Yesterday I stopped by the Community Volunteer Leadership Conference (CVLC) for a special appearance from an inspiration to anyone living with diabetes. The American Diabetes Association’s National Youth Advocate, Madi Dodge, was also there and shared her thoughts about the experience on her blog, which I’d like to repost here:
As the opening for “Paving the Way for Discovery” a very touching story was shared. Dr. Wu, an endocrinologist, introduced a very special patient of hers, Robert Krause. Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 5 years of age, at 90 years old, Mr. Krause is credited with being the only American known to have lived with the disease for 85 years! Isn’t that amazing?
On his birthday, Mr. Krause was awarded a special medal from the Joslin Center acknowledging and celebrating his amazing diabetes longevity! He spoke about growing up with diabetes in a time where syringes were glass and needles were immense, when glucose monitoring consisted of boiling urine, inserting a tablet and waiting for the color to change, and when many doctors prescribed basic starvation as a way of prolonging life with diabetes. You would think that he would speak of those early years with diabetes in a negative way, focusing on how hard it was compared to the many advancements we have now, but he did not.
Mr. Krause realizes all too well how very lucky he was to be diagnosed when he was, and not a year earlier. He knows this in a very intimate way. See, Mr. Krause’s younger brother was diagnosed the year before he was. Unfortunately, his brother Jackie was diagnosed before commercial production of insulin made it widely available. Without insulin, a person with type 1 diabetes can’t live, and Mr. Krause had the heartbreaking experience of losing his younger brother to diabetes. He basically saw his brother starve to death because without insulin he could not absorb anything from his food and he could not use his food for energy. I can only imagine how horribly scared Mr. Krause and his whole family must have been when he was diagnosed so soon after losing Jackie.
Mr. Krause credits his long life with diabetes to many things. He says that he was blessed with incredible parents who taught him and worked with him to manage his diabetes, and that never gave up on him. He also credits his beautiful wife of 57 years and he says that without her, he would not be here today. Mr. Krause’s incredible faith allows him to see his diabetes as a blessing to him in many ways.
After the session presentation I had the honor and privilege to meet Mr. Krause and to speak with him for a while. We talked about the consistent daily regimen he uses for his diabetes control. He is very diligent in his eating, exercising and in checking his blood glucose levels 8 – 12 times a day. Even though eating the same cup of nuts and 5 pitted prunes each morning for breakfast does not sound all that appetizing to me… he must be doing something right! His doctor says that his A1C and his numbers are awesome and that he does not have cardiovascular or renal complications from his diabetes at all. That is amazing!
I asked Mr. Krause about his greatest piece of advice to share with a teenager living with diabetes. His initial answer was quite simple… “exercise and eat right.” He then elaborated by saying to truly take care of yourself you need to eat to live, and not live to eat. He said that he treats his body like a car, fueling himself only when needed. Mr. Krause has been on an insulin pump since they were first available and feels that the advent of blood glucose monitoring and ongoing technology advancements are vitally important to good diabetes control. He has never allowed diabetes to Stop him… but he sure does inspire me to do all that is in my power to Stop Diabetes®!
If you would like to see more pictures and follow along with what is happening out here at the CVLC, go to facebook.com/AmDiabetesVols. There is also great information and livestreaming video of the sessions available here ..