I’ve lived with type 1 diabetes for much of my life. Having lived with diabetes for 6 decades now, I’ve had the unique opportunity to observe how diabetes management has changed over the years. Back in 1960, the only way to test your blood sugar was through a urine sample. Times have certainly changed since then!
Having diabetes for as long as I can remember, the way that I have managed it over the years has been no easy feat. There have been times throughout my diabetes journey that I managed it better and worse. In my early years, my mother and father helped me stay on track, but when I headed to college, my diabetes management took a backseat, and I wasn’t really prioritizing it as much as I should have.
Living with diabetes has been a challenge at times, such as when I was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy. My symptoms did not come on all at once but were gradual. I worked in the agriculture industry for most of my working life and noticed when I was walking across the fields that I could see branch-like figures in the distance, even though I knew there weren’t any trees in the field. Since my diagnosis, I’ve undergone several laser treatments in both of my eyes and I now stay on top of my eye health by getting a comprehensive eye exam every year.
In addition to receiving a comprehensive eye exam every year, I also have an extensive diabetes care team made up of a family doctor, endocrinologist, diabetic nurse, diabetic dietician, optometrist, and ophthalmologist who all work together to help me stay on track. I also have an incredible support system made up of my wife, Bernice, and my 3 children and 6 grandchildren! I do not let my diabetes control my life but taking a proactive approach to managing my health has empowered me to spend more quality time enjoying the things I love most.
Diabetes affects everyone differently, which is why my advice to people living with diabetes is to listen to your body. While my diabetes and eye health journey has had its ups and downs, the guidance I receive from my diabetes care team and the support I get from my family and friends has helped me stay on track. By making your health a priority you can too!