When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 11, Doctor Stagaman told my mom I probably wouldn’t live past 40 and definitely not past 50. He also told her there was a good chance I wouldn’t be able to have children.
I don’t know what it is about me, but I really, really enjoy proving doctors wrong!
I have had an intimate relationship with diabetes for nearly 43 years. I’ve seen diabetes care progress greatly over the years, but it’s just that, care for diabetes so that I can stay relatively healthy and live longer. But there is still no cure.
When I was first diagnosed, several times a day I used Clinitest tablets (which have nothing to do with an ex-president) that I would utilize to test my urine. I felt like a chemist, using a dropper to put just the precise amount of urine into the test tube, placing the tablet into the tube, and then watching it fizz and change colors. This was fun for about a week; then it became cumbersome, and it was a very inaccurate way of determining my blood-glucose level. (Basically, testing your urine tells you what your blood-glucose level was several hours ago.) Today I can test my blood in 3 seconds and I know it’s accurate, which means I can control my diabetes better.
While I appreciate better diabetes care today, a cure would dramatically change my future and the future of my friends with diabetes. I don’t really want this disease or the complications. Today, I have some retinopathy in my eyes and a bit of nerve damage, but I can live with these things. Yet I’m seeing people I know and care about dealing with complications such as blindness, amputations, kidney disease, and even death. That’s why I’m doing everything I can, short of sin, to raise money to beat diabetes.
This may sound odd to some, but I am thankful for diabetes. Why? For one thing, I am very conscientious about my health, diet, and exercise. I’m now 53 years old and I want to see my four children–in your face, Dr. Stagaman!–get married and have kids of their own. I want to keep living healthy through all the highs and lows of life for as long as I can.