My Life With Type 1
It was August of 1970 Anita and I were in Kingston, NY, far from familiar surroundings in Virginia. People talked so differently! We walked into a little shop and the young woman at the counter asked "Can I help yous?" What did she say? I thought "yous" might be like a plural for "you". I had never heard that word before. I talked with a southern drawl, and people told me I sounded like Andy Griffith, and Jimmy Stewart. After 45 years of living in NY I still have a little of that southern accent. You can take an ole' boy out of the south, but you cannot take the south out of the boy.
I was nervous about teaching in a NY college. The students had a much better high school background than most of my students in the southern colleges. High schools in the north are typically given much higher ratings than those in southern states. My fringe benefits package in NY was vastly superior to what I had in the south. In all the colleges in which I taught in the south the fringe benefits were very poor and almost nonexistent. During the beginning weeks of my first year teaching there there was a strike by the teaching staff at my college. I could not believe it! The best salary and fringe benefits I had ever imagined, and the faculty wanted more, along with higher salaries. I could not relate to any of that. I explained my feelings, and my fellow faculty members seemed to understand, but classes were not held while faculty picketed in front of the college. I did not participate in the picket lines. I just watched. Some of the faculty members were arrested and jailed for one night. The community college is a state college, and striking by faculty is illegal in NY State. I was happy that I was not arrested, but I was sorry for my friends who spent the night in jail. After a week or so the bargaining between the faculty and the county ended. Fringe benefits were even better, and there were faculty wage increases of 20% retroactive for the preceding year, and another 20% for the year in progress. The faculty won at the bargaining table, big time! I got the benefit of the raise for the current year, and that was a big bonus that I felt I did not deserve. I did not participate in the strike in any way. If a faculty in a southern college even talked about striking, heads would roll and it would never take place. Things were sure different in New York.
My years of teaching at Ulster County Community College were very enjoyable. My diabetes gave me very little problem. Dr. B. became my doctor in the late 1970's, and my diabetes control routine changed drastically. I started carb counting in the late 1980's, but was not keeping any logs until a few years later. I had much lower test results with the use of a glucose monitor. I eventually adjusted to lower blood sugar, and my diabetes health was improving. I had more frequent hypos though, and that was a major concern. My A1c's were taken in the mid 1980's, and they gradually improved. Dr. B. knew that I had frequent hypos, and in the late 1990's he had me use an NPH/Humalog mix. I had many highs and lows, but better A1c's because the high and low readings gave a good average blood sugar level and good A1c's. I think I may have had A1c's in the 7's at that time. I eventually convinced Dr. B. to let me use separate vials of NPH and Humalog. That way I could take meal boluses with my Humalog, and my carb counting could really help me. Dr. B. had hesitated to do this because he thought that my taking separate doses of Humalog would give me even more hypos. He was right. I had some very serious hypos, and there were 3 or 4 visits to my home by the paramedics. On one occasion I spent a couple of days in the hospital. Dr. B. knew about the hospital episode, but I did not tell him about the other hypos. I did not want him to take my Humalog away from me. My A1c's were in the 6's and still improving.
In the mid 1990's I had a new problem. I had been gaining weight with these new modern day insulins. That had actually started in the early part of that decade. By the mid 1990's I had gained 57 pounds. I worked so hard to keep my weight under control, but I kept on gaining. I had been running a lot of high blood sugar, and I had increased my dosage by 40%. My next A1c was much higher. In 1998 Dr. B. had new blood tests done which showed I was experiencing insulin resistance. That is a Type 2 symptom. At that time I was a Type 1 with a Type 2 symptom. A type 1 with insulin resistance is a "double diabetic". That does not mean I was both Type 1 and Type 2. I was autoimmune, and my pancreas did not produce insulin. That clearly made me Type 1, and not Type 2. Many Type 1 people have insulin resistance.
My performance on campus was not so good in the mid 1990's because of these new developments. I felt so run down, and I became tired so easily. My energy was zapped after my morning classes. I still had afternoon classes, and on some days, evening classes to teach. It was just not possible for me to have any enthusiasm when I met those later classes. I had nothing left in me. My last good year was 1993. After that year everything went steadily downhill. I was 54 and I had intended to retire when I was 62 so I could start drawing social security. We were heavily in debt. We had put both of our sons through six years of college. I taught lots of overload and summer school in order to finance their education, but my earnings were not enough. We took out a second mortgage on our home, and we borrowed money until we were not permitted to borrow any more. Our sons had their MS degrees and good jobs. That was very important to us. I struggled with my teaching until 1997. Then something wonderful happened. The county offered retirement incentives to retiring faculty members. I announced my retirement, and I received 70% of my annual salary as an incentive. That enabled us to pay off all our remaining debts. I retired in June of that year and we were out of debt. A miracle just when I needed it. I still had higher than usual A1c's and a roller coaster type of control. I continued part time teaching. We needed that extra money until I qualified for social security. I desperately needed to lose weight, and get better control.
In the very late 1990's Dr. B. told me there was a new med called Avandia being used in Europe. It was not yet introduced in this country because there was a chance it caused liver damage. By 1999 it was considered safe, and I started taking Avandia tablets twice per day. In just a few days I started improving. My insulin dosages returned to normal. A few weeks later I had regained my energy. My part time teaching was fun, and my teaching improved. I almost wanted to become full time again, but that was impossible. My full time position had been filled, and I would also have to give up my retirement income if I was full time again. I was happy, I felt great, and I was really enjoying my retirement. My weight was my only big problem at that time.
In the early 1980's we decided we needed mortgage insurance on our home. I went to a local insurance company, and they told me it would require a physical examination. A very old semi-retired doctor had me fill out a form. He asked me for a urine sample. He tested the urine with the special tape used for that purpose, and it turned a dark green. That indicated high urine sugar. He said he could not recommend me for mortgage insurance based on that urine test. He walked outside with me, and we stood by my car. At that time I had a been diabetic for about 35 years. He told me that I was very lucky to have lived so long without complications. He went on to say he had known another male diabetic like me who was doing very well, but had high urine sugar almost all the time. Less than one year after he had seen the man he developed kidney failure, and was going blind because of his diabetes. The doctor told me I should not expect to live much longer than I had at that time. He wanted me to prepare for dying. This reminded me of the doctor visit in Richmond, VA when I was told I should not expect to live beyond my 40's. I paid very little attention to this doctor with his antiquated ideas. The next day I went to the local Metropolitan Life building. They called Dr. B. on the phone, and they learned that I was doing very well after 35 years of diabetes without complications. They offered me a mortgage insurance policy. We also got one for my wife. I wish I had gone to Metropolitan in the first place. The insurance policies gave us peace of mind. We never had to use them. Our house was fully paid for in August of 1995.