Type 1 for 81 Years

Don Ray has been type 1 for 81 years. He is a member of the Joslin Medalists Facebook group. He looks so good, and is older than me. I actually look older than him. lol


This story is an inspiration for people like me, who have endured living with diabetes for only 34 years! It’s always nice to read about people who have lived well with T1D, even though we’re all aware that genetics does play a significant role. Attitude and personal health habits matter, as they do for people without diabetes.

I do note, however, that there is no date stamp on the photo and we humans do like to portray our best look when possible. Don Ray may look younger than you now because that picture was taken 10 years ago.

Thanks for the story, @Richard157.


Thank you.

I worry about the future and this helps alot.


Well Richard has certainly lived a long time with type 1 diabetes, and a few of us have lived with it 60 yrs or more. I would love to live another 20 yrs in good shape if possible. But unlike Don Ray I have had many pieces of pie and full glasses of wine in my earlier years. I had a full glass of wine a few days ago. LOL I think of myself as being very disciplined, but Don certainly has me beat! Congratulations to him for all his hard work.


He credits a good support system as part of the reason for his success. I never realized how important it really was until I got married. Before marriage, I just assumed that shouldering the burden alone and experiencing frequent diabetes burnout was how it was and how it always had to be. I knew other people could make things harder, but never experienced anyone making things easier, so I mostly just bottled up all my frustration and let it explode in bouts of burnout and extremely poor management. I realized the other day that although managing diabetes is actually harder nowadays (pregnancy hormones), I rarely feel any type of diabetes burnout and if I do, it’s fairly mild. Just having someone to vent to who refrains from judging has made a huge difference for me. I feel blessed to finally have a support system and wish all diabetics could find this. Congratulations to Don Ray, and let’s hope we can all find our version of success.


I had glass tube insulin syringes also. That was before blood sugar machines too.


He does look great :grinning: I know I will, not be living with it for 81 years thank goodness :joy_cat:

I think you are right, he looks younger there.

I understand how a good support system that often includes a spouse or close friend can be. Be aware, however, that not all of us have been fortunate to enjoy that form of support.

I’ve learned that support from a close family member or friend is not the only way to cope with diabetes. I have been single for almost all of my diabetes life and have been able to build a life that doesn’t require this kind of support for diabetes success and happiness. I’ve discovered that we, as humans, can give this support to ourselves.

I think it’s great that a healthy relationship can provide a potent antidote to diabetes burnout but I’m here to tell you that we each can give that gift to ourselves if we so choose. While a supportive intimate relationship is well-suited to help bear our diabetes burden, all is not lost for those of us who are single.

A single life is just another way of living, neither better nor worse than a coupled life. Our society is heavily biased toward a coupled way of living and sometimes singles become convinced that they are failures and incapable of happiness without a spouse or intimate relationship. That belief can cause much harm.

Celebrate the joy found in another but please realize that that is not the only way!


I understand that, and I did not mean to criticize anyone who is single, by choice or otherwise. I was extremely lucky to even meet my husband (the odds of us meeting were at least millions to one), and neither of us had any intention of getting married, just having some fun. I saw my parents marriage and decided being alone was better, but circumstances changed my mind.

I also understand that many people have had success finding support systems outside of a romantic partnership. That was never the case for me, as I said my experience with most people (family, friends, randos) is that they make things SO much worse. Honestly, I believe if I didn’t have to talk to anyone, I would need my husband less because I wouldn’t be constantly bothered by doctors, coworkers, or others who say totally stupid things. Adolescence was a lot worse because everyone has opinions on how teenagers are doing things wrong, and it led to bad mental health problems. I was diagnosed with severe depression at 12, and the solutions to treat it only made things worse in my opinion. I became convinced that I needed nobody and was better off on my own, which is why I moved to Korea and then Egypt (and I was much, much happier without the “support system” of my family). I would have never guessed that anyone could talk you off the ledge because up until I met someone supportive, people had only pushed me closer to the edge. If we could live in a world where I could be alone all the time, never have to refill prescriptions, or make money, or do anything involving other people, I would be happier, but it’s impossible. Equally important to having a support system is cutting out toxic people, and something that’s not easy, especially when you get the reputation of being “difficult” and told “well, you’re clearly just dramatic and making up issues because you also don’t get along with x,y, and z”.

Don Ray mentions his parents filled the role of support system before his wife, penny. He is very lucky to have had both. My husband could have something happen to him tomorrow and I would be alone again (he and my brother are my only support, and my brother is useless, but not hurtful), and I would have to figure things out for the baby by myself. Obviously, everybody has the capability to get things sorted alone, but I know from experience it’s a lot harder because you’re not actually alone. Any type of meaningful support is appreciated and anyone who has it is extremely lucky because just as a society we encourage coupling, we also make things a lot harder than they need to be for diabetics (refilling prescriptions, being told you’ll be lucky to make it to 30, criticized for abnormal blood sugars, woe, etc.), and that is more frustrating than the disease itself in my opinion.

Sorry I wrote a book, but sometimes I think the emotional toll diabetes has on me is a lot worse than the physical one.


I think the best relationships, romantic and otherwise, are comprised of two individuals who are emotionally independent and happy as singles before they form a relationship. I think self-love builds the best foundation for a relationship.

Having said all that, I think parenting in pairs is better overall providing it’s a healthy relationship.


I agree, but I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with learning to rely on someone for whatever reason. In both Korea and Egypt, they think it’s weird how independent Americans try to be. After all, we don’t live in bubbles. I also think marriage is extremely difficult at times, and I would never do it again, but I just happen to have had success with this one relationship.


A healthy relationship is a work of art that no one ever perfects. Anything that grows must dynamically respond to the current reality.


I wonder what he maintains his A1c score at?

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I wonder that too.

That is amazing. Nancy50