Recently we asked our Facebook community to tell us about people who have lived long and well with diabetes – people who have lived 20, 30 or even 40 years or more with the disease. Having received a lot of great responses, we’re privileged to present these favorites on the blog this week. We’re hope you’re as inspired by these personal stories as we are!
Name: Chris Coleman
Age: 54 (diagnosed at 8)
Location: Fitchburg, Mass.
Soon I will mark my 46th “diaversary” with type 1 diabetes. Right now, I’m healthy and doing fairly well through a lot of both hard work and luck. With me in the photo is my son, who’s had T1D for 10 years. It truly is a long road with few and painfully short breaks—if there are any at all.
Diabetes has definitely affected my relationship with my son. It’s been difficult in some ways and great in others. He gets my support, but still, I’m a dad and I like to offer up stories like “you know in my day, we only had Tab [to help correct blood glucose lows], and we liked it, dagnamit.”
We have an advantage in having other supplies to go to if there is a problem. We also have a close relationship when complications crop up. We understand what a high or a low feels like and can empathize with one another.
I also am not all over him when there’s a high reading. Of course there’s a degree of “well, yeah, that isn’t good…” for certain behaviors. But I also know that treating abnormal blood glucose readings as something done wrong will cause kids with diabetes to hide them. You don’t yell at your kid for a temperature, so there’s no need to yell about a high glucose number.
My son’s diagnosis was a very important incentive to take care of myself and my own diabetes. I am his example now. Doctors can say almost anything, but the examples at home are the best examples to go by.
All parents of children with type 1 should realize that their kids are going to deal with their condition as their parents do. If the parents worry a lot, the kids will. If the parents don’t care, neither will the kids.
I’ve seen a lot in the last 46 years. Since I was diagnosed, the biggest improvement to diabetes management has to be the blood glucose monitor. Back in my day, it was urine testing with pills dropped into a water-urine mix. That was incredibly outdated, using information hours old and potentially very incorrect. Even against the faster insulins and the pump, knowing where you are with your blood glucose is still the most important piece of knowledge to have.
If you’re new to diabetes, know that you’re far from alone. A lot of times, that doesn’t mean much. But for every problem you’ve had, someone else has had the same situation and has (or hasn’t) dealt with it. Whether you need a word of encouragement or something more substantial, there are people there who can help you.