In a microcosm of time, fifty-two years is a solid number to have lived with T1 diabetes. Lately it has me thinking of my follow diabetes veterans. Of course there are hundreds of 50-year Joslin medalists who meet every two years in Boston to celebrate their good health and longevity with diabetes. There are also quite a number of us around and about who have kept wavy open lines of communication and support touching base over the years through sports and exercise.
Aging well with diabetes is not sexy headline news. Rather it is about adaptability. It is training oneself with energy, discipline and chutzpah to go forward with technology and changes in diabetes care while practicing the stuff we already know that works. We motivate ourselves and absorb motivation from those who know more than we do. We become role models for younger generations of PWD’s who can look to us for inspiration that says do your best, don’t settle for the ordinary, never stop learning what you can do to make your life with diabetes ready for future discoveries and good news.
One of the women in my book The Sisterhood of Diabetes – Facing Challenges & Living Dreams, is Arlene Scholar. I write about her as the “Magical Pied Piper Who Wears a Backpack.” Arlene has lived with T1 diabetes since 1964 and been on an insulin pump since 1980. She once told me “A positive attitude will help you maintain your commitment to a healthier life. Weave your own web of support systems, venture into the world of exertion and give yourself credit for trying.” Arlene discovered her love of the outdoors as a young college student in the 1960’s when she hiked in the Austrian Alps. Ever since then it’s been an attitude of “I’d rather pull weeds than be indoors”. Over the years she has led 300 plus hikes in the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains in New York State as well as having summited hundreds of peaks in those mountains in addition to the White Mountains in New Hampshire and the mighty Rockies in Colorado. Along the way she developed skills in backpacking, snowshoeing, ice skating and camping. Her love of the outdoors has also taught her to develop skills in caring for her diabetes. She is grateful for insulin pumps, glucose meters and continuous glucose monitors that help her, along with careful meal planning and calculated boluses, to manage diabetes with precise care and reward her with good health.
“Being as active as I am at age seventy plus with fifty years of T1 diabetes I hope I can project a YES I CAN attitude that inspires others to live their lives with a sense of adventure and making dreams come true." And there she is our magical pied piper who wears a backpack, Arlene Scholar.
And so time goes by with a crowd of veteran PWD’s at the forefront wearing CGMs, insulin pumps, carrying quick carb snacks, walking with an intrepid attitude and seeking many adventures yet to find.