I was discussing the differences in expectations that I started with in 1974 and the expectations of people who are diagnosed today. The differences really are like day and night. It is difficult to believe that those of us Dx’d in the early 70’s and before were ever given such advice, in light of the differences I thought today I would do a bit of comparison. But, in doing so I can only discuss what I knew. I suspect others have more or less dramatic memories. I hope if you have such memories you will share them.
Remember in 1970 we were at the “peak” of medical technology. My doctor reminded me that this was the best time in history to ever be Dx’d. I was 17 and really I thought to myself if we are at the pinnacle I am absolutely screwed.
I started on U 40 insulin and quickly (a couple of weeks) shifted to U70. I was given important instructions in using the clinitest and introduced to the recently released plastic syringe. I was taught about food exchanges, and told that p[umps may someday exist, but that it was unlikely I could ever use one. After all the pump would be implanted and would require surgery to refill the very large cartridge of insulin. If only the insulin could be developed. At any rate it was doubtful it ever would so I should get used to shots. Now I was fortunate that I was given 3 oranges (I ate 2) for injection practice. You have got to love those oranges.
On the last day of my week long visit to the hospital I was blessed to have an audience with the great local doctor who would in a way oversee my treatment. I was actually handed off to one of his compatriots who had a great way with children. That meant the doctor was female, 35 years younger and needed some patients. The great explained the facts of life to me.
He said, you will have a wonderful life until about 45. At that time you will likely experience complications. Blindness, kidney disease, pain in your extremities should all be expected. I was told to keep my clinitest below 4+ and I was told of the greatness of the measurement of blood sugar using urine samples. After all we were in the modern age of medicine.
I was told to expect death or at least disability by around 50 and in doing so if I was alive I might wish for death as opposed to fighting. Then the great doctor left and his associate, the female who I had never met, walked in and introduced herself. She handled the dismissal. Job done I was sent to ponder my fate.
There is no talk of life span they are given instructions in carbohydrate counting, and no doubt they are told there is no better time to be a diabetic. I imagine they are told they are at the peak of medical discovery. I bet some doctors even use the word cure, whatever that means. Some people are not even put in the hospital though I suspect that is still uncommon. Parents, partners and patients are reassured about normal lives, told there is nothing they cannot do and given information about modern pumps, yes the ones we routinely use (not some space age pipe dream they want).
I imagine they still get an incredible orange the syringe some saline and the night to practice and push saline in the orange. At least I hope they do, I mean let’s face it tradition is tradition after all. Whereas I was told to stop eating sugar, todays diabetics are told about pita chips, crackers, and all the other high carb food items. Of course we are all given some instruction about lows, sand highs. But today’s diabetic is told about blood sugar testing, A1C, C-petide, and a host of diagnostic measures.
So do 2013 diabetics have it better? I doubt it. Yes they will live longer, do not have the longevity talk and they do not talk about limitations or speeding up life to be fulfilled. But just the same the type 1’s of today still get the “talk” about complications and ignoring the rules and hazards of lows and highs. Still given the choice, I would take today's introduction to the being a type 1 over the introduction I received. The plain and simple I hate the scale they gave me. Frankly it may not be better today, but thank goodness it is no worse.