I was born in Roanoke, VA in 1939. In the early months of 1945 I had measels, chicken pox and mumps. Shortly after that I began showing all the classic symptoms of Type 1 diabetes. I lost my appetite and a lot of weight. I was skin and bones and very sickly. My parents took me to three doctors and not one of them had a clue. Not much was known about diabetes back then. Two of the doctors prescribed a tonic to help restore my appetite. The tonic was probably much like the old “snake oil” remedies that were often prescribed in the old days. A fourth doctor saw me in September of that year and he had my blood tested for sugar. My Type 1 was finally diagnosed on 9/15/45 just 5 days after my 6’th birthday. He referred us to a fifth doctor who was supposedly the “expert” on diabetes in the area. I was taken out of first grade and hospitalized. I was given the old beef/pork insulin. I started gaining weight and my health improved. Before I left the hospital I was even eating normally. That fifth doctor was the doctor in charge and he told my parents to never give me sugar or food that contained a lot of sugar. That’s all the advice he gave them. Nothing was said about carbs. I did not learn that I should eat a low carb diet until the early 1980’s. My health was much better and I continued going to school. I remained very skinny for many years but the beef/pork insulin was keeping me alive and relatively healthy.
My blood sugar was tested every six months. The only testing we did at home was for urine sugar. We used the old Benedict’s solution with 8 drops of urine added and then the mixture was boiled on top of the stove. The liquid then changed color to reveal the amount of sugar present. We used a glass syringe that had to be sterilized each morning by being boiled along with the metal needle that was twisted onto the end of the syringe. The needle was frequently dull and had to be sharpened with a whet stone prior to being boiled. The needle was much longer than needles on today’s disposable syringes. The injection was made into the muscle on top of my upper legs or on my arms.
As improvements were made in the beef/pork insulins I showed some weight gain and I actually weighed what I was supposed to weigh for the first time since well before my diagnosis. I did very well in school and completed 6 years of college. I earned a BS in math at Roanoke College and an MS in statistics at Va. Tech in 1963. I became a math and statistics teacher at the college level. I taught for 34 years and retired in 1997 when I was 57. I was having trouble with my diabetes and had to retire a few years earlier than I had intended. After starting the Humulin insulins in the early 1990’s I started gaining weight. By the late 1990’s I had gained 57 pounds and I was diagnosed with insulin resistance in 2000. I had increased my insulin dosages by 40% to compensate. I started taking Avandia about that time and it helped me very much. My dosages returned to normal. I was then given Humalog and it worked very well. The newer insulin, the Avandia and the carb counting made me healthy again. I test my blood sugar 12-15 times per day. I want to discover highs/lows before they become bad so I can take care of them more easily. I had A1c’s below 6.0 for several years prior to starting pumping on 6/19/07. I had a rrough start on my pump and my A1c in Nov., 07 was 6.1. I had scar tissue problems last month but now everything is going smoothly. Pumping is fantastic!
I have asked several doctors how I can be healthy with only a few minor complications after 62 years of diabetes. No doctor has had a satisfactory answer. My present endo says no one knows but there are other diabetics with good health after 60+ years of diabetes. Perhaps I have good genes. Perhaps I will never know the answer to this question in my lifetime. I am enjoying my lif to the fullest and I am going strong. I have been happily married for 43 years and my wife and I have two sons and two grandchildren none of whom are diabetic.