It was the Dark Ages of Diabetes
American Diabetes Association’s magazine Diabetes Forecast turns 60 this year. As a part of the celebration, you are invited to take a look back at the progress in diabetes care over the past 60 years. In addition, meet Diabetes World e-newsletter readers who were diagnosed with diabetes throughout the decades. Brenda Shaffer was diagnosed with diabetes in 1978.
There are dates that diabetes is imprinted in my memory.
January 8, 1975: My first son was born weighing 11 pounds, 12 ounces. The doctor asked if anyone in my family had diabetes and I told him no. I had a glucose tolerance test and the numbers were fine. I promptly forgot about diabetes.
January 25, 1978: I was diagnosed with diabetes. I was six months pregnant and delivered a baby boy three months premature weighing 5 pounds, 4 ounces.
In retrospect, I believe I thought it was inevitable that I would die from diabetes at a young age. I was on 10 units of insulin a day, checked my blood sugar only sometimes because you had to test your urine. In fact, I had gotten sick so fast that the first day I gave myself an injection was the day I came home from the hospital. There hadn’t been any training. It was the Dark Ages of Diabetes.
I admit that I didn’t take having diabetes seriously and for years, I just lived like a person without diabetes. I took my insulin but that is about all. I ate however I wanted and just existed. I just thought I would die from it, so I might as well live until I did.
June 30, 1997: I had my first complication. I had a hemorrhage from diabetic retinopathy. Fortunately, I received excellent treatment and my vision is still 20/20, but that was a wake up call. I started living like a person with diabetes; checking my blood sugar, eating better and exercising more. I started being in charge.
January 23, 2004: My A1C was 10. I was checking my blood sugar 4 times a day and trying to follow my doctor’s suggestions. The results weren’t very good! She suggested I look into an insulin pump. I enrolled in diabetes education classes offered by one of our local hospitals and began intensive blood glucose monitoring. I went from a haphazard tester to an intensive tester. I tested 2 hours after meals, before meals before bed and even before driving a car.
February 28, 2004: My liberation came. I started using my insulin pump.
May 7, 2004: After having my pump for 2 months, my A1C was 7.1. It has continued to improve.
June 2008: My A1C was 6.5. It has improved because I made a commitment to test regularly, watch my diet, exercise and learn all that I can about diabetes. I am by no means perfect—being a person with diabetes is time consuming and always has to be on your mind. I still can improve in all areas but these are things that I have control over.
Since I started controlling my diabetes, I have my life back like it was before—I am ME again.