stacks of reading. Every intern, here’s my first paper, you know, youngest in southwestern Ontario. And so she just needs to get out. So she comes to Diabetes Canada, what’s the glucometer, what you know, what have you and like any parent is just, you want everything. And she wants to tour the museum too, which we offer and you know, some is gonna be retained. And some it’s just trying to make sense of the world. And she comes to the bedroom, and she sits on the bed and just lets go, and that’s okay. If you’re crying, we get it. You’re not the first person, you’re not going to be the last, you take all the time you need, my office is just down the hall.. So about 10 minutes later, still here crying. So you do (indistinct). So you just bring a box of Kleenex, and come into the room and about a foot and a half, two feet inside the room and she just looks up at me, stands up, deep breath, instantly dries up. “No, thank you, I will never shed another tear on this. My child is going to live because what happened in this room all those years ago,” push point…here, man, here’s the keys you can lock up when you’re ready to go. As I say 100 years later, we have better insulin, what we don’t have anything better than insulin. And that’s why this room is so important to so many people. And why for me, it makes this job so satisfying, because I get to meet these people for whom this story means the most to and as important and in effect on.
Stacey Simms 33:48
It is so much more than a museum, a typical museum. It’s unbelievable. Well, Grant Maltman, thank you so much for spending so much time with me and for taking us into the room. I hope to see it someday in person.
Grant Maltman 34:00
My pleasure. Until you can get here, bantinghousenhs.ca, please pop in and drop us a note we’d love to hear from you.
Stacey Simms 34:08
You got it.
You’re listening to Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.
Stacey Simms 34:20
More information about Banting House and everything he talked about. How about that tattoo exhibit? I mean so much here. That is all at Diabetes-connections.com. And I know some of you have already visited Banting House, I’d love to hear about those experiences. I’ll put a little post up in Diabetes Connections the group and maybe we can talk about who’s visited and who’s been there and who sent their tattoo pictures and that sort of thing. All right, in just a moment. I want to talk to you about our own version of dear Dr. Banting. But first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dexcom. And let’s talk for a second about Control-IQ, the Dexcom G6 Tandem pump software program. When it comes to Benny’s numbers, you know I hardly expect perfection. I just want him happy and healthy. And I have to say, Control-IQ has exceeded my expectations. Benny is able to do less checking and bolusing and is spending more time in range. His A1C since we switched has been his lowest ever. This is in a teenager, the time when I was really prepared for him to be struggling and his sleep is better too. With basal adjustments possible every five minutes, the system is working hard to keep him in range. And that means we hear far fewer Dexcom alerts, which means everyone is sleeping better. I am so grateful for this, of course individual results may vary. To learn more, go to Diabetes-connections.com and click on the Dexcom logo.
Alright, here’s where I need your help. While Grant was talking about the Dear Dr. Banting exhibit, I got an idea. And I want to know what you think. I will put this in the Facebook group as well. How about we do our own Diabetes Connections version of Dear Dr. Banting, would you be up for sending me audio versions of this in your own voice? In other words, you’d write a short letter, maybe you know, less than 30 seconds or a minute of audio where you say, Dear Dr. Banting, thank you, or this is why I’m so grateful. Or here’s what I’d like you to know, or whatever you would write in a letter to put in the exhibit. I think it would be really interesting to have an audio version of this and I talked to Grant about it off the year, he’s really up for anything. I’m not sure that he would put it in the museum. I mean, he didn’t make any promises. But I do think that he was really interested in hearing more about it. And if we start now, I’d love to play this for the month of November. So let’s mull it over. Help me out with it. Let me know what you think. But I’m gonna get started on this. There are many ways for me to capture your audio that are easy. I’m actually going to be traveling to conferences, which is so much fun to think about. Maybe I can get some audio there. But we’ve done this before where people record on their phones and send in to me, it’s very easy stuff. So if you’re up for it, let’s do it.
Before I let you go, this weekend on Saturday, I’m at Camp Nejeda. Well, it’s virtual, but I am going to be talking at their Survive and Thrive event for adults with Type one all about having your voice heard, getting the message out, advocating for yourself. I love doing presentations like this. So that is this Saturday, there’s still time to register. I’ll put a link in the show notes. And right now the next event on my calendar is Friends for Life in July. There is more to come. I’m hearing from some organizations that are starting to kind of tiptoe back into in-person events. If that’s you, and you’d like me to come and speak, please let me know, I have some new presentations. I’m going to be kind of adding onto the website and talking about some things that I’m doing in addition to the World’s Worst Diabetes Mom. I have some fun presentations. So let me know. And of course, if you’re planning farther into 2021 or 22 now, oh my goodness, I’m working a little bit more in the podcasting field. And I may have an announcement about that before this episode airs. So watch me on social, but I’ve got some podcast events coming up too, one in Nashville and one in Arizona. So boy, it’s amazing to think about traveling again. It’s gonna feel weird the first couple times. But man, I am ready. I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely ready.
Thank you as always to my editor John Bukenas from Audio Editing Solutions. Thank you so much for listening. In the News every Wednesday now at 4:30 live on Facebook, make sure to join me for that and then we turn it around for any podcast episodes later in the week. I’m starting to release those now on Friday. So watch for those here as well. I’m Stacey Simms. I’ll see you back here in just a couple of days. Until then, be kind to yourself.
Diabetes Connections is a production of Stacey Simms Media. All rights reserved. All wrongs avenged.