In 1931, a cyclone interrupted my early life. My father farmed flax and wheat in Montana, my mother taught her students in a one room schoolhouse. The cyclone destroyed everything they owned, except their Ford. Dad, Mom and I drove to the great Northwest to start a new life, near my mother's parents. My Dad's mother, a farm woman all her life, came to visit us in the early '30s, I was told that not much later she died of diabetes. One thing I remember: when my grandmother visited, she was not taking insulin.
Soon after, my parents bought a big old house for $1,000, and it still stands! Suddenly, Mom's folks lost their home to the depression. My Grandpa had come through Ellis Island at the age of 21, taught himself reading and writing English, and worked his way west. He met and married my Grandma, the first woman schoolteacher in the Territory of Texas. Now they lived with us, Dad, Mom, me and my little brother, around 1940. My grandparents were sweetly in love. Every day Grandpa brushed Grandma's waist-long hair. In about a year, Grandma developed gall stones that blocked her pancreas. They removed the stones and her gallbladder too late. She was never given insulin.
My father struggled to support our extended family during the depression when few jobs were available. He found work in a lumber factory (which turned out to be a very important factory during World War II), a job he held all his working life. (When Mom went back to teaching school, we had a little extra money for luxuries like school clothes...) Dad had pernicious anemia, the first years before there was a treatment; Grave's Disease; and most likely undiagnosed celiac disease--all autoimmune conditions. When he was in his late 70's, Dad developed diabetes. Mom said, with relief, "This isn't real diabetes; my mother had real diabetes. He just has to watch what he eats". Well, yes, a blocked pancreas is real. He was never given insulin.
By now I have collected five autoimmune diseases. I was in my early sixties when I started passing out daily, sometimes after breakfast and sometimes around 3:00PM. Neither my doctor nor I could find a reason. When I passed out and drove into a ditch a few yards from my driveway, I stopped driving. Everything I ate made me sick--I almost stopped eating! In November, 1993, I had minor surgery. After I'd been hooked up to a glucose IV, a nurse stabbed my finger and said she was testing my blood sugar. Half an hour later, she returned and said, "You have diabetes!" A dietician visited me while I was in the hospital. When I described my diet, she said, "That's not a balanced diet!" and walked out. She was right.
My doctor diagnosed me with Type 2 diabetes. Pills didn't work, so I was soon given insulin, Regular and NPH. Magic! I felt good! I stopped passing out! I was lucky, though--despite having had no education whatsoever about how to use that insulin, with help from my husband I somehow managed not to kill myself with lows. In time I was diagnosed with celiac disease, so I can't eat gluten (or soy and corn). My hospital dietician would be pleased.
Starting my 507 MiniMed pump brought a major improvement in my Blood Glucose and my first diabetes education. At a memorable appointment, my then endocrinologist looked up from a stack of my labs and medical records and said, "You are exquisitely Type 1 and extremely insulin-sensitive". No surprise there! Finally I discovered the DOC and Tudiabetes, so now I have a source for my continuing education.
I have had the good fortune to live a long life. My causes and issues stem from this life I've led. The one issue about diabetes that drives me crazy? Type Wars: who's got the best, the worst, the most real type of diabetes? Write a blog or discussion concerned with Type 1s and Type 2s and you won't have to wait long for the angry, frustrated comments to tumble over each other. If my wish were granted, all that passion in my fellow PWD's would be directed toward advocating for good causes rather than toward beating up on each other. My causes: we need education, we need real knowledge about our disease(s). Non-PWD's need education, too--accurate information about diabetes. Everyone, everywhere in the world, is entitled to be tested for diabetes; given a timely and accurate diagnosis when indicated; and given appropriate treatment. Drum roll! Insulin! Anyone and everyone who needs insulin should have affordable access to the appropriate kind for that individual, regardless of age and diabetes type. Peace. Trudy