A funny thing happened at my last blood test.
As I sat in the chair, forearm tied tightly, in anticipation of the needle that would take not one but two vials of blood from my waiting veins in search of a great A1C and a healthy cholesterol level, I quipped to the technician: “Yeah, I have crappy veins. After 25 years of this, I think they shrink away and hide the minute they sense a needle coming.”
He smiled at me. “Hmm, 25 years, huh? Yeah, I didn’t think you looked like a Type 2….”
And then he realized his gaffe, smiled weakly and returned to the work at hand.
But I knew what he meant. I didn’t fit the stereotype of the Type 2. Not that that’s a fair appraisal either. Hey, Type 2s! I’m sure you’re tired of the judgement and shaming that comes with that diagnosis. That’s a whole other topic and believe me when I say it bothers me as well.
However, now that I’m over 50, most people, when I mention that I have diabetes, assume it’s Type 2 because of my age. Which I think is really weird. And disturbing. Because isn’t the goal for all of us Type 1s to grow up and be an OLDER TYPE 1?
Welcome to my very first post of “grownupdiabetes.com”.
Full disclosure: I’m not a doctor. Nor am I a nurse or a diabetes educator, although I’ve met my fair share in the last few years And my diagnosis of Type 1 came later than most, in my 30s.
Back then, my only knowledge of diabetes was limited to a handful of people:
The girl in my kindergarten class who had “sugar”, a term that was never explained.
My close friend’s little sister, whom we’d gone on a hiking trip with the summer before, and whom I marvelled at as she took what seemed to me to be needle after needle throughout the day. I remember thinking, “I could never do that.” When her blood sugar plummeted as we got higher up the Appalachian Trail, and she guzzled a can of coke and swallowed a handful of smarties, I thought “Well, maybe that I could do…”
And then there was my mom’s dad and my dad’s mom, who both had Type 2 diabetes.
I was a mystery, at least to me, but not to the medical community. Getting diagnosed late in life isn’t that unusual apparently. Shortly after my diagnosis, a friend in his 50s was also diagnosed.
What I do remember is reading in the newspaper, about a month before my diagnosis about the results of the DCCT — a clinical trial that was to span ten years and was cut short because the results were so promising. This was the study that showed that taking four needles a day — long acting insulin at night and fast acting insulin with each meal — would do much to prevent complications down the road.
I remember reading the article and then stuck on a hospital bed in the emergency room, thinking how, um, lucky (?) I was when being told that my regimen would mean I’d take not two needles a day but four needles a day. Lucky, lucky me….
But back to why I decided to start this blog/instagram/and whatever else it turns into.
What I discovered when I started this journey, back before vlogs and youtube channels and other social media were around to guide me, was that there wasn’t a lot out there in terms of support for the older Type 1.
Of course, nowadays, if you’re a young person with diabetes or the parent of a child with diabetes, there is a ton of info available on the web.
And I get it. Children and parents of children need a TON of support. Getting a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis is daunting. Overwhelming. And at times, terrifying. If I was scared in my 30s, I can’t imagine the fear that comes with the diagnosis when you’re a toddler, or a child, or a teen. And my heart breaks for the parents, who suddenly find themselves cast in the role of nurse manager.
These days, I take most of my advice from teenagers and millennials who vlog on a daily basis.
I’ve learned a ton from these young writers who tell me where to hide my pump when heading out on the town or how and where to insert my dexcom.
But what about those of us who have been living with diabetes for not years but decades?
I’m hoping I’ll offer the middle-aged person with Type 1 diabetes both humour and honesty.
Welcome to grownupdiabetes.com