Think type 1 diabetes is just for kids? Think again.
Because it was thought to only strike children and teens, type 1 was known as juvenile diabetes for a long time. The truth is a growing number of adults are being diagnosed with it in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond.
All week long, we will present stories from adults who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, describing the emotions and frustrations that came with their experiences. Each person defines success in different ways, but they all celebrate the triumphs that have helped them reach their goal of living well with diabetes.
Kevin after his diagnosis
Name: Kevin Kane
Age: 49 (diagnosed at 49)
Location: Sun Prairie, Wis.
I was just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes Aug. 1, 2014, at age 49.
This all started in March 2014. At first I fooled myself into thinking I lost weight from eating better and drinking more water. But then I really wasn’t eating well and I kept losing weight. I was drinking a gallon of water a day but still constantly thirsty; my dry mouth was so bad I sometimes had a hard time speaking. I was getting up to urinate every 60 to 90 minutes at night. I had leg cramps at night and became horribly fatigued.
I’m not one to see a doctor, so it had to get bad before I would make an appointment. I visited my primary doctor and had blood and urine testing done. Later that afternoon, Dr. Segal called to say I should probably go to the emergency room at University of Wisconsin Hospital right away.
As it turned out, my blood glucose was 613mg/dL and my A1C was 15.6 percent. On top of that, I found out my cholesterol was 269mg/dL.
I assumed it was type 2 diabetes, because of my age. My father was diagnosed with it in his 60s, though it was thought to be connected to his long-term alcoholism. Then there was a great uncle with diabetes, but nobody knows what type, and I only learned about that after I was diagnosed. So not much family history.
But all the medical staff—Dr. Segal, the ER doctor, Laurie the diabetes specialist—thought it was more likely to be type 1 diabetes. Coincidentally, my wife and daughter were with our pediatrician that day and upon hearing the story, she immediately bet it was type 1.
In many ways being diagnosed with diabetes has been a blessing in disguise. I’m healthier than I have been in decades. The diagnosis scared me but I really tried to focus on what I could control—that’s my advice to anyone facing this.
I have always struggled with controlling my food choices and portions. Now, I am aware of proper portions and carbohydrate amounts (45-60g/meal), watching calories and eating more vegetables and proteins.
Immediately, my wife started researching recipes and helped me look for low-carb foods for meals, snacks and in restaurants. She was an incredible source of support! I am a Realtor, so my schedule changes daily. Knowing what foods to keep around the house, pack for lunch and sometimes order at restaurants is important.
Hearing that consistent exercise would be a big key in managing diabetes pushed me to start working out like I had “talked about” doing forever. My wife and I joined a gym together; we get up at 5 a.m., 4 or 5 days a week, to run and lift weights. I had been a runner in my youth but hadn’t laced up in 11 years.
On Nov. 2, just three months after my diagnosis, I did a 5-mile race with my 19-year-old daughter Sydney! A very “Proud Papa” moment!
I expect there will be many new challenges in my future. I have fantastic support and education from my medical team. I really try to do exactly what they tell me about carb intake, exercise, testing my blood glucose and taking my insulin as prescribed. I’m on Humalog and Lantus insulin shots but feeling great.
I just had my four-month follow-up labs. My A1C is down to 6.1 and my cholesterol is 121!