Recently, I was fortunate to be able to celebrate living twice as long as my doctor’s thought I would. Being diagnosed at age two, on Labor Day 1955, not much was known about type 1 diabetes in the general medical community. My parents, along with my sisters and I, were celebrating Labor Day at one of the local beaches in Upstate New York. I couldn’t stop drinking or filling my diaper, so my parents took me to a doctor that was available on the holiday. They were asked to bring some of my urine, which they did in an empty jar. The doctor accused my Mom of putting sugar in the jar. The next day, we went to our family doctor, who saved my life. He admitted that he did not know a lot about managing type 1 diabetes, and recommended my parents take me to Boston, to what is now Joslin Clinic. My parents drove over 300 miles to Boston, where I met Dr. Joslin, and many other amazing doctors over the 16 years I went there. That was one of the only places I was around other people who had type 1 diabetes.
My small town later had two other young men who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and my mom helped their parents understand all that was involved in managing the disease. I’m fortunate that my parents didn’t hover over me, and the doctors at Joslin told my parents and I that is my disease and my responsibility to manage it. That was the best advice ever. Fortunately for me, we traveled and enjoyed exploring the US by car. I imagine it was quite difficult planning around long drives and foreign places, while preparing food and carrying syringes and insulin for me, along with caring for my two older sisters.
There were a few times I had low blood sugars, requiring help from my sister or friends, while I was outdoors playing. It was great having the support of friends and family.
Now, I’m thrilled to say, my husband and I have three amazing children and eight wonderful grandchildren. Not bad for someone who was told they’d likely not live past 35, and wouldn’t be able to have children.
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