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October 26, 2016
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A Diabetic Centenarian?

For me, the desire to live to 100 is all about quality of life. Frankly, living to any age is about quality of life.
I don't know that I considered my mortality much until I was diagnosed with diabetes. I was 30 when I was diagnosed. Which means that at the traditional retirement age, I will have lived with diabetes for 35 years. That's a pretty long time. Live 20 years past retirement, and diabetes will have been part of my life for more than half a century.
One of the toughest parts of living with diabetes for me are the intangibles--I feel fine now, but that doesn't mean that my internal organs or my eyes aren't feeling the strain of high blood sugars and extended periods of time living with a chronic disease.
So, since being diagnosed, I have thought considerably about my life and my death. How long do I want to live is often a question I ask myself. Retirement--age 65--is awful young. What age is "old enough" to have lived a full life? At what point in my life will diabetes really be in control? How long can I control my blood sugar so that potential complications stay away?
A story on CNN today discusses "surprising new research" that even people who develop heart disease or diabetes late in life can live to 100. Conventional wisdom until now said that folks with chronic illnesses didn't live so long.
This is great news. Who doesn't want to live a long life? Until I read this story, I sort of thought I was doomed to die at what would be considered a young age simply because I had diabetes. I think I thought that no matter how good my control is, the simple fact of having diabetes pre-disposes me to a shorter life than the average Jane. This gives me hope (and a little inspiration to get out and restart my walking routine!).
(This may be the cynic in me, but I have to mention that I know longevity is key and that dying young is not what anyone wants, but, really, is 100 where we want to be? I mean, even one of the people who was interviewed for this story was described as being "strikingly lucid" at age 104.)

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