Thursday, March 17, 2011

Diabetes--Sixty Six Years and Counting.

Diabetes can be a seriously debilitating, painful and ultimately deadly disease.  The quality of life you experience with this disease can be relatively normal or totally miserable.  The experience you have personally  is totally up to you.

I was a senior in college (1965) when I passed out moving into an apartment with my new roommates.  Turns out, my pancreas stopped working and shortly thereafter ended up in the Joslin Clinic in Boston to learn what I needed to know so as not to die or be severely incapacitated.  Man, I was scared and decided I had better pay attention to what had happened since I had a lot of plans for my life and did not want diabetes interfering with my goals. 

I am now 66 years old and quite active, but still pay close attention to diet, exercise, weight, and medical issues.  The purpose of this blog is to pass along comments on the things I did to get this far in one piece and share some of the struggles this disease can create. 

I believe the main thing you have to do when you learn of your illness is that your life has to balance three major things--Diet, Exercise and Insulin (or pills--if Type 2). 

Relative to Diet, you just plain have to decide that many of the foods you liked in the past have just become the enemy that has to be carefully measured.  I decided back in college that I was done with pastries (which I use to like a lot), desserts, starchy foods (pastas/potatoes/rice/baked beans/maple syrup) and dramatically reduced my bread intake.  That's the bad news, the good news was that I changed to protein, meats, fish, poultry, pork, fats, nuts, cheese, eggs, olive oil, butter, most all vegetables (except corn, etc). 

Relative to exercise, I began running (which I still do today-3 or 4 times/week on a treadmill) to burn a few calories, exercise my heart, and my feet (which can suffer from reduced circulation).  I also still snow ski, and use the machines in the gym to stay in shape. 

Finally, based on your Diet and Exercise program, your Blood Sugar Tests will determine the quantity of insulin or pills you take.  With today's technology, there is no reason not to test a couple of times per day to know where you stand.  Personally, I aim for a blood sugar between 80 and 180.  I am happy with that and if that's what I average, my A1c will be under 7 (6.8 last check).  If your A1c is significantly higher than that (7.5-8.5 or better), you are in trouble in that your small arteries (arterioles) are clogging by the day.  These arterioles are the ones in back of your eyes and in your kidneys, and when these get clogged, you loose your vision and end up in dialysis...not fun.  This clogging is not reversible.

The bottom line is that you have to balance each of these components (Diet, Exercise, & Insulin/pills) to avoid the complications.  This introductory overview is meant to have you share my experiences of 45 years of taking insulin and managing to live a relatively active and normal life.  If enough people are interested in this topic, I'll keep posting on a regular basis.

Maybe the next topic is how to deal with low blood sugars.



  1. Hi, please continue to share your struggles and success with being a type 1. I am too is type 1 and i just recently found out a month and a half ago. thank you.