I have Type 1 diabetes. Every day I get out of bed, I exercise, I eat well, I manage my condition to the best of my ability and I love my life. Certainly, 100 or even 50 years ago, my quality of life would not have been what it is today, without medical research and the availability of one simple drug.
That simple drug is insulin. At 10 years old, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease. When I was 10, my own body attacked the cells of my pancreas that produce insulin. As a result, I have to inject insulin, every day — several times per day.
Most people don’t think about their food very much. When they are hungry, most just put food in their mouth. The body does the rest. Perhaps triathletes more than others realize a healthy diet makes a healthy person. But unfortunately, I have to be a little more precise in my healthy eating. With each bite I put in my mouth, I must do a calculation in my head: I’m about to eat 45 grams of carbs and I just completed a 2,000-meter swim. How much insulin does that mean I have to take?
“Researchers have made it possible for people to survive Type 1 diabetes.”
Every bite, every step, every day requires a careful balance. I’m happy to report I’ve been doing this, with a fair amount of success, for 25 years since I was diagnosed. And for those 25 years I am so grateful. One bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, one terrific husband, two wonderful children, a lot of traveling, five marathons, six half marathons and six triathlons later I am still able to tell you my story.
Researchers have made it possible for people to survive Type 1 diabetes and have developed different types of insulin and ways to monitor blood sugar. Additionally, research has helped medical professionals understand how the endocrine system works. In turn, this helps people like me do those little calculations in their head. Those little bites, those little steps, they all add up. I want to make sure they add up to keeping me healthy for a very long time.
Someday, I hope those researches will develop a cure. My condition is chronic and there is no cure for Type 1 diabetes. Even though I may not see a cure in my lifetime, at least it is manageable today due to those doctors and researchers. As every day, every bite, every swim, every ride, every run requires me to be ever diligent for the remainder of my life, at least there is a remainder to live!
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