November is slowly coming to a close and just a few interviews left. Today’s story is about Patti Walker. Read on to hear more about her and her diabetic career.
What type of diabetes do you have?
Patti: Type 1
How long have you had diabetes?
P: 38 years
How did you manage, growing up? Did you hide your diabetes?
P: Never hid it at all. But didn’t do a lot to manage it either. This was the 80s. Internet didn’t exist, and I never heard a thing about complications until about 10-15 years ago. I took shots occasionally… certainly not as prescribed, and I never once had a low until I was 26 (diagnosed at 14). Didn’t even own a bloodsugar meter the first 5-6 years after diagnosis
Was it tough on your sibling(s) if you had any, with you being the center of attention?
P: Never. My parents were divorced, and I was the only one who lived with my mother.
What was hardest for you and your family — emotionally? Or financially?
P: Neither. My mom had insurance. And we—as a family—simply don’t get emotional. My mother did NOTHING to help w/ my diabetes other than pay for my insulin.
What treatment do you use to treat your diabetes?
P: Pump and CGM… in the middle of switching to the 670G closed-loop system
How often do you have to test your glucose levels?
What kind of insulin do you take?
What insulins have you had throughout your diabetic career?
P: I can’t even remember the names of them. In 1981, I started taking pork/swine insulin—both short and long acting. The peak times on those were way different than those of current synthetic insulin.
How well do you think you manage your diabetes?
P: As perfectly as humanly possible I’m 38 years in and have zero complications—gotta be doing something right
Can you recognize the symptoms of a low/high blood sugar?
P: Not at all. I was 29 at one point and didn’t feel it
What symptoms do you get, and how often?
P: None. Ever
What do you eat for breakfast/lunch/dinner? When?
P: I eat a lot of nuts, cheese, fruits (mostly apples, melon, and berries), veggies, and meat.
Do you vary your insulin dose if you eat something that is not really good for you?
Do you eat snacks in between meals? Soda?
P: Yes. I eat more snacks than I do actual meals. Never drink soda at all. But I do drink beer and wine
Do you eat vegetables and drink lots of water?
P: yes and yes
Do you ever skip meals?
Do you find the diet restrictive?
P: Not at all
Do you get annoyed when people ask if you should be eating a certain food?
P: Would you believe nobody has EVER asked me that?!
Do you do anything else to manage diabetes better?
P: Stay VERY active!! I do CrossFit training at least 3 days/week
What is the hardest part of being diabetic? And the best part?
P: Nothing hard about it. Nothing “best” about it either
Does your diabetes cause you any other problems?
P: Not at all….but before I got my CGM, I wrecked 4 cars from going low while driving
What would you like a non-diabetic to know about having diabetes?
P: T1 has NOTHING AT ALL to do with lifestyle
What would you tell someone who has just been diagnosed with diabetes?
P: It is manageable!! Just accept it.
Who do you get support from? Who treats you?
P: I treat myself, and I get support from the online diabetic community (Diabuddies!) I’ve got a daughter at home who knows when I’m low and what to do when I’m low, but she’s 16 and pretty much avoids me . I’m dating a guy who is so freaked out over my diabetes—it’s honestly the reason we won’t ever get any closer. So really, nobody in my offline life supports me.
Huge thanks to Patti for letting me share her story. I’ve loved doing these so much and have loved learning more new things about Diabetes and people’s stories within the community. I have two more interviews coming up, so be on the lookout for those.