Monday, April 11, 2011

I is for Insulin (Dependent Diabetes & Insulin Pump)


My theme for the A to Z Challenge: Desert Canyon Living

It has been wonderful to read your comments about my life here in the canyon. I'm happy you have enjoyed the landscape, the clouds, the dogs, donkeys, and so on. But I can't really write about my life in the canyon without talking about my insulin-dependent diabetes. Diabetes is not the focus of my life, but it does require constant vigilance and is, therefore, a huge and dominant part of it. 

I was diagnosed with Type 1, insulin-dependent, diabetes in February of 1990, when I was 49. Only 10% of people with diabetes have Type 1, which was earlier called juvenile diabetes since it most often strikes children and young adults. I am proof that older people also get it. Type 1 is an auto-immune illness, Type 2 is not. 

The first ten years were pretty much a nightmare of high sugars, low sugars, and insulin reactions (sudden and dangerous drops in blood sugars). Then in the year 2000, I got my first insulin pump and my life went through a total transformation. Needless to say, so did the lives of my husband and our pets -- they got to live with an almost normal person again. In 2008 my insulin pump got upgraded to the latest model of the Medtronic MiniMed pump, with all the bells and whistles available at the time. 

These are my diabetes management tools:


Glucose meter and test strips. I check my blood sugars about seven times a day. Most people don't check that often, but I can't live without this device and if I ever forget it at home, I tend to panic. 


Insulin pump, insulin and various medical supplies necessary to make it work. I replace the insulin reservoir every three days. I fill a new reservoir with insulin and insert one end in the pump and the other in my stomach area. This is not a big deal; it does not hurt, and only takes about 15 minutes for the whole procedure. And once the pump is back on, you completely forget you are wearing it.


Emergency supplies. I find glucose tablets to be very reliable to counteract an insulin reaction (a dangerous drop in blood sugars). They live on my night stand and I never leave home without them. The dog tag is from Medic Alert and contains the necessary information about my medical conditions. 

Having diabetes is not entirely without benefits:

  • I stopped smoking more than 17 years ago.
  • My diet has greatly improved and so has my general health.
  •  I walk and/or hike with my dogs almost every day. I doubt I would push myself as hard to exercise if I didn't have diabetes.
What I don't like about diabetes: Type 1 diabetes is relentless and does not give you a break. Not ever. You can never let up your vigilance and being spontaneous is practically impossible.
What I wish people would understand:  Type 1 diabetes is very different from Type 2. When people talk about diabetes, they usually refer to Type 2. That's what about 90% of diabetics have, so it's understandable, but it is not what I have.
What's weird:  As your sugars get more normal, there is always the risk of them going too low. Passing out from low blood sugars could have dire consequences, especially for someone who lives alone.
What I'm afraid of: Having low blood sugars in the night, while alone.
What diabetes has taught me: I can make it through the night.
What is most difficult: To not take my low blood sugar drama/trauma out on my dogs or my husband.
What else have I learned: I can't expect anyone to understand what this is like. 
What I can't live without: My glucose meter and test strips. And insulin, of course.
What I would do if I didn't have diabetes for one day:  Walk barefoot in dewy green grass (if I could find some), or on the beach.

If you have made it to here, I thank you. There will be more pretty canyon/dog pictures in future A to Z posts, but this is a part of me. I is for I am, for Inger, my name, for Insulin, without which I would not live. I am very grateful for it and for all the improvements that have been made in the past century, even in the 20 years I have had diabetes.

31 comments:

  1. Thanks for the look at your life complicated by Diabetes. I can't begin to imagine those fears and the daily (hourly) vigilance.
    I have recently had burning pain in two of my toes. My Doctor's first reaction was to test for Diabetes. I guess that would be Type 2. Evidently the tests came back OK as she hasn't called me.
    A colleague had Type 1 Diabetes and her life became a whole bunch easier when she got her pump. She felt like a new person once she was relieved of the chore of insulin shots.

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  2. I admire your attention to your health and being so proactive about making things better for you and your family. Take care of yourself! And thanks for visiting my blog!

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  3. My brother has diabetes and NEVER talks about it. The old silence is golden adage I guess...so I suspect he has Type 2...I know I should know but he won't talk.
    Anyway,yes Sophie is always ahead on the walks but when an unsuspecting 'treat laden' lady comes near she turns into a whirling dervish and the chance of injuries is heightened. It's amazing how it all happens so quickly.
    Thanks for the explicit rundown on diabetes...helps us to put it into a much more clear view!

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  4. Interesting post, sure learnt a lot. Thanks, Inger!

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  5. I think that it takes a very special kind of courage to live with a disease like that, Inger. Many of us can be brave in the instant, but, you have to live with this day in and day out. It has to wear on you, at times, but you rarely show it. You just go on, living life to the fullest and sharing it with us. I admire that, and don't know if I could do it.

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  6. you always present your diabetes info as factual and straight-forward and never in a complaining way or looking for sympathy or whatever. i always appreciate that about you. i'm grateful that medical advancements have made things easier for you, but obviously vigilence is key. good post!

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  7. I have a good friend whose son has diabetes. It's been a rollercoaster for them but it's getting a little easier now that he's a teen. It's great that you've made so many healthy lifestyle changes as a result!

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  8. I hadn't realized how much one has to deal with when dealing with diabetes until now. Sounds as though your system works well for you and am happy that you have it under control:)

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  9. Thank you for sharing this, and for doing it so articulately. I admire the way you are so vigilant about your diabetes. The blackouts must be so scary. My mom had them twice and they put us in panic mode.

    Stay healthy, Inger:)

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  10. Inger, That is such a well-written post. You explain it in such clear sentences. Not a lot of gobbledy Gook medical terms. You handle it so beautifully and are well adjusted and go on with living. I applaud you, my dear.

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  11. Thank you, Inger. Someone close to me was diagnosed with diabetes recently and I have had to go thru an education on the subject. God bless you.

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  12. Thank you for educating me on this subject about which I knew absolutely nothing. This is a wonderful post about you. I'm sure all of us feel even closer to you now. It is true: no one can understand what it is like unless they too have the same health issue. I admire your intelligence and self-discipline in starting on new healthy lifestyle habits and ways of living. Hope you are having as good a day as you possibly can in your beautiful canyon with your delightful family! Hope the other two-legged member is having a good day, too!

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  13. My partner is type 2 diabetes and even that is a pain in the rump but nothing compared to type 1 as your post demonstrates... next time he winges about his meds I might just point him to your post lol xx

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  14. Thank you, thank you for your kind comments. My eyes are full of tears because I thought that only my closest blogger friends would be interested in this post. I am deeply touched that so many of you already have left comments and if I can help anyone with this post I am happy.

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  15. Dear Inger--I have type 2 diabetes & only check my blood sugars once or twice a day. When they drop to between 45 & 60 I get cold sweats & feel very punchy. I cannot imagine having to watch them as closely as you do. I guess you do what you have to do--it becomes part of your life but it does NOT determine who or what you are. You are handling your disease with dignity & courage. I applaud you for that!! Take care--I love you----Fran

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  16. I am glad you are vigilant about testing your blood sugar. You are a credit to the blogging community Inger. Your blog allows us to learn so much about you as well as the beautiful area in which you live. Thank you for sharing so openly.

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  17. A very enlightening post on diabetes type one thanks for posting.

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  18. I have a childhood friend who has had diabetes her whole life. I have seen so much of what she has had to deal with on a day to day. I know it must be an ever present thought in each moment of your life Inger. But I love how positive your attiude is :)

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  19. Hi Inger. Thanks for this informative post on Diabetes. My Mom had type 2, and it was horrible in itself. She was in her thirties when she found out she had it. My sister is a brittle diabetic and she has had those nights of extreme low blood sugars and her levels are always up and down. My niece has had it since she was a child (type 1) and she just gave birth to an almost ten pound baby a few days ago. Her sugar dropped extremely low while in labor, and she had to be pumped with sugar, now the baby's sugar is low and it is in ICU. We are hoping she gets home soon but first she needs to be regulated.

    Inger, you are such an inspiration!! You take such good care of yourself, and you keep active. This is why you look so good!! My family > none of them take or took care of themselves like they should. My heart goes out to you and anyone who suffers from this illness.

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  20. I admire your courage, acceptance, and perservance, Inger. I have two sisters and a niece with diabetes. For all the publicity about diabetes few non-sufferers know much about a disease that forces dramatic life changes that become routine. Bravo, Inger, for speaking out and helping others to understand.

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  21. Thank you for posting this. I have a couple of friends who use an insulin pump and they say it has changed their lives and they love it.

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  22. Inger, I learned so much about diabetes by reading this so for that, I thank you. You are an inspiration! It's so good to be back home and have the internet!!!..:)JP

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  23. Inger,
    Thank you so much for your honest and heart felt post. I learned a great deal about diabetes and applaud your courage to keep positive and keep moving! I admire you!

    http://sbpra.com/tracyspaine/

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  24. Yikes, Inger! That is a lot to deal with. You are a strong woman. But we knew that already. Hugs.

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  25. This is an amazing post. What an eye opener. The grace and control that you have shown in dealing with your disease is very inspiring.
    I am so glad for you that the pump has made your life better and I hope with the research going on now that there will someday be a cure. It will happen.

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  26. I honor your decision to talk about diabetes...it is one of the silent diseases that people can't "see" and thus don't often understand. Your positive yet realistic post is inspiring.

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  27. Beautiful dogs!!! I love your site and as I browsed your blog I decided to award you the Powerful Woman Writer Award.
    Go to http://astorybookworld.blogspot.com/p/awards.html and pick up your award.
    ~Deirdra

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  28. Hej Inger,
    What a great blog post -- I'm sure it's an eye opener for many, the difference between type 1 and 2. How unusual to get type 1 at that age!

    I really enjoyed reading this post, even if I always enjoy your posts. It was so interesting to learn a little more about you as a person.

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  29. oh wow. i have a friend with diabetes, and know she too much check her sugar and be vigilant about weight and exercise, but honestly i've never asked her which type it was. i've never given much thought about the differences! i have some questions for her now...

    our first pug was diabetic. we had to give him insulin twice a day. although we didn't have to check his levels. that's something they did at the vet every six months. he went blind his last few years of life. i certainly hope you can keep yours in check to avoid some of the side affects.

    thanks for sharing such personal and informative details of your life with us. God bless.

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  30. Thanks for posting and educating us about the different types of diabetes. It helps to understand the difference and to make lives better for those around us who have either disease. Take care... keep blogging...

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  31. You taught me some things about diabetes type 1 as I have type 2. i agree that having diabetes is often the push one needs to stop harmful habits. i'm grateful for what i'm learning and grateful that i don't have type 1. i see that your regimen is much more srict than mine. you are doing well.

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Thanks for leaving a comment.. ~~ Inger

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