Carolyn Gridley: A Farm Girl Grows Up With Diabetes

Born on the family dairy farm in New York, the second of fivechildren, Carolyn Gridley was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes afterher grandmother noticed sugar crystals on her diaper that attractedthe bees and flies around the farm.

That was in July of 1950, whenshe was two years old.  She's had diabetes now for 57 years.

For her first thirty years with diabetes, Carolyn took regularinsulin and NPH once a day. She ate meals on a rigid schedule;breakfast at seven, lunch at noon, and dinner at 5:30 or six. Therewere no glucose meters, so she did the old urine tests to check forsugar.

She recalls having to boil her needles and remembers how theyhurt because of the burrs they developed after repeated usage. Sheloves the new syringes because their needles "are so sharp andslick." After nursing school, at about age 35 or 40, she first beganusing a glucose meter. She still works as a nurse, making healthcalls for a hospice organization.

Beginning during college, Carolyn went for ten years without seeinga specialist or checking her A1c's. Because she was so busy, shejust ordered supplies through her regular doctor. Her currentinsulin regimen is four to seven units of Humalog for each meal andfifteen units of Lantus at bedtime.

She tests two or three times aday, and her blood sugar is dismayingly erratic – in the morning itcan be anywhere from 100 to 200. Her A1cs go up and down aswell – her last one was 8.1 percent, which she found veryfrustrating. But it's been 57 years, and still she's had nocomplications.

Growing up on the farm, Carolyn learned healthful eating from hermother and the 4H club. Processed snacks were unheard of during herchildhood, and she avoids them to this day. Her daily diet islimited to 2100 calories. Having counted calories for fifty years,she doesn't like the idea of switching to counting carbs.

Exercisewas a big part of life during her youth on the farm, but it's harderto fit exercise into her life now that she's so busy. She manages towalk and swim fairly often nevertheless.

About six years ago, Carolyn went to Joslin Clinic in Boston toreceive her medal for living fifty years with diabetes. It was apleasure to meet all the other long-timers and hear their stories.One elderly lady had just gotten a pump and just loved it, butCarolyn isn't inclined to get one because she worries aboutmalfunctions.

Carolyn has had a long and healthy life with diabetes. To newbies,she advises following medical advice and practicing portion control.

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