Macintosh was born. Pluto was a planet, without question. The Olympics hadn’t yet broken up, as the Summer and Winter Games were held in the same year.
That was the world when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. A lot has changed since 1984, especially in the context of all the incredible advances we’ve seen in diabetes care and management.
Diagnosed as a young kid, I remember using urine testing strips to check my glucose levels and having to match up the colors. My first blood meter was the size of a brick, took roughly two minutes to register a reading, and you had to wipe the blood away.
Of course, this was all just a few years after the chemistry sets and what many consider to be the ending days of the “Dark Ages of Diabetes.”
We’ve come along way.
Now, almost 33 years since my T1D diagnosis, I’ve been through countless glucose monitors (all of which seem to be smaller and higher-tech than the last) and an array of insulin pumps. My continuous glucose monitor and “CGM in the Cloud” setup allows me to keep constant track of my blood sugars and share them with my wife.
All of that is a safety net that I didn’t know I’d ever need, but I am so grateful it exists today.
The diabetes tech has been one of the biggest changes I’ve seen through the years, but aside from that, the medical community has gotten better at stepping beyond their medical textbooks and determining what each person with diabetes really needs from them. Some do this better than others, of course, but it’s a positive trend in the profession. Of course, the establishment of the A1c in measuring glucose trends and managing diabetes has been a game-changer during these three decades, but so has how my doctors have embraced more of the real-life aspects of diabetes living.
For me, I really like being able to find peer support anytime, anywhere. My doctors and educators are only able to be a part of my team a small percentage of the time, and so the rest of my diabetes-management routine falls to me. I like being able to plug into Twitter or Facebook at any time and find someone who “gets it” when it comes to living with diabetes.
Our healthcare professionals are gradually moving in that direction—they’re starting to recognize the importance of the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) and this type of peer support. They are also recognizing psychosocial needs more often, and that’s a step forward—something that is just as important as all the new tech and gadgets we have to manage diabetes.
Right now, my biggest fear and “head banging against the wall” issue is access—or rather, ensuring that everyone has access to the diabetes devices, tools, and resources they believe work best for them in managing their healthcare. As far as we’ve come in the past three decades, we have a long way to go in making sure that everyone who needs help can find what they need, when they need it.