Sunday, January 3, 2016

My Early Life,T1, Part 3

My Early Life With Type 1
........Part 3.......
I was diagnosed in 1945 at 6 years of age, and I remember when my
family visited my grandparent's house for a family reunion in 1946. My
parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts were all gathered in the
living room, and I was in an adjacent room playing with my cousins. The
door to the living room was closed, and their talking became so quiet.
I pressed my ear to the door and listened. Someone asked my parents if
I was going to die. None of my relatives knew anything about diabetes,
but they knew it was very serious, and it could lead to my death back
then. My mother said she did not know what might happen to me, and
that the doctor did not know either. The rest of their conversation is
all a blur, but hearing that part of the conversation left a permanent
impression, and a fearful memory that I will never forget. Playing with
my cousins no longer interested me that day, or the next. At six or
seven years of age, I knew something about death, and I was very
frightened.
I do not remember my relatives saying they were sorry for me, or
asking why I couldn't eat this or that. Relatives never talked to me
about diabetes until I was much older, and even then it was just a
quick "How is your diabetes?" and then the conversation changed.
People we talked to, and even friends, were not told any details about
my diabetes. I did not discuss it with my friends until I was in
college. There was still little or no knowledge about diabetes in the
general public for many years to come.
Now, in the year 2011, all the people in that living room have died.
Some of my cousins, younger than me, have also died. I am still
hanging on, and healthy, after 70 years of type 1.
We went to visit one of Mother's uncles not long after the family
reunion. It was early evening, and my aunt wanted to serve refreshments.
She took me by the hand and led me to a room down the hall. It was
kind of dark in there, but I could see well enough to eat part of the
big apple she handed me. I wasn't really hungry. I could hear the
rattling of dishes where the rest of them were having cake and
lemonade. I didn't care that they were eating their cake, I was hurt
because my aunt did not want me to be with them. I never liked her
after that visit. Of course I was permitted to join them after they
were finished, but I just wanted to go home. I never got much of an
explanation for what had happened. I suppose my aunt thought it would
be cruel to have me see them eating cake.
My doctors never told my family about the terrible complications that
type 1 diabetics could have back then. Not knowing the potential bad side
of diabetes made it much easier for all of us. Of course, I was not eating
the way I should, and there was no meter for testing blood sugar, so I'm
sure I was having poor control much of the time. There are records in
later years that show that so many type 1 diabetics died early deaths for
many years. I managed to survive and thrive, and it is difficult to say how
I managed to do so. Modern day research has shown that many of us
type 1 diabetics diagnosed so many years ago have lived very long
lives, with no serious complications. The Joslin Medalist Study in Boston
has conducted a thorough study of 1000 of us who have lived with type 1
for 50 years, or more. Many interestings things have been revealed by this
study. Dr. George King, head of the study, hopes to find the factors that
have enabled us to do so well, for so long.

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