Talking Type 1: Jennifer Cuddeback

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.


 Jennifer and her family

Jennifer and her family

Name: Jennifer Cuddeback
Age: 41 (diagnosed at age 38)
Location: St. Louis, Mo.

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in November 2010 at the age of 38. And it happened in the most random of ways.

While waiting for my husband to run a half- marathon, I visited the event’s health truck, where they were offering various screenings. One of the tests was for diabetes. My blood glucose result (mg/dl) was in the 400s and my A1C was 14 percent!

Looking back, I can see that I did have symptoms of diabetes prior to my diagnosis. However, at the time, I didn’t put it all together because I was exercising a lot, therefore drinking more water and losing weight.

Within three months of starting insulin, my A1C dropped to 7.5. I am now on insulin pump therapy and have maintained an A1C of 6 for two years. I did suffer neuropathy in my legs for about a year. This was the worst pain I have ever felt.

I already was a healthy eater and regular exerciser, so my lifestyle didn’t have to change much once I was diagnosed. That said, I do miss the days of working out without worrying about going low. Also, as a vegetarian, my diet contains many whole grains and beans; I find it a challenge to keep my meals around 30 to 40 grams of carbs. I also love to bake and have started getting used to the fact that I can’t eat everything I bake anymore.

For those people out there who are newly diagnosed, I would like them to know that while it is scary and a huge undertaking to keep your life in check, diabetes is manageable. I had to go through a mourning process and come out the other side before I could tackle this head on. It helps to be open with your family as much as possible. I struggle with not wanting to burden them with my issues, while at the same time wanting to inform them if I don’t feel well or am extra-cranky because my blood glucose is high/low.

If you take diabetes seriously, you can have a normal life. I am an active person and don’t shy away from something because I have type 1 diabetes. For example, since my diagnosis, I have participated twice as the swimmer of a triathlon team!

To those without diabetes, know that those of us with it have a constant struggle on our hands. While it may not be outwardly obvious, we have to constantly be in tune with our body. I now have to consciously think about what I am eating and how my body will react if I exercise. I have to wonder, will I go low if I eat lunch and then go run errands? Diabetes is a constant and, if not managed properly, can have serious consequences.

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5 Responses to Talking Type 1: Jennifer Cuddeback

  1. Deidre Waxman says:

    Diagnosed myself at age 60 with LADA. Late life and aging as a brand new Diabetic presents with a variety of challenges for me and my family.

    • Bill Elliot says:

      A new medication will be approved by the FDA in treating diabetes at the very latest in July of this year. It is inhaled insulin
      Ultra-rapid-acting Afrezza will replace needle-based, slower-acting insulin for long-term diabetics in at least one meal out of five, 20% of the long-term diabetic market.
      Afrezza will become the insulin of choice with at least 50% of new diabetics starting insulin therapy.

  2. KAREN NEWE says:

    Thank you for sharing. Diagnosed this year at 51. I too worry about going low when I exercise. Last night my husband was down about all this and I reassured him that this is just my “new normal”. I am doing great.

  3. Doug Whitlock says:

    Watching Jen tackle this challenge and succeed has been inspirational. You are a great example for your family. Love, your husband, Doug.

  4. Wilma Whitlock says:

    You are truly a fighter. I know it has not been easy and it has been a challenge to you. You have set the example that it can be control. I know as other read your story that it will a encouragement to them.
    Love-n-Prayers, your mother-in-law, Wilma

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