Name: Laura Smith
Hometown: Garner, North Carolina
Diabetes Type: 1
Current Life's Work: Wife, Grandmother
My name is Laura Smith. I am 57 years young and have been an insulin dependent diabetic for 51 years this year . I will be 58 in July.
When I was diagnosed in 1962, diabetes was still a disease that little was known about and my parents were told I would never live to be 30 and that they and the doctors would learn together.
We used glass syringes and pork insulin, and the only way to test sugars was by urine and using a test tube and acetone tablets. Very messy indeed and not accurate. There was no such thing as regular insulin sliding scales. You took one shot a day and watched your diet very carefully.
All the years I lived at home, I followed a very strict diet: breakfast at 7am, lunch at 11:30 or 12 noon, and dinner at 5pm. I had wonderful parents who put my health before anything and made sure that I had the best of everything. Taking care of me was their whole world.
When I got into my teen years, I started to rebel against diabetes and started eating things I should not have had and even drinking as I got older. I would just take some regular insulin to cover what I ate and hoped for the best. It got to the point where I would "fake" my urine tests, adding water to my urine to cover any ketones.
I got married at 18 years of age and had a baby soon afterwards. Although my son was a large baby delivered by C-section 2 weeks early, he had no complications, thankfully, and was a perfect baby. Since I was married, I could eat and do as I wanted because I no longer had my parents to monitor my progress and I did not really care what happened, never thinking complications would happen to me. I had a second child at the age of 20, but he was born with several major birth defects that I found out years later were in fact due to my poor diabetes control.
All through my 20's and early 30's I did what I pleased, and since diabetes care was still in its infancy, there was no ideal way to monitor my sugars. Even when I got my first blood sugar machine, I rarely checked my sugars. I would just fill out the logs with fake numbers.
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Like many of us with non-insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes, my biggest diabetes expense is test strips. In theory, test strips are covered by my insurance — but not nearly enough of them, and not for a device small enough to fit in my pocket. This means that if I want to have the option of testing when I want, where I want — or in more doctor- and road-safety-compliant terms, when and where I need to test (there has to be some proportion of...