Talking Type 1: Andy McAllister

All week long, we are featuring people who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as adults. Let’s hear from Andy, who was surprised to discover he had diabetes after being screened at a local health fair.

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Name: Andy McAllister

Age: 31 (diagnosed at age 30)

Location: Columbia, Ky.

My story begins in the fall of 2010, as I purchased my first home and started a new position at work. At this time, I was completely unaware I was on the verge of becoming diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It wasn’t until I participated in a local health fair sponsored by our hospital that I received a report saying I had a high glucose level (300-400 mg/dl). It was suggested I make an appointment with a doctor, which I did. Further testing concluded I indeed had diabetes.

I sought a second opinion from a specialist, as I was in denial that this could be happening to me. Before my appointment, I researched a lot of information and was still under the hope the previous evaluations were incorrect.

The doctor and I reviewed the symptoms, to which I reported I didn’t recall experiencing. The only indication that I could see was my recent unexplained weight loss of 25 pounds. However, I thought this was just due to my increased exercise routine of being a cyclist and runner. It wasn’t until my follow-up appointment with the endocrinologist that reality set in. My blood tests were again positive for type 1 diabetes.

As of January 2011, a new chapter in my life began. There have been ups and downs along the way. I’ve learned a lot and still have a lot to learn about myself and life with diabetes, but I’ve come to terms with my “special pancreas” and have developed a great support group of family and friends. I think listening is important. As a person with diabetes, you have good and bad days, and it’s nice to know that your family and friends are there for you to vent those frustrations and to celebrate those victories. From the beginning of my diagnosis, my family and friends have been learning about diabetes alongside of me.

I was having breakfast with my parents one morning, and my mom had prepared a sugar-free breakfast. She commented, “If you have to go through this, we will suffer along with you.” The encouragement I receive cannot be measured. Days when I’m down, they are there to lift my spirits and motivate me to stay in control and not be defeated by diabetes.

Diabetes has not stopped me from my physical activity routine. I still try my best to include some type of exercise most days of the week and am now even more physically fit than I was before my diagnosis.

I’ve discovered that educating myself about diabetes helps with any struggles I face. Knowledge is power, and the more knowledge I gain proves that I can maintain control. I receive newsletters from various organizations that contain updated news and tips for healthy living. When it comes to eating, I follow healthy food blogs, search for healthy food alternatives and read product labels.

Staying positive and having a good attitude have also helped me defeat daily struggles. I cannot and will not allow diabetes to control my life. Currently, I can report that my glucose levels are better than before, and I am living life the best I can. There is a whole world of things to experience, and there should be no limitations stopping me from experiencing them.

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25 Responses to Talking Type 1: Andy McAllister

  1. Steve says:

    Nice to hear you didn’t let this diagnosis stop you! Diabetes is a great catalyst for change!

    • Andy McAllister says:

      Thanks for the support! I agree, and It has definitely changed my life in various ways. Keep focusing on the positives outcomes in life!

  2. David Lewis says:

    I was diagnosed in 2008 at 31 during a physical for Airborne school, a month after a very long deployment to Afghanistan. I was at the time the most physically fit I have ever been in my life. I am still in the Army, because in 2009 it was determined that I was still fit for duty. It has been a real challenge for me, but I am thankful I had the military health system to lean on, instead of being on my own. I finally have an insulin pump and CGM, and that has completely changed my life.

    I recently became aware that there is a cycling team composed solely of Type-1 diabetics, and as I’ll be out of the Army soon it is my #1 priority to try to be on that team.

    Keep up the good work, Andy. We’re all in this together.

    • Andy McAllister says:

      David,

      First of all, thank you for your service to our country and protecting the rights we hold dear! I’m glad to read of positive results. I know many of us find it hard to keep control, but I can only imagine the difficulty of maintaining that control while serving the in the military. Having a great support system does make it easier!

      I have also heard of Team Type 1 and the great work they do to bring awareness of diabetes. I wish you the best of luck in joining the team! Thanks again for your support!

  3. I was diagnosed at age 24. I was at a physical for a new job. Changing your life to meet the new needs of your body is challenging but is possible. All of the symptoms I had I I could associate with everyday life. Nobody wants to be sick at least we have something we can live with. To be honest I think my mom and sisters took the news worse than me. There ate groups out there that can also be an excellent part of your team. There are particular ones I recomend to both new amd older diagnosis of diabetes. Some offer info and others help with meds. It is nice to know there is support out there for us.. It is even nicer to help others. Keep up the great work!

    • Andy McAllister says:

      Abigail,

      I agree, that finding a support system is beneficial. Whether it be family or groups, I urge everyone living a life with diabetes to find one. You’re not alone!

      Thanks for the support!

  4. jennifer becker says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. I too was diagnosed late (38) I’m planning on running a 1/2 Marathon in Jan and would like to know your strategy for managing your glucose with long distance runs. I have discovered that it surprisingly will go up sometimes. Wishing you continued health.

    • Andy McAllister says:

      Jennifer,

      Before I go out for runs, I first keep account of my glucose levels for that day. From there, I plan any pre-run snacks or meals (pending on the time of day I plan to run) that will keep me “fueled” for my run and help maintain a safe glucose level.

      Snacks my consist of an apple, banana, berries, small serving of peanuts, and/or just some form of healthy carb that doesn’t spike my glucose levels. Any meals before my run, I look for something that doesn’t set heavy on my stomach. Perhaps some vegetables, lean protein source, or even a protein shake with healthy ingredients in the mix. Ha! I don’t recommend running with a heavy food filled stomach, as the results may not “settle well” but yet enough food that helps to maintain energy.

      I also typically take a protein bar or 2 on hand during my runs or when I’m out cycling. If I feel hungry or experience any low glucose symptoms, I have something near me that can help prevent this before I “run” into any trouble with my levels.

      As well, the most important, is to consume plenty of water before, during, and after your run. Hydration I have found helps keep my levels in balance as well.

      I can only say these techniques I have found work best for me, and you know your body the best and how it reacts when on those runs. Smart planning is the key overall.

      Thanks for the support and I wish you the best of luck on 1/2 marathon!

  5. Kati Holmes says:

    I too was diagnosed @ the age of 25 with Type 1 . It changes your life but also having family and friends too get you thru helps out ! I almost lost my life in the battle after being diagnosed with type 2. After a week in the hospilal 2 days were in ICU , it changed everything to eating & fitness !

    • Andy McAllister says:

      Kati,

      I’m glad to read you are now doing well! It is a life altering experience! Keep up the fight!

  6. doug says:

    Andy,

    I was diagnosed at age 31. 17 years later I am in the best shape of my life. I do a lot of bike riding and have found a few snacks and sports drinks to help increase my endurance and avoid crashing will riding (in more ways than one). I found great help at a store that caters to triathletes. I always take a meter with me and make sure to have plenty of gels and bars on board. I did the century in Tour De Cure this year.

    You can maintain a physically active life style with diabetes. Keep riding and running!

    • American Diabetes Association says:

      Thank you for riding to Stop Diabetes, Doug!

    • Andy McAllister says:

      Doug,

      I can understand avoiding the literal and unilateral “crash” as neither welcomed experiences. I too keep a few snacks, bars, etc on hand during my rides, and my meter is near by if I need it. I also wear a silicone bracelet that identifies me as a Type 1, just in case I run into trouble while out on the road and need assistance.

      Thanks for your support!

    • David Lewis says:

      I did a century with Ride2Recovery last month. One thing I noticed is that with extreme distances like that the body keeps absorbing sugars long after you stop pedaling. Not only did I eat banana after banana along with Clif bars and Powerbars while riding, but I had to keep feeding the beast long afterward. The hypos are just as much of a risk post-ride as during!

  7. Sherry says:

    Diagnosed with type 1 at 50 years old. Interestingly enough my sister was also type 1 at about the same age. I am still struggling through each day, eat right, exercise and trying to stay positive!

    • Andy McAllister says:

      Sherry,

      Keep up the fight! You’re not alone, and we all understand that struggles when it comes to living a life with diabetes. Keep staying positive and healthy!

  8. Robert Lucke says:

    I was diagnosed at age 52 Was really sick major weight loss, blured vision, weak,thirsty,peeing all the time,now I have found the cure Bernsteins Book the Diabetes Solution saved my life , I am a top Athlete now Cycling and Nordic Ski Racing love my life today. I work with a naturalpath that is a Type 1 also , I had the pleasure of doing a Tour De Cure with a Team type 1 rider we rode 100 miles in Spokane .WA togeather in May 2012. I am 56.

  9. Charlene Brock says:

    keep up the good work Andy, we are proud of you

  10. Charlene Brock says:

    i am proud of u Andy, keep up the good work

  11. Jeff says:

    Keep up the great work! My wife was just diagnosed last month. We’re finding out just what a life changing event it truly is! But she’s a champ; she hasn’t missed a day of walking since being diagnosed and is working hard to maintain a steady diet.

    • Andy McAllister says:

      Jeff,

      Thank you for the support! I wish the very best for you and your wife, and she will have your continued support as a PWD. Diabetes changes one’s life more than others realize, and the struggles that come with it. I believe your wife is off to a good start in not letting diabetes control her. There will be ups and downs, but remember to stay positive!

      Best Wishes!

  12. Mary Lou Dene MD says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your story! I was diagnosed with type I at age 26, in the middle of my second year of med school at UK in 1986. I literally “discovered” the complications of DM in books at the same time I was leaning how to deal with the day to day life of this often roller-coaster life. It was around that time that the DCCT was underway, and since then, I can confidently say to my patients that controlling the disease TODAY does indeed make a ton of difference in all your tomorrows! Ilve about 1 mile from Lindsey Wilson here in Columbia and practice internal medicine. I am attempting another run with the newest pump and CGM sensor and just worked out in the Holloway Center. Two things, in addition to working out, carb counting, etc.,have helped me the most: 1. My personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the fact that I CAN do all things through Him, as He strengthens me, and 2. My dear husband Jerry, a real overcomer, who kept working at the post office for years after becoming a paraplegic through a C-spine injury (after falling into a mountain handgliding)….he’s now retired, but has his own Ebay business, and we are looking forward to a trip to Florida next week in his van that he drives!

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