This photo is of me and my dad (yes, it was the 80s). My dad has had Type One diabetes my whole life.
My early memories of diabetes weren’t good, they were scary. My dad would have low blood sugars a lot and often need assistance. An ambulance had to come to our house more than once. I can remember my dad biting his tongue so bad during a low that there was blood all over his bed.
I used to have nightmares about getting diabetes. My dad used to always tell me there was a “one in a million” chance of me getting it. In 1988, I won the Diabetes Lottery.
Over the years, I have watched diabetes own my father. He had a brief stint working from home when he had passed out from a low, at a PGA tournament. The department of motor vehicles considered it to be a seizure and briefly suspended his driving license. He later decided to work from home full time. That fueled his “diabetes OCD”- the need to eat the same things at the same time every day. He planned any outing around his meals and his diabetes. He could not and would not go off schedule. Dinner was at 6:30pm every single night of my childhood.
My dad has always refused an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor. He would look at mine and tell me that with his “A1C under 5” he didn’t need all of that technology. Truthfully, he needed it much more than I did.
My dad has always run his blood sugars extremely low- his A1C has been in the 4s multiple times. Last year, a bad low caused him to fall, hit his head, and become unconscious. He hasn’t been the same since. He has a catheter, cannot walk without a walker, has developed MRSA, in addition to suffering brain damage and broken bones. He has been discharged to nursing homes multiple times but his diabetes is so out of control, that he is readdmitted to the hospital almost weekly. As I write this, he is currently in the hospital, finally out of ICU and in a regular room.
Diabetes is more than shots. It’s more than having Diet Coke instead of regular Coke. In an instant you are diagnosed with a life altering disease and in another instant, that same disease can kill you. It’s not all about the numbers. It’s not about having the best A1C. It’s about balance. Diabetes may be extremely loud and obnoxious but you are in charge. So in honor of my dad- eat dinner a little later today, go to church a little earlier, and have a few more Reese’s cups then you intended to.