Today marks the 34th anniversary of my diabetes diagnosis. I’m amazed that it’s been that long. The doctor who diagnosed me was a young general practitioner who could have easily diagnosed me as a T2D (I was 30 years old.) and diverted me down the unnecessary cascade of type 2 drugs and further hyperglycemia.
Looking back I realize that my slow onset of T1D started the year before. I remember a downhill skiing skin abrasion that seemed to take forever to heal.
That young general practitioner doc said something to me that stands the test of time very well. He told me that people who do well long-term with diabetes are usually well-educated and have an ongoing interest in learning. I’ve learned that diabetes does respond positively to knowledge, curiosity, and persistence.
While I did adopt an insulin pump at year three and always did a lot of finger-poking, I can see now that I finally broke through in my diabetes treatment in year 28. That was the year I received a diabetes complication diagnosis that put my motivation to treat my diabetes into high gear.
I started eating a low-carb high fat diet and was astounded at how well it worked. I began to upload and analyze daily my diabetes data from my CGM, pump, and meter. Some people might see this as obsessive, detracting from enjoying my real life. I concluded that I would not enjoy the non-diabetes part of life (family, friends, hobbies) if my diabetes life rudely displaced my attention away from the things that make life worth living.
People may look at my routine and conclude that my time and focus on diabetes is obsessive. I see my diabetes routine as a paradox. The more time I focus on diabetes in the short run the greater the return in the long run. More time spent now repays my time when those new treatments are incorporated into habit. In the end, I actually spend less time on my diabetes and feel better.
I found that time devoted to better treatment paid me back when I felt better with more energy, more often. I encourage anyone who has struggled with dividing their time and energy between diabetes care and the rest of their life to give their diabetes more time in the short run. I’ve found that it pays huge dividends. My only regret is that it took me 28 years to learn this lesson, but learn it I did. I’m certain I’ve not only added years to my life but I’ve added quality as well.
Here’s a list, in no particular order, of the most important items that improved my life with diabetes.
An insulin pump and the lessons I learned to operate it well.
A CGM to watch and learn the how and why of my blood sugar traces.
A low-cab, high fat diet that taught me the value of fewer carbs = less insulin = smaller mistakes.
The value of hanging out (online and offline) with my diabetes tribe.
The value of daily monitoring my diabetes data. I discovered that the mere act of observing this data subconsciously motivates me to make it better.
Closed loop insulin dosing systems are a big deal. My use of Loop improved all my numbers with less effort.
Well, I could go on and on but I’ll spare you the effort. I’ll celebrate this day by taking a long walk on a relatively warm winter day. Thanks for reading!