Saturday, February 28, 2015

T1 For 69 Years, Ch. 6

T1 Diabetes for 69 Years
CHAPTER 6.
I have read about young diabetics who cheat and rebel. I was diagnosed
at the tender age of 6. I loved and respected my parents, and I did
not question their demands involving my diabetes care. I was NEVER to
eat sugar or candy or other items containing sugar unless I was having
very low blood sugar. I followed that rule to the letter. Mother was
so good to make me wonderful desserts sweetened with saccharin. I
loved her desserts so much that I was not tempted to eat their
desserts. Some of my favorites were banana cream pie, cherry vanilla
custard pie, baked custard pie, chocolate pie, rhubarb pie, peach pie,
and raisin pie. The pies had homemade crusts that were very thick and
they were divided into five pieces for my dinners and suppers. Can you
tell I liked pies??? There was also applesauce cake for my birthday,
and again for Christmas. The cake contained lots of nuts, raisins and
and applesauce, to make it stay moist. None of these desserts
contained any sugar so they were OK for me, right? We thought they
were. Can you imagine how many carbs were in these desserts? A typical
breakfast had two kinds of meat, perhaps sausage cakes and thick ham
slices which I ate with my eggs. There were homemade biscuits with
lots of butter, and I would dunk them in my saccharin sweetened
homemade apple butter. That and a big glass of milk from our own cows
completed my meal. Is it any wonder that I had terribly high blood
sugar....er....urine sugar? The breakfast was so large because both of
my parents were raised on a farm and they and their families worked
hard and needed that food for energy as they set out to do their
farming chores. I do not think my parents knew any other way to live.
We had three large meals every day and I am certain I must have eaten
more than 500 carbs per day. When the peaches were ripe in our orchard
I would climb up on the lower branches and reach up for a mellow,
juicy peach. They were as big as a grown man's fist. I would eat two
and my tummy would hurt. I was covered with juice so I would go home
to wash up. Daddy always sprayed our fruit and every time I ate our
fruit I was eating dangerous chemicals. We did not know any better. It
never hurt any of us so far as I know. We had plums, grapes ,
strawberries, raspberries, apples and pears. I ate too much fruit but
I loved it. I was in charge of the melon patch. I planted cantelopes
and watermelons each year. They required sandy soil and lots of water.
The were left on the vine until they were fully ripe. They taste so
much better that way than when they are picked green and ripened
afterwards. The same is true with all fruit and tomatoes. My mouth is
watering terribly as I write this chapter today.
Daddy milked the cows at daybreak and cleaned their stalls. Then he
ate breakfast and went back out and hoed or plowed the garden, watered
and pruned trees and shrubs, and did so many other things. He would
then go home for dinner and sleep on the floor for an hour afterwards.
He then reported to the post office where he worked from 2pm until
11pm with a one hour break for supper. The lunch pail Mother packed
for him was unbelievable. He ate some of what we had at home for our
supper. Daddy would get home late and try to be in bed by midnight. I
have never known a man to work so hard. On some days he made time to
pick up a load of shrubbery at my uncles nursery and plant them at
people's houses. We told people that Daddy had three jobs. The farm,
the post office, and the nursery. Daddy had a lot of muscle and was
never much overweight. None of us were ever much overweight, even
though we ate food like there was no tomorrow. I was always skinny
until many years later when I started using modern day insulins. We
worked hard and we all loved each other so much. Good food, hard work
and lots of love. That is my recipe for a successful family and
growing up well.
My parents never smoked cigarettes or drank alcoholic beverages. They
were my guiding light and I intended to follow in their footsteps.
When I was 10 a young lad two years older than me came to our house.
He was in my homeroom when I was in fifth grade. He had failed two
times and had been held back. He had never ridden a horse and he
wanted to ride our old work horse. So Bobby, Larry and I climbed
aboard and we rode through the pasture. Bobby offered us cigarettes.
Larry and I had never smoked, but we did not want to be called
chicken, so we smoked a couple. After Bobby went home we decided we
would continue smoking after school each day. Larry took a pack of
Lucky Strikes out of his father's pickup truck and we headed to his
back property where no one would see us. We smoked our way through
several packs in a few weeks time. Larry's Father eventually caught
on. He was missing his packs of cigarettes and his Mother had smelled
the tobacco odor on Larry's clothes. One night after dark Larry and
his parents came to visit. That was most unusual and I knew something
was up. Larry would not look at me, and he hung his head. The jig was
up. My parents were shocked to hear what I had done but they did no
discipline me at all. It was not necessary. I was so ashamed that I
had disappointed my parents, whom I loved so much. I think they knew I
would never do anything like that again, and I didn't. My urine sugar
had been 4+ every morning all that time I had been smoking. Now we all
knew why. I had not been eating well either during that time. Things
improved a lot in the weeks to come. Except for abandoning my sister
in the corn field, smoking was the only bad thing I ever did as a
child. My parents were good examples to follow, and my sister and I
were good followers.
After I was grown I found that my Mother and Dr. Davis had been
working together for my "benefit". Mother would phone him and tell him
things that she wanted him to tell me before she drove me in for my
appointments. "Now Alvin, you can't drink or smoke. that will make
your diabetes much worse." That was after my cigarette episode. "Now
Alvin, you can't participate in gym at school, that will make your
sugar go too low and you may have very low blood sugar." I do not know
exactly how Dr Davis expressed himself on these occasions but I can
still hear his voice and his advice. I always trusted him without
question. I was very disappointed in my Mother and the doctor for
their plotting and scheming. He also questioned my going to college,
but he did not sound so forceful as he had the other times. Mother
admitted that she had called Dr Davis about college. I was onto their
wicked ways! HA!! Never again! I never argued with Mother about this.
I just told her I was disappointed in her and she apologized. Daddy
did not know anything about this. Maybe he never did. I never told
him.

T1 For 69 Years, Ch. 5

T1 Diabetes for 69 Years
Chapter 5
We did not know any other diabetics for many years while I was a
child. It seems now that might have been a disease that diabetics
would hide and be ashamed to reveal. I was a "closet diabetic". I
never told classmates prior to going to college. Only my closest
friends knew in college. My teachers knew nothing about diabetes. None
of my relatives had type 1 diabetes, so far as we know. There was one
of my father's second cousins who was reputed to have some of the
symptoms of type 1. She lost weight rapidly and died when she had
stopped eating. There was never a diagnosis of her condition. Her
parents may not have taken her to a doctor. I had relatives who
believed in home cures and medicines, and did not go to doctors. Many
mountain folks were that way back then. My Grandmother would gather
some tree roots, berries and bark and things and boil them in water
and give homemade medicine to her 5 kids. Mother had a sister and
three brothers. The medicine seemed to work very well.
My relatives did not talk to me about my diabetes. They would talk to
my parents in private. I will never forget one visit to my
grandparents house one summer, about a year after my diagnosis. I was
playing with my cousins, and the door to the living room was closed.
The talking in that room grew much quieter. I was suspicious and I
pressed my ear to the door and listened. My grandparents, uncles and
aunts were asking about me. We had not all been together since I was
diagnosed. It was a reunion of Mother's family. They asked Mother if I
was going to die. Mother had a hard time answering that question. She
told them she did not know, and that the doctor did not seem to know
much about how she should take care of me. She explained how she never
gave me sugar, candy, cookies, etc that contained sugar. I did not
want them to know I was eavesdropping so I left the door and went back
to my cousins. I was very frightened about what I had heard. I thought
I might die soon! I was very quiet on the way home and I never told my
parents I had heard that conversation. I wish I had never listened ,
the thought of dying caused me a lot of depression in the months to
come. I should have talked to my parents about it but I never did.
That visit will always linger in my mind, like it was yesterday.
We went to visit one of Mother's uncles not long after the family
reunion. It was early evening and my aunt wanted to serve
refreshments, so she took me by the hand and led me to a room down the
hall. It was kind of dark in there but I could see well enough to eat
part of the big apple she handed me. I wasn't really hungry. I could
hear the rattling of dishes where the rest of them were having cake
and lemonade. I didn't care that they were eating their cake, I was
hurt because my aunt did not want me to be with them. I never liked
her after that visit. Of course I was permitted to join them after
they were finished, but I just wanted to go home. I never got much of
an explanation for what had happened. I suppose my aunt thought it
would be cruel to have me see them eating cake.
When I was diagnosed we knew nothing of artificial sweeteners. I'm not
sure there were any. A few years later a drug store was selling
saccharin in liquid form. It was about that time that unsweetened Kool
Aid was introduced. There were no artificially sweetened drinks until
we had the combination of saccharin and Kool Aid. The Kool Aid was in
little bottles in concentrated liquid form. I thought I was in heaven!
I loved Kool Aid. Mother used the saccharin and started making me
pies, cookies and other desserts, I always had one of her delicious
desserts at dinner and supper. I had sweetener for cereal at
breakfast. i had lemonade in the summers. Life was definitely looking
up!! There were so many carbs in the pies, cookies, and cereal but we
thought they were OK since they did not contain sugar. I ate so many
potatoes, corn, homemade bread and rolls, chicken and dumplings (my
favorite dish of all time) and the overload of carbs caused me much
high urine sugar. Oh how I wish we had known about carbs back then.
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I finished my freshman year at Roanoke College with very good grades,
except for chemistry. I went to campus for the first day of classes in
my sophomore year. I was shocked to learn that the pre-engineering
department had been closed down. I could not afford to go to Va.Tech
to continue at that time. It was only about an 80 minute drive to Tech
from my home but we decided it would be too much for me. I needed my
income from the supermarket to pay my tuition. I had to continue at
Roanoke College. I was tempted to quit college, my dream of becoming
an architect was shattered. Then Dr. Walpole, head of the math
department, entered the picture. He knew my situation. He told me I
was a good math student, and I should consider becoming a math major.
I was very hesitant, but I thought that was better than quitting
college.
I worked 20 hours per week at the store and 30-40 hours per week
during the summer and vacations, whenever classes were not being held.
The manager at the store was very cooperative. He had wanted to go to
college, but his parents were very poor, and they lived too far from a
town or city for him to get a job. With all those hours I was able to
pay my way through four years of undergraduate school. The store
manager even gave me days off when I needed more time to prepare for
the harder tests and final exams.
I had to take physics in my sophomore year. That was the hardest
subject for me in undergraduate school. It was the same situation as
with the chemistry. I did have high school physics, but it was not
well taught. College physics seemed almost impossible. Two more C's,
but again I made several A's and a couple of B's for the rest of my
grades that year.
I also had my first date that year. Her name was Linda. She was a
senior in high school, and a good friend of my sister. I felt weak
when I approached her front door. I wanted to turn around and go home.
Too late, I saw two faces at the window looking out, with the curtain
pulled back. She did not seem shy like me. Sweet, pretty and a great
smile. I had a hard time talking to her. We went to a movie. That was
a relief since I did not have to talk to her or even look at her.
WHEW!! I did not hold her hand. I felt like a miserable failure. I
asked her for a second date. I was shocked when she said yes!!! I
probably just sat there in the car with my mouth hanging open, in
disbelief.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

T1 for 69 Years, Ch. 4

T1 Diabetes for 69 Years
CHAPTER 4.
My parents and most of my relatives were very religious people. All of my grandparents and several of my aunts and uncles belonged to the Primitive Baptist churches in the southern Virginia area. That may be a Christian denomination with which you are unfamiliar. It is characterized by no music in the church, no Sunday school, no choir, just very plain and simple. The preachers are not called ministers, and they do not go to college to become preachers. The preachers feel the call from God and they know that that is their calling. People who join have some kind of sign such as a dream that makes it clear to them that God wants them to join the church. At the conclusion of a Sunday meeting a prospective member will walk down the aisle to the front of the church, and announce that he/she wants to join. That person is usually very emotional and may be crying and finding it difficult to speak. A discussion usually follows and the people may hear what made this person know that joining was the proper thing to do that day. There have been instances that were not convincing and the person was denied membership. If the member is accepted then there is great rejoicing and lots of crying and hugging. Daddy had this experience several years before he died. I was living far away and did not know he was going to join. He didn't either until the preacher was about done for the day. Then Daddy became very weak and stumbled down the aisle shaking and crying as he explained why he knew he was supposed to join that day. He was accepted and he was changed in many ways after that day. Daddy was always a wonderful and very kind man. He would give a person in need "the shirt off his back". He was baptized in a creek far from any city or town and the banks of the stream were lined with well wishers. It is a very joyous occasion when a Primitive Baptist member is baptized. Much crying and hugging took place there.
Several years later Daddy had pains in his chest. The doctor told him he had a weak heart valve, and that it should be replaced with a pig's heart valve. Daddy felt that God would take care of him and surgery was unnecessary. Mother begged him to get the surgery. He finally gave in, the surgery was scheduled, and it was to take place in approximately three weeks. It was springtime and their was a drought in the Roanoke area.
Daddy had made the two acres surrounding the house very beautiful by planting many wonderful shrubs that had grown very large. Daddy was gifted at landscaping and the two acre yard was a virtual show place. Mother's large flower gardens added to the beauty of the place. People would stop and want to take pictures of the landscape. The magnolia trees had become quite large, and were very beautiful. On one occasion a wedding party stopped, and they got my parent's permission to have their pictures taken on the grounds.
The drought was bad that year and some of the beautiful shrubbery was turning brown. Daddy had a lot of muscle, and he would carry a five gallon bucket of water in each hand and go up the hill from the back yard water source to the front yard to water his boxwoods. The shrubs were so important to him, that he wanted to continue despite his heart problem. I was visiting at that time and, begged him to stop. I have never had much muscle, and he would not let me help. He felt that God would protect him. If he died then God wanted it that way. He seemed to be OK when we left and went to my home. On Mother's Day that year he was sleeping while sitting in a comfortable chair in the den. Mother was watching TV. She looked over at Daddy, and he suddenly made a little gasping noise, and stopped breathing. He died in his sleep from a ruptured heart valve. Mother grieved long and hard. There were many people including Primitive Baptist church members at his funeral. There were relatives there whom I had not seen in so many years.
Mother had hoped for so long that God would give her a sign that she should join the church, but it never happened. One of her brothers became a Primitive Baptist preacher, and he baptized many new members. He preached at many churches in the south central Virginia area. Mother died in May of 2005, many years after Daddy died. More about her in another chapter.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

T1 for 69 Years, Ch. 3

T1 Diabetes for 69 Years
CHAPTER 3
Before I was diabetic Daddy drove a milk truck and delivered milk to people's homes. Mother was always a stay at home Mom and there was barely enough income to pay the rent on the house and put food on the table. A few years later Daddy applied for a job at the Roanoke Post Office and was accepted. The salary was substantially larger and that was when we made a down payment on the 10 acres that became our farm.
The house across the street from ours was huge and was made from big, beautiful stones like the ones in the buildings on the Va. Tech campus nearby. The people living in that mansion probably hated seeing us building a little four room shanty directly across the street from them. We were very surprised when they came over to see us and welcomed us with open arms. Their son Larry became my very best friend and we spent much time together playing cowboys and riding our stick horses, climbing trees and building a make-shift tree house, and hunting black birds that would land in our corn field with our BB rifles. We were good buddies until we went to high school and then we drifted apart. They bought a TV set when they were first available at the stores. No one else we knew had one. I was so thrilled to get to sit in his beautiful living room and watch the black and white TV. What a thrill!
My sister was three years younger than me. We were always close and loved each other very much. We still do. My friend Larry, my sister and I were playing Tarzan one day on our back property, no houses in site. There were four acres of tall corn there. I was Tarzan, my sister was Jane and Larry was Cheeta, the chimp. The corn field was our jungle. Larry and I were 7 and my sister was 4. Cheeta and I went forth to hunt wild animals for food and left Jane in the middle of the jungle. Cheeta and I stayed away too long and we heard Jane crying. We were in no hurry to rescue Jane so we took our time. When we got back to her she was bawling. We led her out of the jungle and took her home. On our way we picked dew berries and ate them and I picked wild flowers for Jane...er...my sister and by the time we got home she was happy and laughing. Mother never knew about the corn field incident. My sister and I still kid each other about that day. We tease each other and we have such a great sense of humor. My Mother was nuts, so silly. We got our sense of humor from her. I don't remember ever doing any other cruel thing to my sister. We are great friends.
My parents saved money and when I was in the ninth grade they built a big, beautiful brick home. The four room shanty was torn down. The house was just as big as Larry's house across the street. We were so proud of it! We had a TV too!
My senior year high school Math teacher insisted that I go to college. My parents told me I could not do that. They thought I would not be successful because of my diabetes. None of my relatives had ever gone to college. Many of them had good jobs and good salaries and lived in fine homes. My parents did not understand my being so obsessed with going to college. What they did not understand was that I was deeply hurt by their telling me I would not make it through college because of my diabetes. I had to show them and the world I could do that and do it well! I had a good mind and I wanted to use it in a meaningful way. They begged me to apply for a job at the post office and become a post office clerk. So I had to choose between standing at a counter and selling stamps and weighing packages or going to college. The only coed college available was Roanoke College, just 20 minutes away. If there had not been a college nearby I would never have gone to college. My parents were disappointed in me and Mother cried. They were so dead set against my doing this that they refused to pay for any part of my tuition or my college expenses. They were kind though and gave me free room and board and Daddy let me drive his older Chevy instead of trading it in when he bought a new car. He kept the car in good shape and paid for the gas. I had no money of my own and so I had to get a job. I started working at a supermarket the very month I graduated from high school. I worked about 30 hours per week and started off at 75 cents per hour. Every few months I would get a raise of 5 or 10 cents per hour. I saved enough to pay for half of my tuition for the fall semester. I was supposed to pay the other half later during that semester.
Roanoke College is affiliated with the Luthern church and has always had a very good reputation. I was frightened at orientation because the incoming freshmen I met had followed the academic curriculum in high school. They had chemistry or biology and physics in high school. I did not because I followed the general curriculum and did not intend to go to college until that math teacher in my senior year of high school convinced me to do so. I knew I was unprepared for college. I was signed up for chemistry for my freshman year. I was the only student in the class who had not had chemistry in high school. There was no lower level chem course to prepare me like today's colleges offer. I was very discouraged. I could not give up and tell my parents I would not go to college. That was not my nature. I would go to college and do my best. If I failed then I would at least know I did my best.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

T1 for 69 Years, Ch. 2

Type 1 Diabetes for 69 Years
CHAPTER 2
Prior to the discovery of insulin there were several treatments for diabetes. Those treatments included bleeding, opium, starvation, exercise and diets. A diet low in carbs and high in fat and protein was sometimes used. Without the availability of insulin these treatments extended the lives of diabetics by approximately one year.
Insulin was discovered in 1921 and became available to the general public in 1923. The first insulin was taken from pigs and cows by a Canadian team. Thank God for Dr. Banting and his team!!! The insulin was impure and large doses were necessary and they frequently caused an abscess at the injection site. At first the beef/pork insulin was short acting and multiple doses were needed each day. In the 1930's, the first long acting insulin, Protamine Zinc, was introduced. In the 1940's NPH insulin became available and it is still widely used today. In that same decade the first standardized insulin syringe was introduced. It was made of glass. The needles used with that syringe had to be sterilized by boiling. The needles had to also be sharpened frequently. My family lived in an area where all the residents had their own wells. Our water was "hard water" and contained material that caused a deposit to form on my needles when they were boiled. Each morning before the syringe and needle were boiled my Father took a whet stone and rubbed the needle against it to remove the deposit. If there was some of the deposit still left on the needle then it became very difficult to push the needle into my flesh. I got used to that after awhile. I found injections on my arms more painful and we usually used my upper legs. I was supposed to inject the insulin into muscle so my abdomen was never used in my childhood. I started giving myself my own injections when I was 12.
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Meanwhile, back at the ranch......er.....the farm, things were shaping up very nicely. My Father built a small barn all by himself and there were stalls for our cows and our horse. The doors were left open so the livestock could use the shelter during bad weather and at night. Two calves were born each year and after they were fattened we would take them to the stockyard and sell them. The extra cash was much needed. My Father hitched the horse to a plow and plowed the 2.5 acre garden space every spring. It was very hard work for one horse and so Daddy tried renting a second horse. The rental was more than we could afford. A man offered him a mule, cheap. We soon found out why it was a low cost deal. The horse and mule were both hitched to the plow. The mule had no intention to pull that plow. The horse would move and the mule just stood there. My Father had worked on farms all his life and he approached the mule and spoke in soft tones. He fed the mule some corn and took a special comb used to groom livestock and combed the mule on his sides and back. It must have felt great. The mule was very cooperative and the plowing was done in no time. HEEEE HAWWWW! There was one time years later that we did rent a horse and I approached the horse and tried to pet him. The horse reached down and grabbed a chunk of my abdomen and I made a motion and screamed and the horse let go and ran away. That horse could have pulled a big part of my abdomen off my body. I was lucky to have only a few heavy teeth marks, not much bleeding. I would rather have injections any day!! Another time Daddy had the horse hitched for some very light plowing. The horse keeled over in the middle of the garden and died. Daddy dug a very large pit beside the horse and rolled the horse into the pit. We never had a horse after that. Later on that year Daddy bought a used tractor. We had a mowing machine and a hay rake that we hooked to the tractor and I drove the tractor and Daddy controlled the machines while riding them behind me. We mowed the fields and made hay for the livestock. We raked the hay and stacked it ready for feeding the cows during the winter.
***************************************
I was not a very good student during my first few years of elementary school. I made a lot of C's but I never failed a grade. I studied hard and my Mother was a great help. She was a good tutor. She was the valedictorian when she graduated from her high school. Impressed? Well, I guess I should tell you that there were only four students in the senior class that year. She attended a very small school house in the area where she was raised. When she started school it was a one room schoolhouse and one teacher taught grades 1-12.
I had hypos during the night about once per week and then ran high blood sugar during the day. All those carbs caused those highs. Mother was afraid I would have a hypo while at school. She approached the teacher at the beginning of each year and explained my condition and why I should not exercise like the other kids. She convinced Dr. Davis to write an excuse before school started each fall. I never participated in play period or gymnastics of any kind . I sat and watched the other kids. Mother would not have it any other way. My classmates knew I was different and they ignored me but never made fun of me. I tried to make friends but I was never very successful. I became very withdrawn and terribly shy. I hated my diabetes because I knew it was responsible for my misery in school. I never blamed my Mother because I also feared having a hypo in school. Mother always brought me out of my hypos at night by feeding me water containing a lot of sugar. I knew there would not be anyone to do that for me at school so I sat and watched the kids play and felt comfort in knowing I would not have a hypo. I would have been so embarassed if I had had a hypo at school.
By the time I reached fourth grade I started making better grades. In the sixth and seventh grades I made several A 's and B's, not many C's. I was always the best in my class at spelling. I took great pride in my ability to spell complicated words. I do make typos though. You may spot a few. When I reached high school my Mother still wanted me be excused from gym classes. I was rather good at basketball, at home. Daddy nailed a basketball hoop to the side of the corn crib and I became very good at making baskets. I played and worked hard at home but always under Mother's watchful eyes. I still had that fear of having hypos in high school so I agreed to not participate in gym classes. I wish now that I had rebelled and taken gym. I was still withdrawn and shy in high school. I made a few friends though and my grades were very good. I graduated number 13 in high school in June, 1957. My math teacher in my senior year found that I was not intending to go to college. She begged me to go. I considered it but I knew my parents would not approve.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

T1 for 69 Years, Ch. 1

INTRODUCTION
The fact that I am alive and well today, after 69 years of diabetes, is due in large part to my Mother and my precious wife who gave me such loving care all those years. My Mother died in May of 2005. My wife and I will celebrate our 51'st anniversary in May of this year.
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CHAPTER 1
I was born Richard Alvin Vaughn in 1939 in Roanoke, Virginia. My parents were both raised in the mountainous regions far to the south of Roanoke. There were no paved roads when they were young and going to a doctor involved a day's journey by horse and wagon to Stuart, Va. My Father tried to save his younger brother's life by taking him on one of those trips in the cold winter. His brother was very young and they wrapped him in blankets and laid him in the wagon. He had whooping cough and was very ill. He died before they could reach Stuart. My Mother had an older sister die of diphtheria. There were no vaccines available in the early 1900's.
When my parents were married my Father was 27 and my Mother was 19. They moved from their mountain homes to Roanoke hoping to find a better life. My parents settled in a one room cottage on a plot of land owned by my Mother's uncle. The plot was covered with shrubs that my uncle had planted there. That was my uncle's business. My Father took care of the grounds and sold the shrubs when people came to buy them. That was my Father's only employment at that time. I was born in that one room cottage on Sept. 10, 1939. A midwife saw to my birth there. The three of us moved a year or so later to a rented house and my Father drove a milk truck and started delivering milk in glass containers to people's homes. My sister was born in June of 1942. In very early 1945, when I was 5, I had chicken pox and mumps, all within a few months time. After I had somewhat recovered I started losing weight and by mid-summer I was skin and bones. I had no appetite, I drank water all the time and I urinated very often. My parents took me to our family doctor. He had no diagnosis and prescribed a tonic to help me regain my appetite. This tonic probably contained sugar and was most likely much the same as the old "snake oil" remedies that were not uncommon back then. The tonic was ineffective, of course, and I was taken to a second doctor. Still no diagnosis and so I was taken to a third doctor. No diagnosis there either. Despite my condition my parents enrolled me in first grade at a nearby elementary school. There was a bathroom in one corner of the classroom. I spent much time there. Mrs Thompson, the teacher, became very annoyed with this despite the fact that my Mother had explained my symptoms to her.
My parents took me to a fourth doctor who had read about diabetes and had my blood checked for sugar. I have no idea what the blood sugar level was. I only remember one thing about that doctor visit. When the doctor told my parents of my "sugar diabetes" my Mother's face turned white and the expression of fear on her face frightened me. My Father stood behind us and I did not see his face. My Mother's expression will always be with me until the day I die. The doctor gave them a reference to a fifth doctor who was supposed to be the "expert" in the area for diabetics. He was a far cry from an endocrinologist. I was hospitalized and given beef/pork type insulin. After awhile I regained my appetite and I started gaining weight. Insulin from pigs and cows saved my life and I regained much of my health. I do not remember all of what happened back then but my parents told me all the details years later.
Dr. Davis, the "expert", told my parents that I should never eat sugar or anything with high sugar content. There was no other advice given. So there we were with containers of insulin taken from animals, a glass syringe and metal needles that were twisted onto the end of the syringe. The syringe and a needle were sterilized by boiling them on top of our stove every morning. I had one injection before breakfast each day. We also tested my urine for sugar prior to my injection. A blue liquid called Benedict's solution was poured into a large test tube, 8 drops of urine were added to the solution and then the tube was placed upright into a metal container and the water in the container was boiled for awhile. When the tube was removed the content might show any one of several possible colors. Blue meant 0% sugar; green, 1%; yellow, 2%; orange, 3%; and red, 4%. I may be wrong on some of those percentages, my memory is not too good on that now. The needle was very long. I don't remember the actual length but i think it may have been about three quarters of an inch. We were instructed to stick the needle directly into the muscle on top of my upper legs. The diameter of the needle was greater than the ones used now. The injections were very painful. I remember those very clearly.
While I was still in first grade my parents bought a ten acre property and my grandfather and three uncles came and built us a four room house. My grandfather was a professional carpenter and he was training his sons to follow in his footsteps. The house went up very fast. Brick siding, no basement-just a crawlspace underneath, no insulation in the walls. The only plumbing was one faucet in the kitchen. We had to walk about 100 feet from the back door to reach the outdoor toilet. That toilet was attached to the chicken house. Down the hill was a pig pen. Further along we had a pasture and there were two cows and a horse. We had a large orchard with many fruit trees and a 2.5 acre garden space. Yes folks, we had us a ten acre "farm". It was a lot of fun. I used to help stack hay, pick peas and beans. gather fruit from the orchard. Later on I slopped the pigs and milked the cows. A lot of good memories, but a hard life in so many ways. My Mother canned 100 quarts of beans, 50 half gallon jars of tomato juice, 50 quarts of peaches, 50 quarts of applesauce, and much more every year. There was much more canning, I cannot remember it all. We had grape vineyards and there were was canned grapes and grape juice. We made apple butter too. We had an old fashioned churn and we churned the milk and we had butter milk and our own butter. Eating was great! My Mother was an excellent cook!!! I ate carbs by the hundreds every day but I avoided "sugar" and never cheated. We followed the doctor's instructions but there was no advice about carbs. I had high urine sugar almost all the time. My blood sugar was tested at my doctor's office every six months. There were no other blood tests that I can recall until I was in my late teens.
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This is just the start of this saga. I will continue at a later time.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

How Do You Treat Hypos?

Where do you keep the treats you use when you have hypoglycemia? I have read so many times that T1 people have to get out of bed and go to the kitchen when they have hypos at night. In certain cases they have to go downstairs to to reach the kitchen. That would be dangerous for me since I frequently experience dizziness with hypos. I have also read that some T1's have hypos when away from home, and they have to stop at a store and buy something, maybe waiting in line to pay, or eating before paying. Why do any T1's not have something handy. at all times??
I do NOT understand this!! I have a bottle of glucose tablets by my bedside, and another on a table by my laptop. When I leave the house, I have a small ziplock bag of jellybeans in my pocket at all times. My wife has some glucose tabs in her purse. I NEVER have to wander through my house or buy something at a store to have something to treat my hypos. I have ready access to something 24/7.
Why do any T1's take such chances?