Look at what we have today: insulin pumps, CGM's we can read on our smart phones, bionic pancreases, support groups and blogs to name a few. Sure, it has taken years of blood, sweat and research to achieve all this. Odd as it may seem sometimes I ask what is it all for anyway? Is the mission for all the discoveries and technologies to improve the lives of those of us who live with diabetes? I, for one, marvel at the fact that science, technology and communication has catapulted us into a new way of life with diabetes, a diabetes culture.
Before this, say in the 1960’s, 70’s and even into the ‘80’s day-to-day life with diabetes could get a little harrowing, yet in many ways it was very simple. There wasn’t much to figure out. You took a shot of insulin in the morning and hoped you would eat in time for it not peak and cause a “reaction”. And did those shots ever hurt! Given the fact that you boiled a 23-guage stainless steel needle that always seemed dull despite the fact that you sharpened it on a whetstone, it was no wonder that the morning jab in the butt really hurt. In 1962, a bottle of NPH insulin cost $1.25 in the pharmacy where I bought it. I remember hearing rumors from the druggist that pretty soon insulin would be free because it is a life line drug. Time has certainly proven that to be a rumor __ indeed. And of course we all know about testing urine in a glass test tube combining drops of Benedict solution and urine and waiting for the color to come up. Blue was the best. You knew for sure your diabetes was in good control then. If the color was yellow or green it meant your sugar was high and you should do some exercise. Food was dictated by the ever so dull Exchange Diet and days usually ended with a glass of skimmed milk and 2 graham crackers. One other thing __ you kept your diabetes to yourself. It wasn’t something to speak about in polite society. Most people didn’t know anyone outside of family members who had, or talked about, diabetes It was not part of popular culture and as far as I knew a diabetes culture did not exist. You managed a life with diabetes as best you could.
This year, 2017, I looked at myself in the mirror and was surprised to see (wrinkles of course) what diabetes looks like today. I wear a diabetes tool belt with a smart pump, smart phone to read Dexcom numbers and am attached to these devices 24/7. Not being of the “wired” generation it takes me time to learn the new skills. Sometimes it is frustrating. Sometimes it seems like too much diabetes. But the progress we live with today gives us better roads to travel on with diabetes. It also lets us in on diabetes culture. This casts a wide net. Too many diabetes organizations to name, social media, endless blogs, support groups, diabetes paraphernalia such as socks, shoes and pump cases, conferences and websites …. All these and more are devoted to diabetes.
So, what does all this really mean? It means that we have choices and that is the best scenario one could as for. You can keep it simple or you can venture out into the wide world of diabetes culture …. which I guess I know your decision …. after all you are reading this.