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Diabetic & Me

Timothy McDonald

Timothy McDonald

Hello! Who are you? And tell us a little bit more about your diabetes.

Hey everyone! My name is Timothy McDonald. I’m 27 years old and currently living in United States. I have type 1 diabetes for a total of 22 years.

I was diagnosed at 5 years old, so I had to grow up with it. My mom made sure to inform everyone she met about my condition (teachers, restaurant staff, cashiers, random people in public, etc.) However, I tried to be a bit more discreet with it. Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to bring my blood sugar kit, insulin, or even glucose tabs with me into the classroom. I had to run all the way across the school to the nurse if I ever ran into an issue with diabetes. Looking back, this probably wasn’t the safest thing.

For my parents, it was probably mostly emotionally hard. I don’t remember it too much, but I’m sure they were devastated. For me, it was just life. My personal biggest issue is the financial aspect of it. Even after 22 years, I do not have a pump or CGM, simply because I can’t afford them.

“My mom made sure to inform everyone she met about my condition.”

Your treatment

How do you treat your diabetes, did a lot change over the past years and are you able to manage it well?

Currently I do things old school with multiple daily injections . I am using Humalog and Tresiba insulin. I have used quite a few, it seems I have to take new insulins every time my insurance changes. The ones I remember include Regular, Lente, Ultralente, Humalog, Novolog, Lantus and Tresiba.

Humalog and Lantus came out, which really helped with my control as a kid. Being on Regular and Ultralente at 5 years old was tough!

I don’t think I treat my diabetes bad at all, considering my relatively lax approach to treatment. In my teens, I got most of my support from my family or the internet. For some reason my parents stopped taking me to the endocrinologist all together from the ages of 14-18, so I had to fend for myself and get information wherever I could. Especially if I disagreed with my parents about something diabetes related. Currently, I take care of it mostly by myself. I have a doctor that fills prescriptions, but they don’t offer much detailed advice. I have my girlfriend who may not know a whole lot about diabetes, but she’s great for emotional support.

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. Lows come with a variety of symptoms including weakness, an adrenaline rush, shakiness, cold sweats, and splotchy vision. The weakness and adrenaline rush come with pretty much every low, the others are usually reserved for 50s and below. High blood sugar gives me less pronounced symptoms that I’m less likely to notice. I only seem to get thirsty, blurred vision, and headaches.

I test myself anywhere from 3-10 times a day. Some days are easy if I don’t take any risks, don’t exercise, and don’t eating any weird foods. Others have me on my toes all day chasing highs and lows.

I eat a bunch of sugary food to treat a hypo, feel bad about myself 30 minutes later, notice my blood sugar is going higher than I’d like, and correct for the high.

Timothy McDonald

Food and diet

How does your diabetes affect your eating and do you find being on a diet restrictive?

I work 2nd shift, so my eating schedule is pushed back. Breakfast is generally something small like an English muffin around 11am. Lunch is around 5pm and more varied, but I will admit that I eat more fast food than I probably should. I eat dinner around 1am, and that is often some kind of chicken dish. Occasionally I’ll have something like a granola bar between lunch of dinner. I sometimes skip meals.

I vary my insulin dose for anything that I eat because I base my dosages on the amount of carbs in the dish. High fat/high carb foods like pizza usually require a small shot before I eat, and a larger dose after I finish. After 22 years, it’s not really a diet. It’s just what I eat.

I probably drink around 2 litres a day.

It’s frustrating with people not understanding. It makes me want to eat more of it just to spite them.

Do you believe that a plant based diet can improve diabetes? Did you ever experiment with this?

I’ve never tried it, so I wouldn’t know.

Do you have a hard time eating out in a restaurant? And what are you thoughts on making this easier?

The only types of restaurants I have issues with are Italian restaurants. It’s so easy to eat over 100 carbs from a single dish. I would prefer it if restaurants had accessible nutrition info.

“It’s frustrating with people not understanding. It makes me want to eat more of it just to spite them.”

Timothy McDonald

Exercise and work

Does your diabetes restrict you from exercise or your daily job?

Currently, I mainly run and do bodyweight exercises a few times a week. In the past, I ran track, and at one point I was a caving instructor.

I am a cleanroom technician for a precision optics manufacturer. Other than not being able to eat in the cleanroom, it doesn’t really affect my diabetes one way or the other.

Final

Do you have any positive or negative effects because of your diabetes?

Honestly, not really. I mainly just count my carbs, take my insulin accordingly, and exercise when I can.

The best part is that I can use the “my blood sugar is low” excuse to get out of anything. Who’s going to argue with that? The hardest part is my everchanging insulin needs. It seems like any small change in my routine will cause me to have to change things around.

Nothing quite kills the mood like your blood sugar dropping to 45.

I still live with my mom, so it is very difficult to try new diets to manage my diabetes better. If I buy something she doesn’t like, she’ll complain until I cave in and buy the same old stuff.

What is the best advice that you can give to non-diabetics, new diagnosed diabetics and diabetics?

For the most part I can do the same things you can, so don’t worry about me, I got this.

It gets boring. You may be scared, and be drowning in a tidal wave of information now, but you’ll eventually be able to do all of this without thinking.

Learn how to guesstimate carbs. Not everywhere has nutrition labels or a scale, so being able to eyeball things makes things a whole lot easier.

What would you ask the other diabetics?

What advancement in diabetes research are you most looking forward to?

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.

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