#112 – Starve the Soul, Feed the Ego Part Four: Banting and Friends

Even though English Canada is suffering an epidemic of diabetes, Canada pays little to no homage to Toronto’s most important discovery – that diabetes isn’t an immediate death sentence. Before the concept of insulin injection came up, coming down with diabetes meant a protracted death by any number of horrific complications. Kidneys would fail, poisoning the body from the inside; feet would explode into necrotic ulcers as their owners mercifully lost sensation and then less-mercifully died of sepsis or secondary infection; people would go blind and basically die as if they were in a horror movie.

Putting an end to this being the inevitable fate of the diabetic is Canada’s single greatest achievement. Canada’s “peacekeeping traditions” (when they aren’t busy playing at white supremacy and slaughtering Somalian teenagers or simply ignoring reports from their own commanders, that is) are, as shown in the brackets, a little dicey for that honor. Fuck Vimy Ridge, fuck peacekeeping – in fact, fuck the Canadian Forces entirely on this one. Nothing Canada or Canadians have ever done has been as universally, globally positive as the discovery of insulin as therapy for diabetics.

I can’t express enough how important this discovery is. It’s like finding a cure for AIDS in terms of medical breakthrough. The mere concept that hormones could be injected for the purposes of medical treatment is an incredible lifesaver. From the use of steroids to stimulate recovery to new experimental techniques, the entire field of endocrinology owes its modern form to Banting, Best, Kollip, and MacLeod’s incredible discovery. And for this, Canada rated Banting below Pierre Trudeau (the guy who fucked up the pharmaceutical industry, inspired resentment in the West, and remains Canada’s most complex leader in terms of legacy) and Terry Fox (a guy who raised money to cure a disease he suffered from and inspired the creation of a charity-industry that 30 years on has amazingly accomplished little more than becoming incredibly rich).

I’m not saying that either Trudeau or Fox don’t deserve recognition. Far from it – if I was sans a leg the last thing I’d be thinking of is running across Canada. Running from Canada, perhaps, but that’s beside the point. But Banting, whose work is rightly recognized and hailed in the United Kingdom, is in Canada recognized with research chairs, elementary schools, and lectures named after him. This is a team that should be on Canada’s currency as the single highest achievement of any Canadian medical research – indeed, of any research of any kind – and 3/4s of the team behind the discovery aren’t even remembered with the “honorary” names and lectures. To the average Canadian, everyone who isn’t Banting is practically non-existent.

So, to the memories of James Collip, John Macleod, and Dr. Charles Best – Canada may have forgotten you or collapsed you into one person, but diabetics the world over and the physicians who care for them are eternally grateful for all of you.

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