I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of fifteen; this was back in 1975 the so-called “Olden Days” as the kids tell me, I was a normal teenager, very active and worked hard when not in school. I started with the usual diabetes symptoms, excessive thirst, going to the bathroom a lot, and I lost about thirty pounds which is quite noticeable on a 15 year old, not knowing a lot about diabetes just prolonged the diagnosis, I was taken to see the doctor when I got so weak I could hardly do anything much less stay awake, after a couple visits the small town country doctor tells me “Jimmy, You Have Sugar” he went on to tell me that I was his first diabetic patient and he would learn all he could to help me, I was given a prescription for some pills he said might help but that shots were inevitable.
The first several years were very hard due to the lack of knowledge on the condition, after finding out the pills just wouldn’t work I began injections with NPH U-100 N and R insulin that was made from beef and pork insulin, my new diet consisted of “No Sugar” so no more cokes, cookies or anything sweet, cokes were substituted for fruit juices which did not help my blood glucose levels. I tested my urine sugars at home although I didn’t know why at the time, my insulin doses were decided by the doctor when I had an appointment to see him and my diet even though it was no sugar was high in starches and fruits that may be healthy but is not good for someone with a high blood sugar level.
Words of wisdom I received and appreciate from that country doctor who diagnosed me with diabetes: his answer to a question from me was “Jimmy you will know far more about diabetes than I ever will because you are Living Diabetes and I am not” I respected this answer better than if he had said I don’t know.
The NPH Insulin worked well for me in spite of the things against me, then all of a sudden this type of insulin was no longer made, I was switched to a synthetic Humilin insulin which works well for some but did not for me, it was almost like I was not using any insulin at all on most days, my blood glucose levels were extremely high for quite a while resulting in very high A1c level, this lack of proper control of my blood sugars was the beginning of my diabetic complications.
After about twenty eight years of no complications I began getting the burning and sharp pains in my hands and feet which are signs of peripheral neuropathy which I was diagnosed with soon after, this and a few TIA strokes resulted in muscle weakness and loss of sensation in all limbs which soon ended my working career, I am now retired disabled. I check my blood sugars several times a day and my wife injects me with insulin before each meal, I also take an injection of Lantus every morning which is a base line insulin that keeps my blood sugars level along with Novolog injections before meals. The injections and medications have become part of my daily routine and although not something I prefer to do, it is something I have to do if I am going to live a somewhat normal life.
The diabetes care was very limited then, knowledge and education was kept under your breath because it almost seemed as if you had to be ashamed of being diabetic, I remember hiding to take my insulin injections and still feel that old fear of someone seeing you when I get my supplies out but that was then, now we have good education and new treatment options suited for whatever type of diabetes you have.
My wife and I fight this condition daily in an attempt to control the glucose levels and prevent more complications, all in all we are winning, but this is a battle we will always have if I want to have a long life. Thirty-five years since my diagnoses has taught me that you can never stop learning because the rules and condition of your body is always changing and if you want a long life then you will always have this fight.