Governor Bill Ritter paused on the last day of the General Assembly session last week to honor one of the best known Capitol icons — Clarence Miller.
Ritter presented Miller with a Colorado flag flown over the state Capitol.
“I present it to you as a friend of mine. Clarence and I go back to 1981. We were around the courthouse a lot,” said Ritter as he gave the flag to Miller.
Miller for many years was a fixture at the Capitol, interacting with legislators, lobbyists and the press corps. He pitched in wherever he could — often checking bill boxes, delivering mail and offering a friendly hello to passersby.
In recent years, health problems have forced Miller to stay away from his beloved Capitol. One of those issues is Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy — a painful and often under-diagnosed complication of diabetes that damages nerve endings throughout the body. Miller’s DPN has significantly reduced his mobility, forcing him to use a wheel chair to get around.
To recognize Miller’s struggle with DPN and to raise awareness about this condition, Sen. Lois Tochtrop, D-Thorton, and Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, in March sponsored Senate Joint Resolution 10-22, the Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy Awareness Resolution. Miller came to the Capitol to share his struggles with diabetes and DPN. Legislators got to witness how DPN has limited Miller’s mobility.
“As a nurse, I understand firsthand how painful and debilitating DPN and other complications of diabetes can be,” said Tochtrop in March. “I want to personally thank Clarence for sharing his challenges with DPN. Clarence has long been one of the bright spots here at the Capitol, and too many of us never knew he was suffering from this debilitating condition.”
Many diabetics live in significant pain and never realize that the cause is DPN. The state Department of Public Health and Environment estimates that more than 220,000 Coloradans have been diagnosed with diabetes and another 90,000 have the disease and don’t know it. On average, more than half of all diabetics — those with Type I, juvenile diabetes, or Type II, adult-onset — suffer from DPN.
DPN results in intense pain commonly described as aching, tingling, burning and numbness. It usually strikes a patient’s feet, but it can affect almost any part of the body. Neuropathy accounts for more diabetes-related hospitalizations than any other complication and is the leading cause of diabetic amputations. Each day in the United States, nearly 200 diabetics must have a foot, ankle or leg amputated to save their lives.
There is no cure, yet patients who are diagnosed accurately with DPN can be treated — if they know to talk to their health care providers.
To learn more about DPN, please visit the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy at www.foundationforpn.org.