About the Artist

Kathy McNamara lives in Southern California with her family and her hearing assistance dog. She enjoys riding her bicycle along the ocean and has taken many years of studio art classes. Kathy finds comfort and empowerment through her art. After a decade-long struggle for answers, Kathy was diagnosed with maternally inherited diabetes and deafness (MIDD) and the rare mitochondrial disease MELAS (mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes).

MIDD and MELAS are multisystem disorders caused by a gene mutation that affects mitochondrial function. These diseases encompass a wide range of symptoms, some of which can be very serious, from low energy levels, short stature, low BMI, and migraines to diabetes, hearing impairment, maculopathy, stroke-like episodes, lactic acidosis, seizures, and cardiac issues. As maternally inherited diseases, MIDD and MELAS present unique challenges with no known cure or specific treatments and require individualized care.

Prior to her retirement, Kathy enjoyed a successful 30-year career as an engineer. Her engineering background not only gave her a problem-solving mindset but also inspired a methodical approach to coping with her health challenges. Kathy uses a closed-loop system to monitor her glucose and deliver insulin, and she takes a once-weekly semaglutide injection to reduce her insulin resistance. She also follows a strict very-low-carbohydrate diet.

On the Cover: “Mitochondrial Diabetes”

The following is a description of the artwork on the cover of this issue of Diabetes Care, titled “Mitochondrial Diabetes,” as written by the artist, Kathy McNamara: We run low on ATP. Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell. We are rare, 1 in 4,000. We are often misdiagnosed. Mitochondrial diabetes is caused by the m.3243a>g pathogenic variant. We often have low nitric oxide, low arginine, and low citrulline. Here’s a few clues: we may seize, appear to stroke, slur, and drop. We may be deaf, and not hear you. Our BMIs are low. This 3243 mutation causes the neurometabolic genetic diseases MIDD and MELAS. Since there is no treatment, no standard of care, relying on individualized care is the norm. While there may not be any cure or treatment to fix our mitochondria, diabetes is actually something that doctors can do something about. An endocrinologist who steps up to help us can make all the difference.

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