Saturday, July 7, 2012

What is it like ...

To be a Type 1 Diabetic who is over 60 years old?

So over the past week I hit on what it is like to be the mother of a type 1 diabetic, the father of a type 1 diabetic, and today we have some interviews from 2 amazing men who have lived with type 1 diabetes for 30+ years.

These men have seen all the changes that have come about in diabetes treatment and management, they have seen the DOC come into fruition with the help of the internet, and they drive others to know that you/your child CAN live a long healthy life despite the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.

Richard is the author of Beating The Odds: 64 Years Of Diabetes Health in which he tells the story of how he was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the 1940s, and the steps he needed to take to overcome the problems which this caused. You can purchase his book online through Amazon

Here is his interview with me ...

Q: Your first name
A: Richard

Q: How old are you?
A: 72

Q: For the management of your Type 1 Diabetes are you on an insulin pump (If on pump which one) or multiple daily injections?
A: I use the Medtronic Revel pump, model #523

Q: What made you choose this method for management?  
A: I chose to pump in 2007 because I was having too many highs and lows with my blood sugar tests. My A1c was very good, but the trauma to my body caused by those highs and lows resulted in retinopathy and neuropathy. These complications, although mild, were helped by pumping since there were far fewer highs and lows. My retinopathy disappeared. The neuropathy is still present, but the pain is no longer there.

Q: How comfortable are you with managing your diabetes?
A:  I have been a type 1 diabetic for 66 years, and do not remember much of my life before being diagnosed. My diabetes is an integral part of my life, and I am very comfortable with my diabetes management.

Q: What has changed the most in regards to diabetes management since you were diagnosed?
A: My diagnosis occurred in 1945, and EVERYTHING has changed since that time. Going from animal insulins to modern day synthetic insulins, from testing urine to testing blood sugar, and from one injection per day without paying any attention to carbs, to carb counting and using basal/bolus control. Maybe the biggest change has been going from not knowing other diabetics and having very little information to help me, to now having wonderful online communities and so much knowledge at my fingertips.

Q: What does a typical day look like in your household in regards to diabetes management?
A: A typical day? Careful record keeping with 12-15 glucose checks, carefully counting carbs and insulin dosing while keeping exercise and other activities in mind. My days are comfortable and enjoyable, except when the occasional highs and lows occur, but I know how to handle those.

Q: What does a typical day’s diet look like?
A: My diet usually has 30-35 carbs for breakfast' lunch and dinner. I also have two or three snacks with 15-20 carbs each. I usually avoid cereals, grains with fast acting carbs, rice, and other foods that are known to raise my blood sugar very fast. I eat whole grains, and small portions of pasta, and other foods that are known to give me a fast rise in my blood sugar.

Q: What tips or advice would you give to a newly diagnosed Type 1 Diabetic children/teen/adult?
A: I advise the parents of newly diagnosed diabetic children to choose an endocrinologist who works well with them and the children. It is so important to have a doctor who knows diabetes well, and who gives good advice. Parents should read books and join online parents support groups. Working with experienced parents of diabetic children can be a tremendous asset. All newly diagnosed diabetics should get to know other diabetics who are experiencing the same problems. Support groups in their local communities, and online, are very helpful. There are many very good books written that can also be a great help.

Q: Besides a cure what 1 thing would you like to see researchers working towards and why?
A: All type 1 diabetics, their loved ones, and the parents of diabetic children are hoping for a cure. So much research has been done that suggests that a cure might be possible, but time after time the research has not produced what we are all looking for. There are many discoveries like the insulin pump, the continuous glucose monitor, and the soon to be automatic pancreas that help so much, but none of them are cures. I hope an actual cure will be seen in the not too distant future.

I hope that researchers will determine why some of us long term type 1 diabetics have lived so long and are so healthy, without serious complications. The Joslin Medalist Study has examined more than 700 type 1 diabetics, all of whom were diagnosed at least 50 years ago. It is hoped that the factors that have enabled these individuals to live long, healthy lives, will be found. If the factors are found, then maybe a treatment can be devised that will help younger type 1 diabetics to also have longer and healthier lives.


Q: What would you like to see more of out of the Diabetes Online Community?
A: The diabetes online community (DOC) is wonderful, and so much can be learned there. The thing that bothers me most about the DOC is the occasional arguments between individuals. There was a bitter debate between type 1 and type 2 diabetics on one of the biggest online communities. It was called the Civil War among diabetics, and written up in some major newspapers. The website that sponsored that debate lost some members, and I do not post there very often now. It left very bitter feelings for me, even though it had been my favorite diabetes website at one time. This kind of thing is unnecessary, and should always be avoided. There have been some debates like this in Facebook groups too, but things seem to have improved in that respect during the past year. 

Q: What is your favorite thing about the Diabetes Online Community and why?
A: My favorite thing about the DOC is that there are many very experienced diabetics, and parents of diabetic children, who take the time to reach out to help their fellow diabetics and parents in so many ways. These individuals are an important part of the foundation of the DOC. 

Q: What is your least favorite thing about the Diabetes Online Community and why?
A: My least favorite things about the DOC include the harsh comments made by some people, the occasional offering of advise that is so incorrect, and the people who are advertising so called cures and other inappropriate spam.

Q: What 1 thing would you like to see discussed in the Diabetes Online Community that is not discussed enough?  
A: In my opinion, the things that we 30 million diabetics in the US need most is more support from the government, and a widespread recognition of our plight, along with much educating of the general public, so there would not be so many myths, and so much misunderstanding about diabetes in general. The DOC has done much to help in this respect, but only a small portion of the 30 million diabetcs in our country visit the DOC. We need to reach out and make the vast majority of the diabetics out there be aware of our existence, so they too can benefit from the online experience.  

You can read more about Richard and his life with type 1 diabetes by reading his book Beating The Odds: 64 Years Of Diabetes Health

I appreciate the time he took to help  me with this multi-segment blog and I hope you all are liking the posts so far .. Plenty more to come.

1 comment:

Richard said...

Thanks for the interview, Katrina! I hope to see other interviews on your Insulin Princess blogsite.