Thursday, September 22, 2011

66 Years With Type 1 Diabetes

My name is Richard Vaughn, and I was born in Roanoke, VA in 1939. After several childhood illnesses, including chickenpox and mumps,  I was diagnosed with diabetes in 1945. There was very little known about diabetes back then, and the only advice the doctor gave was to avoid food containing sugar. The insulin prescribed came from pigs and cows, there was no other type of insulin for many years after that. My father used a glass syringe to give me my injections until I was 10, and then I began taking my own injections. There was no device for measuring blood sugar at home. My urine was tested every morning in a test tube placed in boiling water on our stove. With one urine test and one injection per day, my diabetes life began. There were frequent seizures that frightened me and my family, but we had no way of controlling my blood sugar levels, so the problems continued for many years.

I managed to work my way through school and six years of college, even though my diabetes interfered in many ways. It was difficult since modern day knowledge was not available. There was no knowledge of proper diabetes management until several decades later. Teaching mathematics at the college level was my chosen profession. I was married in 1964, and we had two sons born in 1966 and 1969. My sons and none of my relatives have type 1 diabetes.

In 1988, forty three years after my diagnosis, I read an article that stated that diabetics should restrict their carbohydrate intake. My doctors had never told me about this. There were many things I had to learn on my own.

I retired from teaching in 1997, and in 2006 I joined a diabetes website for the first time. At least 80% of my knowledge about diabetes has come from the many diabetes websites I have joined, and research done online. On sevetal members asked me to tell them how it was to have diabetes in the 1940s and beyond. I wrote a series of 20 blogs that covered my life with diabetes until that time. There were many replies to my blogs, and it was suggested that I should expand my story and publish. In March, 2010, my book was published on My updated number of sales (March 15, 2012) on and Kindle is 387 copies.

Here is the link to my amazon page:

Amy Tenderich, an award winning diabetes blogger, has reviewed my book. Hete is the link:

After 66 years of type 1 diabetes I am very healthy, and do not have any diabetes related complications, except for mild nerve damage. Long term type 1 diabetics like me are being studied at the Joslin Diabetes Center, in Boston. I participated in the study in 2009. It is hoped that the factors enabling us to have long, healthy lives can be found. If the study is successful, then maybe a treatment can be developed that would help younger diabetics to have long lives without serious complications.