I was diagnosed with “diabetes” 2.5 years ago in a hospital emergency department at the age of 50. I assumed, much like the healthcare practitioners, that due to my age I had the Type 2 variety. I was sent home with oral medication and instructed to contact my physician in the next week for follow-up treatment. Thankfully, my physician is familiar with my family’s health history and treats my two daughters, one of whom has Type 1 Diabetes.
I don’t fit the stereotypical Type 2 patient and after additional clinic blood tests, with additional lab confirmation from my employer – a diabetes research institute in Seattle (oh the irony!) confirmed that I am as “Type 1 as you can get”. This is somewhat uncommon, though not rare, and is usually referred to as LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults). Since my diagnosis, I’ve been surprised by the lack of resources and support for older adults with T1D (oh my gosh, I’m referring to myself as an older adult)! Most literature relates to Type 2 or children and teens with Type 1.
Prior to my diagnosis, I would have joked that I knew everything there was to know about Type 1 after raising a daughter that was diagnosed at age 11 months, but treating myself is a much different scenario. That is where having mutual understanding, support and encouragement is so critical to those that are pancreatically challenged. My daughter has stepped up and taken me under her wing, encouraged me, helped me figure out insulin-to-carb ratios, shared tips and tricks, instructed me on the ins and outs of setting up my insulin pump, and even auto-inserted my continuous glucose meter for me every 5 days for one year when I would repeatedly psych myself out. I know I have a person in my corner willing to help at any hour of the day or night, or send me a ridiculous-yet-funny diabetes meme when I’m in a funk. She knows my favorite flavor of glucose tabs and sends texts with new gadget information or links to purchase neon flower sticky covers for my pump or cgm. Nothing says love like that!
Interdependence is the glue that holds us together when things get tough, or when things go right – like an improved A1C. Without the support of someone in the know to help me navigate the Type 1 terrain, it would be lonely road and long journey. Everyone deserves a dia-buddy and I’m thankful daily that she is mine!