Talking Type 1: Rich White

Think type 1 diabetes is just for kids? Think again.

Because it was thought to only strike children and teens, type 1 was known as juvenile diabetes for a long time. The truth is a growing number of adults are being diagnosed with it in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond.

All week long, we will present stories from adults who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, describing the emotions and frustrations that came with their experiences. Each person defines success in different ways, but they all celebrate the triumphs that have helped them reach their goal of living well with diabetes.


rich whiteName: Rich White
Age: 41 (diagnosed at age 36)
Location: Eastlake, Ohio

I was 36 years old when I was first tried to self/Google-diagnose, then was misdiagnosed with type 2 diabetes, then ultimately properly diagnosed as an adult with type 1 diabetes.

I travel a lot for work, and during one of my trips from Cleveland to Cincinnati I noticed I was drinking water like a fish and stopping at every rest stop along the way. That evening after I reached my hotel I hopped on the internet looking for answers. I quickly came up with diabetes; being woefully ignorant of the disease, I didn’t believe my findings. I was 6 feet and 165 pounds! Not what most people picture when they think of diabetes.

So I went to a nearby pharmacy and bought a meter. Back at my hotel, armed with this meter, I attempted to get my blood glucose readings. It kept telling me “HI” and I interpreted this as the stupid meter saying hello and starting up!

I returned to the pharmacy and bought a different meter, and on my second try I finally got that number: 485 mg/dl!

Again, having no knowledge of the disease, I was not alarmed. On my way back to Cleveland the following day, I made an appointment with my general practitioner. My numbers were in the 500 range at this point, so she promptly had me admitted to the ER to get them down. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

I was referred to an endocrinologist, but my appointment was two weeks away, and in the interim I had a handful of daily pills to take. I went on my vacation to Disney World, and by the second day I was convinced my life was going to suck! Despite walking miles and miles a day and avoiding carbs like the plague I couldn’t get my numbers below 250 mg/dl. I thought, “How am I going to do this in my normal day-to-day life?”

When I met with my endocrinologist I was finally properly diagnosed with type 1. I tossed the pills and the books on type 2 my wife had bought. Equipped with my Lantus and Novolog pens I quickly got into normal range. These days I have my trusty pump and life is good.

I’m glad now I was originally misdiagnosed, as I think it gave me a better insight into diabetes overall and how people with type 1 and type 2 face challenges both similar and different.

Today my life is pretty much back to normal. Diabetes is just a part of my life and I don’t really think about it as much as some would imagine. I have my highs and lows, both mentally and with blood glucose, but all in all life is good. This is largely due to the technology and medicine available today.

I’ve read and heard from some people who have lived with this for 10 years or more … and WOW is all I can say! And for those living 30 years, 40 years and more—kudos to you!


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2 Responses to Talking Type 1: Rich White

  1. So glad that you were finally correctly diagnosed. I too am type 1 and have been for 57 years. I know that the pump has really helped me for many years now. Sounds like you’re doing well. Keep up your good work in controlling this disease.

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