We're always happy to embrace fellow PWDs (people with diabetes) anxious to share their stories here at the 'Mine -- both the more prominent advocates and also the many "forgotten patients" who so often remain unseen.
Today, we're delighted to welcome Paul Clements, a longtime type 1 in the Chicago area who's been living with T1D for almost five decades now. He has a pretty set view on what's worked for him over the decades (aka, his Diabetes Does Not Vary). Here's his personal take on D-management with a mantra of routine and discipline...
Looking Back on 45 Years with T1D
When I was diagnosed with T1D it was 1972 and I was seven years old. Treatments and insulin regimens were very different. Typical for me was a fasting blood sugar test once or twice a year, a single shot of NPH insulin every morning, and the occasional urine-ketone test when things weren’t going well. My diet was just as simple. No sugar. Loosely translated, that meant I must say no to a cookie, but I could say yes to an order of French fries.
The good thing about my childhood was that it was the perfect preparation for managing my T1D as an adult. A morning paper route meant I started my day with a long, fast bike ride (cardio). Playing organized sports (exercise) taught me how to manage my food intake (diet) to avoid lows (hypoglycemia). Having to get up early every day meant I went to bed early (sleep).
When I was diagnosed, I was hospitalized for the first two weeks. After that, I spent the next two weeks incrementally increasing my time away from the hospital during the day, but returning for an evening meal and to spend the night. Fortunately for me, that was my last diabetes-related hospital stay. I have managed to be consistent with my blood sugars daily and on the 90-day A1C basis, although I do sometimes struggle with blood sugar levels going from night to day.
I self-manage my T1D with multiple daily injection insulin therapy on a set schedule. I supplement this with daily exercise and a healthy diet. My two rules are to try not to snack and try not to eat until I’m full. Advancements in technology have also been especially beneficial to me, allowing me to improve my daily program through monitoring, testing and carb counting.
During my childhood, in addition to my morning NPH shot, my doctor also prescribed eating five times a day, and I still do this: light breakfast, mid-morning snack, light lunch, late-afternoon snack and dinner. While T1D’s must use insulin to manage blood sugar, I prefer to control my food intake and use insulin to stay level. Being more deliberate with food, exercise and a schedule have helped me avoid the rollercoaster of highs and lows that are so difficult to deal with.
During the last five years, I have worked as an Agile Project Manager, based in the Chicago area. This can be difficult, with frequently changing locations and situations. So, in addition to the laptop bag I always carry, I also carry a large cooler for my food, water and insulin. Having the cooler allows me to minimize the effect of changes that are difficult to manage, like time zone changes, rescheduled meetings or pressing deadlines. Having my cooler also means I don’t have to eat out as frequently, which is also helpful.
Overall, my life is good and diabetes hasn't stopped me. This summer, my wife Felicite and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and our daughter, Veronica, is a James Scholar at the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign.
Clearly, what I do is working for me. But I also look at PWD’s as snowflakes; with each one being truly one of a kind. I also have a T1D cousin who has a very different treatment and exercise regimen than I do, but it’s nice to have a close family member to stay current with. So, be happy and be well with your treatment programs and please continue to support advocacy groups that exist.
PWD’s have a voice, so let’s be heard!!
Thanks for sharing your story, Paul!