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Life with Type 1 Diabetes

Life with type 1 diabetes is hard if that is what you choose. But it doesn’t have to be. I’m choosing to live better with diabetes.

Life with type 1 diabetes is hard if that is what you choose. But it doesn't have to be. I'm choosing to live better with diabetes.

I have a dirty secret. I have type 1 diabetes. Well, that actually isn’t the secret. Most people that know me, know I have diabetes. What most people don’t know is that I do a terrible job taking care of myself. I’ve had diabetes for almost 20 years now. Simply put type 1 diabetes occurs when your pancreas stops producing insulin. Your body can’t can’t metabolize sugar. The sugar stays in your blood stream and if not treated, you go into long-term organ failure and die. The hard truth is if I don’t start taking better care of myself, I may start to have some pretty severe complications.

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was 14 years old. It was exactly one year after my sister was diagnosed.  At the time, I had 4 cousins with Cystic Fibrosis, a deadly disease with no cure. Nearly every one of the children in my family and extended family had a chronic disease. It was really hard on my entire family. I did everything right at first. I was a kid living at home, so of course my mom was on top of things. It all changed when I left for college.

Life with type 1 diabetes during college

Life with type 1 diabetes is actually rather simple in theory: eat right, exercise, take your blood glucose level 4-6 times per day, and take your insulin 4-6 times per day. I would love to tell you that college just got in the way of taking care of myself, but that would be a lie.

I was on my own and angry. There was no cure for diabetes. Why did the happen to me? When my sister was diagnosed, the doctors told my mom there was a 0.5% chance of me getting type 1 diabetes. The odds were supposed to be in my favor. (I really hope the Hunger Games never happen because I’m pretty sure I’d be picked.) I was angry at everyone and no one at the same time. I decided to not take care of myself. I didn’t totally abandon diabetes management. I may have been angry, but I didn’t want to die. I still took insulin. I still paid attention to the carbs I was eating. But that’s it.

I rarely took my blood glucose number.

I ate horribly.

My exercise consisted of walking to class.

I did the bare minimum and that was it.

life with type 1 diabetes after college

Fast forward to life after college. Bad habits are easy to start and hard to break.  My “normal” life with type 1 diabetes was exactly what it had been in college. On the surface, most people saw me take my insulin. They thought I was doing a good job. I didn’t talk about it with anyone. I kept details to a minimum. I went to the doctor and said what the doctor needed to hear so I could get more insulin with as little questions as possible. When my mom asked how my lab results were, I conveniently “forgot” what the results were.

Honestly, I didn’t care about myself.

I fooled myself into thinking I was ok. I didn’t have any complications. I didn’t have sores on my feet. I didn’t have to have any limbs amputated. My kidneys weren’t failing.

Looking back at my life I feel incredibly lucky and stupid at the same time. I did’t want anything bad to happen to me, but I did nothing to prevent it

I knew what I should do. I just wasn’t ready to change. However, I’m in a committed, loving relationship. I have a wife that would do anything for me to see me happy. I have a child on the way. It’s time to stop being selfish towards myself and the people that love me.

I am ready to change.

We went to the doctor last week and am scheduled to get an insulin pump over the next few months. I won’t have multiple daily shots anymore. I’ll have a small pump attached to my arm or leg to deliver a constant stream of insulin. I’ll have a sensor attached that constantly measures my blood glucose level and reports to my cell phone or Apple watch. Basically, I’ll be a cyborg, which is actually pretty cool. Life with type 1 diabetes is about to get much easier. And that is a good thing.

Do you have a “dirty secret”? What are you doing about it?

Feel free to comment wth your story below or contact me at [email protected]. Want more info on type 1 diabetes? Head over the Juvenal Diabetes Research Foundation to see what you can do to help find a cure.

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