College Project....Diabetes

I have a grandniece who has graduated from high school, and she has started college. She was given an assignment in her Student Development class.

Her project is to identify obstacles in her own life that have kept her from succeeding at something, and to identify solutions she chose in overcoming them. Then she is to find a real-world example of someone who has encountered an obstacle in his or her life, and research how that person overcame it. The final step in the project is to give a brief presentation on the person she chose to research.

My grandniece knows that I have faced some really difficult obstacles, and she asked me to be her subject. I was pleased to participate.

Here are the questions she asked:

  1. Throughout your life with diabetes, what would you say your chief obstacle has been?

  2. After you were diagnosed as a young child, what emotions were in the forefront of your mind?

  3. How do you think the responsibility you carried for yourself as a child affected your personality and maturity?

  4. What time in your life has been the hardest to live with diabetes?

  5. Would you say that you have “overcome” most of your obstacles at this point?

  6. What has supported you/given you hope/comfort during the most difficult times?

Here are my replies to her questions:

  1. During my 73 years with type 1 diabetes, I have had very little guidance from a reputable source. None of my doctors seemed to really understand my diabetes very well. I have learned more from talking to other diabetics, and I have taught them many things, too. A lack of knowledge about diabetes during my earliest years was my chief obstacle, and that is still a problem today

  2. After diagnosis in 1945, when I was 6 years old, my family knew very little about diabetes. We did not know there were major complications that might be caused by the disease. My doctors did not mention that until I was 30 years old. Ignorance was bliss, and diabetes seemed to be nothing more than an aggravation. I did not like having to take injections of insulin, and I was not supposed to eat anything containing sugar. I avoided many activities that might cause me to have very low blood sugar, and cause insulin reactions (hypoglycemia). I was different, and I was ignored by many classmates in school. That weighed heavily on my mind.

  3. I developed a rather withdrawn personality, and had very few friends. I did, however, complete six years of college, and I taught mathematics at the college level for many years. My diabetes did not keep me from having a very successful and fulfilling life.

  4. When I was 30 years old, I learned about the possible complications that many diabetics could have. Blindness due to eye damage, kidney failure, amputations of feet or legs caused by sores that would not heal, and other problems caused by nerve damage were side effects that many diabetics were experiencing back then. I learned that my life expectancy was not good. I had a wife and two young children at that time, and I was so afraid that I might not live much longer. I thought I might not live long enough to give my family the support they needed. One of my doctors told me I should prepare my will and be prepared for an early death. That was the hardest time of my life, while living with diabetes.

  5. Eventually I overcame my depression, and I had a very good life with my wife and sons. I never developed any of those potential diabetes complications. I saw my sons mature, and become very successful in their own lives. There were no longer any obstacles in my lifetime.

  6. My wife has given me the support I have needed. Our 54 years of marriage has been so wonderful. She developed a very good understanding of my life with diabetes, and she has helped me every step of the way, whenever I needed her.
    I have also joined many diabetes support groups online. I now have many friends who have diabetes, and many of them have young diabetic children. They are inspired to know that I have lived so long with type 1 diabetes, and they now have hope that they and their children can also have long, healthy and happy lives without serious complications.

My grandniece will present her project in college on October 15. I hope that her teacher will be pleased with her report.


A fascinating story: thanks for sharing. I too remember the old days when hypoglycemic episodes were called ‘insulin reactions.’ I suspect the name was changed to take the blame off the drug and put it on the patients where the medical profession and Big Pharma think it belongs!


I don’t know it it’s an obstacle, but for me it is very sad. That is, the almost complete lack of spontenanity in my life for the last 41 years. I go through a mental checklist before almost everything I do. What’s my BG? Where is it going? Do I need to eat something before or during my activity? Is there enough insulin in my pump to last? I was 21 at diagnosis, so I can still remember getting on my bike without a care in the world.

@Michelle43, I started when I was 6, so it became such an automatic thing for me. I grew up with it, and I don’t stop to think about it. It is a change of lifestyle for someone diagnosed at a more advanced age. Apparently though you are taking the necessary steps to have good diabetes management. That is the most important thing, in my mind. Good luck to you.


Where you see conspiracies and corporate machinations, I see a shift in terminology as the understanding of hypoglycemia in diabetes grew, as patients became more comfortable using the terms “hypoglycemia” or “lows” (part of a general adoption of medical terminology into the vernacular), and of course the need to differentiate from insulin reactions of the allergic kind.


I think my chief obstacle in dealing with diabetes has been me. When I was first diagnosed, at the age of 30, I know I went through all the stages of grief including anger, depression, and bargaining.

I’ve heard it said that processing grief and its related psychological issues can be put-off; sometimes for many years. I think I pretty well processed and progressed through the anger, denial, and depression to get to acceptance, but it took me much longer to be done with bargaining.

My original response to diabetes was to learn as much as I can about it and embrace the developing technology as it appeared. But I was always trying to limit my commitment to diabetes so that I had time and resources to live my real life.

It wasn’t until year 28 with diabetes that I finally struck the ultimate bargain with diabetes, the one that would put me on the best possible treatment path and placed no limits on my commitment. I gave (and still give) diabetes everything it demanded. I read incessantly online all I could find about treating diabetes, especially online comments from others who lived with the disease. I can honestly say that this is the point that I accepted ownership of my diabetes!

These efforts all paid off. I lost weight, cut my total daily insulin to less half, and restored metabolic sanity to my life. My glucose variability went way down and with it the daily drama of defending against serious hypos.

Once I realized that I could not bargain with my diabetes with one eye and half my heart looking longingly at what could have been had I not been diagnosed, my so-called real life. My real life is one with diabetes. I give it what it asks and work every day for my best health.

While I do have some secondary complications, my daily aggressive stance toward diabetes seems to have inoculated me against diabetes burnout. Paradoxically, it also also rewarded me with less diabetes drama and given me a lot of more time to enjoy my real life.


Thanks @Terry4, that is a very revealing and brave summary of your past. I am glad you are doing a very good job with your type 1, now.

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