with Type 1 Diabetes in 2009.
This article was originally posted in December of 2009.
My grandmother has since passed away.**
As a young girl, my mother told me that her older sister (my Aunt) was diagnosed
with Type 1 Diabetes when she was young.
So when my daughter was diagnosed with it this past February, I of course remembered this.
My mother told me this is a very “livable” disease,
and I was encouraged by that as I know she grew up watching her sister.
In November, I decided to call both my Aunt as well as my Grandmother to talk with them about their experiences living with this disease.
How fascinating our conversations were.
My Aunt is now 69 years old,
and has been living with Type 1 Diabetes for 61 years!!
She was diagnosed in 1948 when she was 8 years old.
That must be the magic age in our family, as my daughter was also 8 years old
when she was diagnosed.
Another interesting thing is that my Aunt’s granddaughter
(who actually is not genetically linked to her because her daddy, my Aunt’s son, was adopted)
was also diagnosed with this disease when SHE was 8 years old.
My Aunt remembers being on two different insulins as a young girl:
protamine zinc and “regular insulin”.
She told me that they were mixed so she only had to take one shot….in the morning, at breakfast,
for the ENTIRE day!!
I about fell over.
She remembers testing her blood sugar through her urine with a test strip.
They would check her blood sugar,
give her the insulin calculated for her daily needs,
and then she would eat food on an “exchange” program according
to the amount of insulin she had received.
That was it.
No A1C test, no meters, no glucagon kits.
She thought she remembered testing for ketones with tablets that would fizz,
but couldn’t remember for sure.
When I asked her about how her diabetes was managed at school,
she said it wasn’t.
She was pretty sure nobody at school even knew she had diabetes!!!!
I could NOT believe that.
I asked her if she thought all we have to do for our children today is overkill,
and she thought it really was.
Her granddaughter used to be at my Aunt’s house nearly everyday,
so she (my Aunt) saw the routine her granddaughter went through
and all the things she had to do at school.
and would eat a sugar cube or drink some juice to bring it back up.
I asked her if she remembers how they would know if
her blood sugars were being kept under good control,
and she really couldn’t give me a definitive answer.
I asked her if she has had any complications from the diabetes and she has had none.
I LOVED that.
I was so thrilled that she has lived for 61 years with this,
and has had no real complications.
When she and my uncle were starting their family, she did lose two precious baby boys.
Both died within days of birth, but she could not say definitively that this was due to her diabetes. There were other things complicating her pregnancies unrelated to the diabetes also.
So she adopted two boys, one of which now has a daughter with Type 1 Diabetes.
She did say that a number of years back her eye doctor noticed
some minor hemorrhaging in her retinas,
but laser surgery took care of that.
Today, she still prefers to use syringes as her primary insulin delivery method.
She has tried the pen and did look into the pump, but did not care for either one.
She thought they were too cumbersome and time consuming.
She is using the “NPH” insulin in the morning
as well as very tiny amounts of Humalog at meals.
She is very disciplined with her schedule and her diet
and prefers to stick with what she has done for many years
as it keeps her in better control of her diabetes.
My sweet grandmother is now 93 years old,
and really did not remember a lot of the details of caring for my Aunt as a young girl.
She of course, remembered how old she was and that she had one shot a day,
but told me I would get more details from my Aunt.
My Grandmother was a nurse, so I really don’t think it was a big deal
for her emotionally to care for her daughter’s condition.
My Grandfather, her husband, developed Type 2 Diabetes in his later years,
and she was reminiscing about that.
My Grandmother has always seemed very resilient to me and has adapted well to whatever the Lord brought into her life .
She always had a pleasant attitude about it all.
She is my hero!!