How it was in 1960 to get type-1 diabetes. by JOHNBEN


I have to smile when I hear people complaining that they now have diabetes. At this time with the bloodglucose monitors life for the diabetic is so immensely improved over the time when I became a type-1 diabetic in 1960.

Let me tell you why!

Just before Christmas 1960 when Johanna my wife had just baked all the good stuff I liked to eat so very much, life suddenly changed so completely for me that I really felt very, very bad. You see, I was 30 years old and we had two young boys to care for and to make a living for. In those days, without the Internet to look up and join a diabetes group, without any info for Jo how to cook for me except a little booklet given to her, it was a real shock to find out that you were really, all on your own.

The Benson burner was used to boil your urine with water and the chemical was added to see at what color it would come up to indicate the level of glucose in the body. Soon after that we got the “Clinetest” tablets to use which was an improvement. We had to sharpen our needles ourselves boil them in water every time they were used and stuck on the front of the glass seringe which was used all the time. The urine testing would show how your sugar situation probably was about 4 hours ago. Sort of driving your car looking in the rearview mirror. LOL.

First time I noticed that I was in trouble happened in the bowling alley when I couldn’t see the numbers over the alley’s front. I was lucky not to get a strike on the next bowling lane. So I figured I better go home and the darn car just refused to keep the center white line in the center and insisted to run right under my car. Coming home I dropped to the floor, my legs refused to carry me any further. So, we still couldn’t beleave there was something serious. Jo helped me back on my feet and we went to bed.

Next morning to the doctor. Dr. Kopytec to be precise in Toronto. I was ordered to take the day off and stay in bed waiting for the bloodtest. The call came rather soon and he said, “John, go to the hospital right now, your blood sugar is 800 and be quick about it!” I said, “But doctor I have a dy full of appointments lined up, I can’t do that!” He said “Well if you don’t go right now I will not be responsible for you, you are in great danger!” So off we went, me driving of course, Jo could drive but we didn’t know what danger I was in.

Ten days in hospital I was, practising on some oranges, the nurse told me stick it in there, the orange doesn’t care a bit.

So we started with a different life than we thought we would be in. Very different alright! That is now 49 years ago!

How I got through the first 30 years without dropping dead I will never know but without a doubt I my diabetes account was filled with enough trouble for my later years. That’s why I hammer away at the new diabetics to avoid later troubles by taking care of your diabetes right from the start. So far I ended up with a stroke, a heart attack, my bladder is shot and I have to artificially empty my bladder 5 times per 24 hours including 3 Am when I test my sugar at the same time. Now on 5 needles per 24 hours. No pump because of skin conditions. (sticky tape) ect, ect! This is why I wrote the letter called, “The truth about diabetes!” you must have seen.

It got a bit long, but such is my story to date.


and those needles were a very large gauge back then. I haven’t taken a shot in the 18 years I’ve been on the pump, but I’ve seen the ones diabetics use now, and they seem so tiny! welcome here, Johnben.

Dear JB:

I have had C.R.A.P. for 20+ years now. Even then, it was different from now. Much improved. When I first got the Dx, my friend gave me his deceased wife’s glucometer! What a relic!!! Back then, I wondered what it was like for C.R.A.P.ers. We appreciate that we live today and not way, way back when! :slight_smile:

If you want to hear a scarey story, go to my home page and read my profile. I’ve been told by some that it made them cry. I’m not trying to say “my thing is bigger than yours…” (if you know what I mean), but I hope to touch as many people as I can so they don’t end up like me. (Does that sound familiar?)

Glad to see a old-time here. You can remind us of how lucky we are with our pumps, lancets, disposable needles, etc.

Lois La Rose
Milwaukee, WI


Thank you for sharing your story! I am happy I wasn’t DX’d back then!!! I am thankful diabetes care has come a very long way. Keep on the newbies! Can’t wait to read more stories. Keep blogging:)


Thank you all!


Trying to comment on the one year ago stories. but the thing above says “Sorry” Excellent start don’t you think?


Johnben …why don’t you ask any of the Administrators , what to do next in the case of the " Sorry " note .
I understand you to give us an update ??

Great post John! Today’s diabetics only know what they know and don’t know what they don’t, if you know what I mean in regards to their complaints. We all have our own complaints about something or things in regards to DM. I look forward to reading more of your posts.