Does the control of diabetes get any easier with age?

Hey !
I was just wondering, as I am 17 and been a diabetic for 12 years, does it get easier to control once you’ve ‘full grown’? Or is it just a complete pain all the time?
I have been on a waiting list for a year now ( I am beginning to think the waiting list is an imaginary list to shut me up) for an insulin pump but I have been on 4 injections a days for about 4 to 5 years now. Started off on 2 shots a day!
It would be great if I could get some feedback!
Ali :slight_smile:

Dumb question, Ali: Whose waiting list is it? I got my pump within 2 weeks of calling Animas. I have heard of people having trouble with their insurance giving approval, and that taking awhile, but that’s not really a waiting list. Who told you that you’re “on a waiting list”? Your doctor?
I did just check your profile and see you’re in Ireland. I know the most about the process in the U.S. Perhaps someone else in Ireland can chime in. Maybe there is a shortage on production of pumps there?

As for your question, managing your diabetes will definitely get easier when you get your pump. I didn’t get diabetes until I was MUCH older, so I’ll let the people who started as kids and are now adults give their opinions. I can think of a couple things. At your age peer pressure is a big influence and it’s hard to be different than your friends. That can influence a lot of things such as: your willingness to eat in a more diabetes friendly manner, your willingness to do lots of testing or even to bolus sometimes. If you party, that also can affect control. The importance of the whole peer thing fades as you get older which will help. The next thing I can think of still gives you another 10 years to deal with it. The teens and twenties are the times in your life that are most characterized by change: finishing high school, going to college, starting a career, building relationships,. perhaps getting married and having children. Maybe buying a house or relocating. Even if that is all good stuff it can be very stressful. Higher stress makes it harder to control blood sugars.

For me it’s gotten harder with the control but it really didn’t start all that bad for me til I hit the 25 year mark. Now my bs’s are al over the place. Yes it’s always a pian (even with the pump. Been pumping for 23 years now. Been a diabetic for 38 years. The pump made it easier for me with control though I was 10 when I got diagnosed) KEEP KEEPING ON!!! Hang in there YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

I think that older I get, the easier it gets. I have been at this 27 ½ years. Like Zoe said also, as you get older, you could care less what your friends think. If you are at a party or someplace, you don’t worry as much about pausing for a little bit to test or take insulin. I think part of it for me is that when I was younger, I felt invincible. It didn’t matter what I did, nothing bad was going to happen. I think as I get older, I realize I am not invincible and I need to do things to make sure I am still here tomorrow. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have days that I would like to give diabetes a good swift kick in the butt, but they don’t happen as often as they used to.

I am going to disagree with part of what Zoe said (sorry Zoe!) – her statement that “managing your diabetes will definitely get easier when you get your pump.” That is the case for some people, but it is not the case for everyone. It was not for me and I quit pumping after 8 months. My control actually got worse because I had so many site problems. My A1c went up and I was seeing highs almost every day with the pump. After my pump broke for the 2nd time in 8 months, I decided it was not worth it and I went back to MDI.

I think if people learned some of the stuff with MDI that they don’t learn until going on a pump, they would be more successful with MDI. I did stuff like basal testing, carb counting and knew what my correction factor was with MDI. A lot of people don’t learn stuff like that until they go on a pump. The pump does have advantages, but there is no guarantee that your life will be easier with it.

Hang in there, it will get better!

Sorry, Kelly, guilt y as charged of making sweeping generalities! I should have said “many people”.

I do agree with you that it’s a lot easier to transition to a pump if you already know and practice all those skills on MDI. I did so for 2 years before I got my pump and it definitely made the transition easier. People that only do the minimum on MDI and then expect the pump to “save them” are usually very surprised by all they have to learn.

Ali I am 84 years old a Navy veteran of WW2 it does not get easier with age. You still need to be vigilant test go to endo get A1C lowered mine is 6.0. Talk to friends. I live a good life and I refuse to let Diabetes get me down. I am cheerful helpful good attitude. Do not get discouraged. I do 4 shots of insulin a day my stomach looks like a pin cushion but so be it. Reed

You would probably be right if you said “most people” - I know I am not the only one but I am sure we are in the minority.

I don’t understand why people aren’t taught that stuff with MDI. I know there can still be problems but some stuff would be better. One thing I miss the most with the pump is the ability to sleep in - my alarm goes off at 7 to take insulin and if I don’t get up, I go high. You don’t have to worry about alarms with pumps!

Good question Ali. I was dx @ 14 and have had D for 37 years. I often think back to the early days and don’t remember thinking about the D as much as I do know. But we didn’t have meters, or pumps or as many food choices as we have now. The decisions were often made for us. A sliding scale was about the extent of the calculations we made. I’m also sure my parents carried many of these burdens for me at this time.

My college years were hard because I just wasn’t as responsible as I should be and PWD still didn’t have all that many tools to manage it with.

I’ve pumped since '92 and that made things much better. By the time I started pumping I was more mature, had a career and getting ready to marry.

I don’t know if I would consider “now” any harder, but I do put more effort into my care and I feel better because of it. I may get more frustrated because now (as opposed to the early days) I have a meter and can see the numbers.

So…to answer your question, I’m sure my control is better than the early days. I am more mature, have a more routine schedule, have a husband to share the struggles with, have devleoped better coping skills, have more tools to work with…and with all that there are still times when the numbers go whacky and I melt!!!

Teenage years are tough because of so many hormones/growth spurts!! The lovely monthly period will cause issues for you for some time to come. And I struggled with menopause and my numbers.

When I went to college a whole new world opened up to me. I could eat when I needed and what I needed, and check my bg whenever I needed and take shots whenever I needed, things I could never do beforehand because everything had to be scripted and regimented beforehand. I ended up with much better control than I had ever had in junior high and high school.

I saw my doses plummet around that time. In junior high and high school I needed 60-70 units a day; after going to college and getting into the groove of MDI my doses where half that. I don’t know whether that was teenage hormones no longer raging, or better adaptation of diet to insulin curves, or what, but it was dramatic.

I think it really depends on your personality. For a lot of young people, including myself, it is hard to transition from the structured environment of your current school and home regimen to the completely chaotic schedule of college. Transitions are probably the hardest. You can try to get yourself in a routine, but undoubtedly your life is going to change and your diabetes will too. Adaptability, persistence, and optimism are great traits to have when dealing with diabetes. Unfortunately, I don’t think they have prescriptions for those yet and I’m still trying to come by them the natural way. Oh well, good luck to you.

For me, it was hard for many years but has gotten easier since I’ve been exploring DOCs for a lot of years. Knowing how Diabetes affects me, carbs and the treatments and knowing what my test results mean plus knowing what to ask my Endo during my appointments.

For me, it has gone in phases. There were some periods of time that were difficult, and some that were easier. As a woman, I think that my natural hormonal fluctuations have played a significant role in my ability to control my D. Teen years were hard because I became quite insulin resistant. But in my 20s I started exercising a lot and went the other way, becoming very insulin sensitive. I’m still fairly insulin sensitive now and this has been tricky to manage (I do use a pump, and that has helped).

I think the bottom line is that, for me, there have been “easy” times and not-so-easy times. The factors that have affected control include how busy my schedule was, whether I was in school, amount of exercise, hormones, diet, and stress levels. The BIGGEST thing for me has been learning how to deal with each of these factors in terms of adjusting my insulin and what and how I eat.

I will say that whenever I had trouble controlling things and was on MDI, I generally had good success through increasing the numbero of shots I took each day. I don’t know why, but it seems like smaller doses of insulin spread throughout the day have always kept me more stable. Granted, this sometimes meant I was taking as many as 8 shots a day (between my basal insulin and my humalog), but it worked.

The pump has been really beneficial for me. I hope you get to try one out soon. How long do you have to wait? Anything you can do to speed up that process you should do because a pump can really make things easier. But you have to be committed to the extra work that goes into managing a pump.

Thanks everyone who has replied! Sorry I meant to say that the doctors tell me that there is a waiting list but because its been so long I’m beginning to think its imaginary :stuck_out_tongue: Don’t get me started on the Irish health system. Of course our government puts more money into buying themselves new cars, many houses here and abroad etc. than putting into places that really need the money like health care and education. I will leave that ‘rant’ for another day! I have a doctors appointment on monday so all going to plan they may enlighten me by giving me good news regarding a pump. I have learnt that the pump is not for everyone, but I have done a lot of research and I do think it could be for me! I find it very hard to inject myself 4 times a day - as a lot of people do! But I must give credit to my family and friends because they are great help to me! When I’m out with my friends they make sure I have taken my insulin and they have as much knowledge about diabetes as I do at this stage!
I will be going to University next year and in the coming months I will be transferred over to the adults diabetic clinic as I am still only 17 I think they see me still as a child, but they do not realise that I am quite mature for my age! So maybe it might be more helpful and hopefully I will meet people older there and share experiences!

Thanks again for your replies, they have really helped!
Ali :slight_smile:

You do sound mature for your age, Ali (and intelligent as well!) so it probably would be great to have some connection with other type 1’s your age or older. I have a Type 1 Women’s Group. Up until recently the ages ranged from early 20s to late 60s but recently I got an e-mail from a woman asking if her granddaughter could join the group. She is 16 and I can tell she is going to be a great addition to the group. As great as TuD is for feeling connected, live Type 1 groups are even more amazing if you can find one in your area! I don’t know if the JDRF is international. They are the ones that helped me start my group, and they are the organization at least here in the states that are geared to type 1. I’ve heard from a few young people who went to a “general diabetes group” and didn’t feel they could relate as the majority of the group were older type 2’s. In my group, the younger people and the older people blend together well because there is an even mix of ages and we are dealing with similar issues. I was even inspired to get my pump by my group because the majority of the members have pumps so it started seeming like the norm.

Thanks very much Zoe :slight_smile:

I am also on MDI. When I finally stopped the ancient Lente and Regular routine and went to Lantus and Humalog, my doctor said the routines of the Lantus and Humalog shots are the same as the pump; I think he meant you deal with the same issues. I’ve found that if you get a good doctor, know what you’re doing, whether you’re on MDI or a pump, and don’t freak out when things go wrong - most of them are fixable - it’s not too bad.

I would say diabetes has gotten better with age, but that’s only because of improved technology; I don’t think anyone would want to go back to Clinitest or even early glucometers that were about the size of a paperback book with test strips in a huge glass bottle or the highly esteemed exchange diet where you had to eat a little bit of everything to keep everything in balance with the peak insulins. Jeez!

A good attitude also does wonders for diabetes care.

I’ve had T1 for 30 years (since age 7). The simple answer to “does it get easier with age” is yes and no. Simple answer? Not quite! Yes, it gets easier as you become more accustomed to knowing your body and treatments, but later in life, if serious complications manifest themselves, that could make it difficult. Hopefully, the tighter control that research and technology has forced upon us in the last 20 years will mean that we won’t suffer the complications at age 70 (arbitrary number) that some 70-year old PWDs face today.

In your case, I think your age is making it harder for you. As you well know, during the teenage years, hormones go crazy. Not just insulin, all hormones. That makes it difficult to figure out exactly how your body will respond to certain foods, amounts of insulin, etc. Hopefully, in your 20s this will stabilize. Then there’s the social stigma of being a teen. Trying to fit in with groups of friends, pressure to drink alcohol or try other things, and all other temptations. For me, after school, when at a point where I held a steady job and had a pretty much routine, mundane, life, it did get easier.

Well said Bug. I was just so upset with the way the world rotated on that day I said litle but looks like you covered it all there. I sooo remember the days of not having all that iis avalible to us now.