Finding a Balance: My Life with Type 1 Diabetes

This article was written exclusively for InformationAboutDiabetes.com by Seutedern on SupportGroups.com. She shares her story of living with Type 1 diabetes.

At 16, you are not in the mood to be diagnosed with a chronic illness. I knew what diabetes was; I just never thought I would be diagnosed with it. I was young, thin, smart and ready to graduate in a few years and get on with things.

This was a long time ago. Nobody, not even the doctors, knew much about diabetes. Children and young people developed diabetes. They usually had vague symptoms of thirst, eating lots of food without gaining one ounce and a certain fruity odor to their breath.

The nurse showed me the result of my blood glucose test. It was 402. So what? I know I had headaches and sometimes I could not see very well, but hell, that could have been caused by the wine I had drunk the night before.

I was a rebel. I was good in school and popular with the group of people I ran around with. No way would I tell anyone I had diabetes. What a drag. So I entered the honeymoon phase of Type 1 diabetes - a certain period of time during which the newly diagnosed diabetic seems to have overcome the disease and learned to handle it.

The Honeymoon Phase: Living the Hippie Lifestyle

My honeymoon period lasted almost 10 years. How is that possible, you ask? Well, it was easy: I stopped eating more than one meal a day and I moved around all the time. I became a hippie upon graduating and trying a real job. Believe me, if you have to be diabetic at 16 or 18 or 20, becoming a hippie is not a bad choice. I carried my bed on my back and walked everywhere. I never ate more than one meal a day - no money.

Back then, in Europe, we smoked a lot of black tar opium as a matter of principle. It so happens that any of the opioids are also a lesser known treatment for diabetes type 1, with the opium occupying the same receptors in a cell as the insulin receptors. Don't get me wrong, this is not a cure or treatment for diabetes. It just happened to extend the honeymoon period for me.

Reality Hits: Delivering a 12-pound Baby Girl

At 24, I smacked right up against the reality of diabetes when I got pregnant and delivered, under great distress, a daughter who weighed more than 12 pounds and was starved off food for the first two days of her life. I felt like dirt! That event started my life as a serious diabetic. The next daughter was half the birth weight, born without any problems.

Life with Diabetes: Finding a Balance

So what does it look like now? I wear an electronic insulin pump. I check my blood sugar four or more times a day. I know my A1C and what I need to do to keep lowering it. It is a daily chore: testing, eating the right stuff and moving when I feel like resting. I know more about my body now that I ever did. Yes, life is about balance, but that is okay. Balance is good.

I have lived a long time with this disease. It has not ruined me. It has made me lose my temper. It makes me aware of my body and what it needs to function.

Yes, I have passed on the diabetic gene to my daughters and to my granddaughter, who is a Type 1 like me. Sometimes I feel very guilty about that, but what is the use of that?

We live in interesting times: diabetics know more about their condition than all of the doctors who treated me combined. Still, hope springs eternal. I still hope for the new beta cells, grown from my own stem cells, or a pancreas transplant. But in the meantime, I wear my pump, I test my blood, I eat foods of which I know the carb count.

And sometimes I just rebel and eat what I want. So sue me!

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