Hello! Who are you? And tell us a little bit more about your diabetes.
I’m living with my girlfriend, her two kids and our 2 dogs in a house near Stuttgart. I’m working as a social worker since 25 years. In my job, I try to help kids and families to get along with their problems and difficult situations. In my free time I make german rap music since 1991. I work with kids and some young refugees from Syria and Afghanistan to create their own hiphop music. Furthermore I am a beekeeper and produce my own honey, for my family and my friends. Sometimes when I am bored I go skydiving, climbing or skiing. At the moment I am planing a German podcast-channel called “typ_e1ns-podcast” to discuss the topic of diabetes and to share my experience and the handling of my diabetes.
I became a type one diabetic on the age of 13. I think that the diagnosis was harder for my parents and my older sister than it was for me. Especially my mom struggled a lot in the first few years. For me it was not so hard because I thought it would be gone one day (like a cold). I never had problems with injections because I thought it made me special. At the age of 27 I got a “diabetes-tattoo” on my arm because it belongs to me and my life.
I never hid my diabetes. I always spoke to other people about it and I always took my injections in public when it was necessary.
“Don’t let diabetes rule your life.”
How do you treat your diabetes, did a lot change over the past years and are you able to manage it well?
I get my support from my family and a few friends with diabetes too. Either I have a diabetologist and a nutritionist which I visit a few times a year for interaction. I think the best and most important support is my knowledge about my diabetes and the facts about diabetes. Knowledge is power 😉
I use the Dexcom G6 CGM combined with my smartphone and my smartwatch. I only do blood tests to calibrate my CGM and when I have a very high or low blood sugar.
I use Novorapid (fast insulin) and Toujeo (long-term insulin). I normally inject 30 united of Toujeo once a day in the evening at 8PM and Novorapid each time before I eat carbs or to reduce a high blood sugar. Before I used Actrapid, Protaphane, Actraphane, Humalog, Levimir, Tresiba and Fiasp.
In the last 30 years a lot has changed 😉 Back in the days it took me about 3 to 5 minutes to control my sugar level. It was a very big “machine” called Reflolux and the test result was not very exactly. The insulin called Actrapid and Protaphane was not injected with a pen. I sued disposable syringes and glass ampoules. Even the carbohydrate calculation was totally different from today. The development is absolutely positive. It’s much easier to have a a stable blood sugar today. The diabetes research today is of course much more advanced.
Since the last 10 years I think I can manage my diabetes very good. When I was younger I didn’t do my best and I made a lot of mistakes. Nowadays I have bad days too and there are times I don’t have the power to do my best. I am only human and that means that we all make mistakes but I have no bad conscience because of that. This are MY mistakes and in 95% of the time I have a real good management with my health.
Can you recognize the symptoms of a low/high blood sugar? Do you test often and can you tell a bit more about your experiences with low blood sugar?
Yes, I can recognize them. When I’m near to get a low blood sugar I feel tired and dizziness. When I’m in a high blood range it feels like I had worked 5 days without sleep. I get a headache and feel very sick. When I was younger I named it “blutschmerz” (blood pain). That means it feels like my blood is hurting because my body is overacidified.
I have maybe 2 to 3 low sugar levels under 55mg/dl a week and maybe 1 to 3 times a level higher than 180 mg/dl. Normally this situation lasts for a few minutes till an hour. I realize it very fast with my Dexcom G6 CGM. Sometimes I reach a blood sugar level is over 250.
My doctor told me to test my glucose level 5 to 6 times a day. Since I got my CGM I take a look at my smartwatch about twice to three times an hour. When I have a high or low level I take a look it a few times more. If I can’t correctly assess a meal, I will of course look at my results more often.
I normally take 1 to 2 spoons of honey to fight a low blood sugar. A small spoon of honey is around 10g to 12g of carbs and it increases my blood sugar by about 30 mg/dl. That is very fast. Honey is more healthy as pure sugar. I don’t have honey with me all the time, so I also eat fruits, drink juice or a glas of coke.
I fainted a few times (maybe 5 or 6 times) in my diabetic “career”. Most of the times it happened in the night and I did not realize it. I always needed help from other people. The last time was 3 years ago. Thank god my girlfriend has a very light sleep. She woke up and helped me out.
Food and diet
How does your diabetes affect your eating and do you find being on a diet restrictive?
When I wake up at 7:30AM or 8:00AM I normally eat cornflakes and drink a lot of coffee. Sometimes I skip meals and I eat snacks between meals. That can be fruits, yoghurt or something else like that.
I love fruit salad, mashed potatoes and cheese noodles. What I really love is a specialty from the Frankfurt area, where my parents come from. The “Frankfurter grie Soß”, a sour cream sauce with various herbs, egg and boiled potatoes. I looooveeee iiiittttt!!! There is so much more I like to eat.
I always calculate my insulin dose for each meal. Sometimes I am more hungry and sometimes I don’t want to eat so much. I count the carbs and react with the correct dose of insulin.
I nearly never drink water. I drink a lot of coffee, sugar free softdrinks or tea.
In the first years it was very difficult for me to be on diet. Nowadays I get along with it, and in Germany there is nothing that I would have to live without. If you cook your own food you can eat what you want.
When people ask me about eating or not eating certain food I don’t get annoyed. They do that because they don’t know better. I explain it to them. Most of them understand my situation and want to know more about it. And believe me, if I tell them to stop bothering me, they stop 😉
Do you believe that a plant based diet can improve diabetes? Did you ever experiment with this?
YES! I only eat very very few meat. I think it’s once or twice a month.
Do you have a hard time eating out in a restaurant? And what are you thoughts on making this easier?
No, that was never a problem for me. I love cooking at home with my girlfriend, go to my mom when she cooked or go out for some Chinese or Spanish food.
“Knowledge is power!”
Exercise and work
Does your diabetes restrict you from exercise or your daily job?
Every day I go for a walk with my dogs. I go skydiving, climbing or skiing.
I am a social worker. It affects my diabetes because I have to deal with poverty, illness and difficult life situations of children and other people. I can feel it in my diabetes.
Do you have any positive or negative effects because of your diabetes?
To manage my diabetes better I read news and facts … because knowledge about my diabetes is power.
The hardest part about being a diabetic is not to know if I will get any complications one day.
The best part is that I’m one of the sweetest people living on planet earth… if I want 😉 I know things about me and my body that other people will never know.
I am diabetic for over 30 years. It would not be normal if I would not have a few little problems. But there is nothing to worry about.
Germany has a very good health system and in Germany we are free and can live the life we want. I would like it to be the same for everyone in the world.
What is the best advice that you can give to non-diabetics, new diagnosed diabetics and diabetics?
I wouldn’t share anything with a non-diabetic. Why should a healthy person feel like a diabetic … this is our sweet world 😉
Do not lose your courage and have no bad conscience if you make mistakes. You make the rules. Don’t let diabetes rule your life. Learn a lot about yourself, your body and your reactions.
Knowledge is power!
What would you ask the other diabetics?
Are you happy?
Feel free to answer in the comments below.
Want to publish your own story?
Hey! I’m Ely Fornoville, the founder of Diabetic & Me.
We interview people with diabetes share the stories behind their lives.
By sharing these stories, we want to help others to understand life with diabetes.
If you liked this story, join our mailing list for new stories.
Interested in sharing your own story? Share your story with us!