Nearly Five Decades With Type 1

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By: Merilee Kaufman

At 63 years old, I've coped successfully with insulin-dependent diabetes for 46 years.  Education and acceptance are the keys, but it took me years (and the support of loving family and friends) to achieve them.

I remember the old days of boiling metal syringes and urine testing with Clinitest and test tape. Resisting the pump, I'm on insulin injections: 6 pm 4 units Levemir; 6 am (breakfast) 3.5 units Humalog; lunch 2 units Humalog; and dinner 2 units Humalog. I monitor my blood sugar about fourteen times a day and use additional insulin as needed. I'm 5'7 and weigh 132 pounds.

Quite some time ago, I had mild peripheral neuropathy–then along came blood sugar home monitoring.  With improved control (A1c's about 6.2 percent) and symptoms gone, that condition no longer requires treatment.

Earlier in my diabetes career, treating with glucose/dextrose, I would recover from low blood sugars immediately with no after effects.  In these latter years, however, I experience high blood sugars hours after normalizing my blood sugar.  My endocrinologist tells me they're caused by counter-regulatory hormones released in response to the lows.  I’m guessing that with diabetes of longer duration, the control system has lost some of its power.  I treat the high BG's with mini-doses of insulin and move on. My diabetes goals: avoid low, as well as high, blood sugars.

My life is chockfull of activities. I attend concerts, appear as a vocalist in a local swing duo, act in plays, present my own articles and poems, and model in an annual fundraising show.  I've also given talks on diabetes at local libraries. I go to the gym three times a week, bike, swim, and go ballroom dancing with Herb, my loving husband of 34 years.  Herb supports me in my endeavors — sometimes catching occasional hypoglycemic episodes. (I've endured hypoglycemic unawareness for the past fourteen or so years.)  Most days, my "trademark" energy is high, and I feel great.  Acceptance and control of my diabetes have helped me fulfill my dreams and enjoy the gift of life.

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