Maintaining Good Control

I’ve had Type 1 diabetes for over 37 years, and through a combination of good control and good luck I’ve been able to deal with the disease well and am much healthier than most non-diabetics.  I’ve been out sick from work during the last 30 years an aggregate of only three days, and at 64 years old I don’t even need reading glasses.

I’m not a doctor and, of course, don’t give any medical advice, but I thought it would be helpful for people who look at this posting to see what I’ve set forth below as some key matters to consider in an effort to maintain good control:

1. I believe the most critical element is testing your blood sugar frequently.  I keep meters both at home and in my office, and test my blood sugar approximately ten times each day.  It’s impossible to keep your blood sugar level in a constant range at all times, with or without a pump (I don’t have a pump).  However, you should be able to keep your blood sugar in a good range most of the time with frequent testing.  My target range is between 80 and 100.  I know through trial and error how many grams of carbohydrate I need to get up to that range when my blood sugar level is below that range, and how many of units of Humalog insulin I need to take if it is above that range.  Each of you, with the assistance of your doctor, should get to know this if you don’t already know it.  By the way, one mistake many diabetics make is they panic if their blood sugar is low, and generally consume many more carbohydrates than they need in order to get it into the acceptable range.  I’ve seen a number of diabetics who, when their blood sugar is 50 for example, consume an amount of carbohydrates which will leave them with a 200 to 300 reading a half hour later.

2.  It’s even more important for diabetics than non-diabetics to exercise, not be overweight, or smoke or drink too much.  The consequences of these are bad for non-diabetics, and are even worse for diabetics.

3. Many diabetics are misled if they see a product, such as ice cream or cookies, which have on their label the fact they do not contain sugar.  They think that such products have no carbohydrates or much less carbohydrates than the normal products, and often consume a lot of the product in the mistaken belief that this will not raise their blood sugar level significantly.  Many of these products use as a sweetening agent sorbitol or other ingredients which often have as many, or even more, carbohydrates per serving than a product using sugar.  For example, many normal ice creams with sugar have approximately 15 grams of carbohydrates for each one-half cup serving, whereas many “no sugar” ice creams have 18-20 grams per serving.  It’s very important to look at the portion of all labels which shows the number of carbohydrates per serving.

My experience, and that of many other Type 1 diabetics, is that you can live a healthy life for a very long time after the onsite of diabetes.  However, you must, with input from your doctor, start and keep doing the things necessary in order to maintain good control.

well said!

Thanks for your post Michael - it at least gave hope and a positive outlook to 1 mom of a T1 boy. Congrats on your success.

I'm so glad you've had so much success and shared your strategies, which seem very sound. I would just caution though that research is showing a genetic component to complications (as well as being related to a1c levels). I just wouldn't want any of us to place blame on someone for getting complications that they may be more prone to. Also, I think many of us T1's have other auto-immune-related situations not related to our control. But, I think you have a great philosophy that we can lead normal and healthy lives!

Sarah – The purpose of my post was not to assign any blame, but simply to list some things which a Type 1 diabetic can do to help maintain good control and prevent long-term complications.  As you pointed out, even diabetics who maintain good control sometimes can encounter health problems, whether due to genetic issues or otherwise.  However, good control generally reduces the risk of complications.  In any case, thanks for your thoughts.  Good luck and good health!