Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Long Term Success With Type 1 Diabetes

I have been type 1 for 68 years, and I do not have any serious diabetes related complications. While participating in the Joslin medalist type 1 study in Boston, I was told that several participants freely admitted that they do not take good care of themselves, and they eat a lot of food containing sugar, and other fast acting carbs. Despite their bad eating habits, they do not have any complications after many years of type 1. All of the 900+ participants have been type 1 for at least 50 years, and are US citizens. I was also told by the lady in charge during my participation that several participants had used tight control, but have still experienced some serious complications. These are that exceptions to the rule. The majority of the participants in this study have done at least reasonably well with their control, and they do not have any serious complications.

In the Joslin Medalist Study, Dr. King did discuss the "special inner protection" that so many medalists have. He said that this mysterious protection seems to protect us against serious problems with our eyes, kidneys, and our nervous systems,,,,but not our hearts. He wanted us to know that we should take every precaution to keep our hearts healthy. There is a secret group on Facebook called "The Joslin Medalists" where many members have posted about their stents, bypass surgeries, heart attacks, etc...but these same people have good eyesight and healthy kidneys.

After almost 60 years of type 1, I was diagnosed with spots of retinopathy, and neuropathy. My A1c had been in the range 5.4-6.0 for many years, but I still had these complications. My control involved too many highs and lows, a roller coaster type of control. Those highs and lows can produce an average which is quite good, so the A1c will also be good. That can give us a sense of false security. The roller coaster control is traumatic to our bodies, and complications can result, even though the A1c is good. I started pumping insulin in 2007, and my control was much more stable, with not so many highs and lows. The retinopathy disappeared, and has been gone for seven years. The neuropathy is still present, but it rarely bothers me now. Avoiding complications seems to require a good A1c, and more stability with not so many highs and lows. If I had started pumping in the 1990's I may not have had any complications at all.

I read an article a few years ago that said the life expectancy of young type 1 diabetics in the US is almost as good as for non
diabetics. That is very encouraging news!!


  1. When I first read those words "...but not our hearts.", I thought you meant that in a metaphorical sense, not a physical one.

    But your message is an important one. Whether or not we feel we have this "special inner protection", we still need to take care of ourselves.

  2. So I saw your post at Children with diabetes, and was wondering if you had any advice we as parents could pass on to our kids. My son was diagnosed 7 months ago at age 11.