Today I had the pleasure of speaking with John Theissler who has Type 1 diabetes. John has been living with Type 1 since the young age of 9 years old, but he hasn’t let that stop him. He has moved forward with a positive attitude and understands the value of being positive when living with a chronic illness.
First off, what type of diabetes do you have? We have readers with all types, so it’s important to talk about this first.
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
How were you made aware that you had diabetes? Please share your diagnosis story with our readers.
I was diagnosed at the age of 9, in September of 2000. My parents thought I was diabetic during a trip to Prince Edward Island over the summer because I was constantly drinking and going to the bathroom. My mother made the appointment to get me tested as soon as we got back from our trip.
We’re all curious, even if we live the life, everyone is different, what is a typical day like for you?
A typical day for me, as of right now, I get up between 10:30-11:00am, check my sugar, take my long acting insulin and go about my day. Lunch usually happens around 3:00pm, and dinner time is greatly varied. I do tend to snack throughout the course of the day as well.
Describe the one scariest moment since your diagnosis.
I was walking around in a grocery store with my father. I was feeling a little bit off, stiff, sluggish, just tired. I figured that was from sleeping in the trailer. My father walked around the end of an aisle ahead of me, and something just clicked. I was carrying a glass measuring cup, and a few other things. I yelled “Dad Seizure!’ And apparently then proceeded to set everything I was carrying on the floor out of the way, then lay down and seize.
Living with a chronic illness can be overwhelming, how do you cope with the constant battle of trying to maintain a proper balance with your blood sugars?
I am willing to admit that over the past 16 years, I really struggled with it. I have been in and out of the Hospital with DKA basically once a month from 2011 until September of this year. In September of this year I decided to completely cut dairy from my diet, mainly because I developed a lactose intolerance, and I joined a type 1 diabetes support group. since doing that, my numbers have normalized.
If you could give one tip to someone newly diagnosed what would it be?
Always remember to check your sugars. There is no such thing as checking too much.
What is the most challenging aspect to you, in living with diabetes?
I have been living with type 1 Diabetes for the past 16 years. Over the years many things have happened which have changed the way I approach my diabetes care. In the past I have had seizures because of rapid drops in my sugar levels. With that happening, I think it caused me to develop a deep routed fear of going severely low in public, so I started pushing my sugars higher to avoid that happening. I was keeping them at around 12-18 (216-324). I guess I found it challenging to get my readings down to normal range.
What was your reaction when you found out you had diabetes?
I was diagnosed at the age of 9. I didn’t really pay attention when I was diagnosed. My logic was “it is something that my parents will take care of.”
What was hardest for you and your family — emotionally? Or financially?
Over the years, I have dealt with emotional burnout many times. Emotional burnout with regards to Diabetes is reaching a point where you are tired of everything, fed up with it, not wanting to keep going with your diabetes care. It was very hard for me because, no matter how badly the people around me wanted to understand what I was going through, there is no way that they can possibly know what I am dealing with unless they are a type 1 diabetic as well.
How often do you have to test your glucose levels?
I should be testing my glucose levels 4 times a day minimum. however, I tend to check only 2 or 3 times a day on average.
What insulins have you used or do you currently use?
I have used many insulins over the years. As of right now, I am on Humalog, and I take Lantus as my long acting.
What would you like people who have diabetes to know?
I would want fellow Diabetics to know that you are not alone out there. There are so many of us out there and we will support you!
Who do you get support from? Who treats you?
I am followed by both my Endocrinologist and a nurse and dietitian from the Diabetes Education Center.
Let’s conclude on a positive note. I know it can be difficult to find the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you thought really hard, what is one positive thing that diabetes has brought to your life?
Being a diabetic since I was in Grade 4, Diabetes has really helped me in school. I loved science because I really wanted to understand what exactly was going on with my body. I also wanted to get a job where I am helping other people.