I have had this conversation more than once over the past year. I am slender, eat a healthy diet, and (as most people reading this know) don’t shy away from exercise. So my diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes has been a shock to many people, especially those who are more familiar with Type 2 and expect a diabetic to resemble Jabba the Hutt more than Princess Leia.
In many ways, I am lucky. There are far worse diseases to face; this is not a “you only have six months to live” situation. Some people are diagnosed after becoming very ill. My diabetes was initially discovered when I had a routine blood test for a physical. My pancreas still produces some insulin, so I only need to inject it when I have high carb meals. The biggest unknown for me, right now, is if/when my pancreas will give up completely.
Given all of this, it seems apt tonight to give a shout out to Mary Tyler Moore. I’m not going to pretend I’ve ever watched The Mary Tyler Moore Show, or actually find myself verklempt over her death. But the one thing I really knew about her – even before I started pricking my fingers multiple times a day – was that she, too, had T1D. Tonight I learned that we were both diagnosed while in our 30s. She managed to live close to another 50 years, and during that time was very active with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. It’s definitely an organization I need to consider adding to my charitable donations list.
While it is great to know that reaching age 80 is still a strong possibility, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that following diabetes care is draining. In addition to the blood sugar level checks, there are a host of complications I have to watch out for. I schedule more doctors appointments in a year now than I had in the previous five years combined. Certainly I will remain grateful to Mary Tyler Moore for her work with the JDRF for many years to come. I’m sure it’s easier to live with T1D now than it was 50 years ago.
So to everyone who is working to find a cure for this disease, thank you. To everyone else living with it, fist bump.