Doug Klein: 50 Years With Diabetes

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March 2 will be the 50th diabetes anniversary of Doug Klein. In this interview, he shares his experience and how life can be for someone in a high stress job.

When did you get diagnosed? I was officially diagnosed on March 2nd, 1959 but was showing terrible symptoms in November of 1958.

What/when was your most current A1C?
My last A1C was a little elevated for me. 7.1 taken late last year.

What is a typical day like for you?
I have a very stressful job as Music Production Manager and Music Department Manager at Scripps Networks. We are the home of HGTV, DiY, Fine Living, GAC and their related web sites. I have a ton of people to make happy. During the day I test about 5 to 8 times a day. I eat the same light breakfast every morning which is 2 dry waffles and some fruit. Once in a while I will have a McDonald’s bisquit with egg only and a small milk. I don’t have much of an appetite in the day for whatever reason but will eat dinner eventually.

I don’t have lows nearly as much as I did when I was about 5 years younger. The pump can add to the frequent lows if you keep your eye on your blood sugars like I do. Lately, I let the pump do the basal rate and I inject any bolus greater then 5 to 7 units. That lets me keep the pump in a day longer with fewer changes. These supplies are getting expensive and our insurance coverage worsens each year. Like so many long term diabetics with type 1 I have periodic sleep problems. Rolling over on the pump, low reservoir alarms, aches and pains in my shoulders and the ever so common mild diabetic depression or anxiety bouts that occasionally rears its ugly head.

What were the biggest challenges with diabetes you have encountered since you got diagnosed?
In the beginning I had to boil glass syringes with screw on metal needles that got very dull very fast. These weighed a lot and shots were a lot more painful. Then there were the urine test strips as there were no finger testing mechanisms. To get a blood sugar reading meant a trip to a lab, getting the blood drawn from the old arm vein and then getting your results a week or so later. When I was really young all of the Holidays changed. That was when I felt different from everyone else. Halloween and not trick or treating became my most embarrassing moment. I just stayed home.

The life long blood sugar fluctuations have always worried and bothered me. I would give anything for a day with no required maintenance. When I get any stomach virus and resulting nausea I usually end up at the hospital with the glucose IV and the phenegran IV. Having to always be prepared for the blood sugar lows is a pain in the you-know-what. My pockets are always full of something whether it be glucose tabs, snacks or my blood test kit. Interesting note about the word nausea. As a former theology student and having taken New Testament era Greek nausea means…sailing on rough seas.

Anything you would have done differently if you could?
Not worry so much about it all in recent years as I get older. Go to Google and type “diabetes and depression.” It is a very heavily researched topic. All new young diabetics feeling angry about diabetes need to cheer up. The pump means so much as far as easing the difficulties of your daily routine. My favorite thing about the pump in not having to eat a meal if I don’t want to. Or eating a meal when I want to, not when my shots made me eat it in the old days.

What is your biggest dream today?
To retire and really tighten up my diabetes. I can’t wait till the cause is identified and no kids will ever get this thing. Why is it that cats get it so often?

What is your advice for the younger generations of people with diabetes?
You are not a diabetic !!! You are a person who happens to have diabetes. Always remember that. Live your life just like everyone else as best you can. There are a ton of worse conditions and diseases out there. One of my former music students and dear friends is Kristian Bush of the band Sugarland. As I tell him, thank the Lord that one of the potential complications from diabetes is not having to like Country music. Hee Hee !!! You can see me with him in a picture I put up in my profile page on Tu Diabetes.

Anything else you would like to share with us?
The difference between 1958 and 2008 for a person with diabetes is night and day. I wrote Minimed and suggested that they add an mp3 player in their next line of pumps. It could be done. Plug in your headset and your pump becomes your absolute best friend. It keeps you in control while you listen to The Beatles Sgt. Peppers. Heavenly!!!

Previous Member Spotlights

Enjoyed reading your perspective, Doug!

Wow Doug! You wrote about having diabetes exactly the way I would. I find the pump now gives me much more freedom then when I was MDI. I thank Harold Swaffield - who is also a member now here at TuDiabetes for sort of pushing me to go onto the pump. BTW, I had a cat who was diabetic - and he was actually in better control then I was with his diabetes! He lived a good life with 2 jabs a day - and a scratch behind the ear and a cuddle - I miss him so much - since we both liked to ‘shoot up’ together when it was meal time. Keep up the good work - and maybe if Steve Jobs decides to revamp the insulin pump - we may have more then just an MP3 player on our pumps in the future!

Very touching. Right now, I can’t imagine having to cope with this “thing” for 50 yrs. I am at about 20 years. I can’t even recall the year I was diagnosed!

I hope you have another 50 years to go!!!

Lois La Rose
Milwaukee, WI

Congrats on 50 years Doug! :slight_smile: I’d die if not liking country music was a complication of diabetes. :slight_smile:

Doug - Congrats on 50 years with the big D! Kind of like being married, huh? Some good, some bad and some really strange days. Here’s wishing you many more good days!

Dear Doug,
Being a type 1 for just about eight years now I am a newbe compared to you. I struggle with depression and the anexiety and not many people really have a grip on what to do. You have insight, and experince, THANKS for sharing. My diabetes was drug induced… but that’s another story.
Dan Oliva