Diabetes Details 12: By The Numbers
On October 31, it will be fourteen years since I went to Sparrow Hospital in Lansing and was officially diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. (Tip: Halloween is a crappy day to become a diabetic.)
I’ve talked about the disease before, because yay education and knowledge! Those entries are available by clicking on the diabetes tag.
I thought it would be interesting to try to figure out some numbers as of the fourteenth anniversary of my pancreas calling it quits. As of 10/31/2012…
- I will have tested my blood sugar approximately 28,000 times. (That’s 2800 times per finger.)
- By the time I switched to the insulin pump in 2006, I had taken about 15,000 injections.
- On the pump, I’ve switched sites about 840 times, rotating to different spots on my belly, and occasionally the hips.
- I’ve worked with three different endocrinologists, one of whom I dumped because he was a prick, and one of whom left his practice.
- The lowest blood sugar I can remember was when I was in grad school, not too long after the diagnosis. I was walking to a class and started feeling really fuzzy. By the time I got back and tested, my blood sugar was in the 20s. (Normal is around 100, give or take.)
- The highest was the night before my diagnosis. I went out to dinner with my family, then checked my blood on my dad’s meter to confirm whether I was right about being diabetic. The meter errored out because it couldn’t read that high, which means my blood sugar was above 600.
- Blood sugar as I write this blog post: 96.
- I’ve had between 40 and 50 blood draws for labwork. (Most of which have gone very smoothly. Props to the Sparrow Lab on Pennsylvania.)
- Best guess as to the total cost of medicine and equipment to keep me alive these past 14 years: $86,000.
- $33,000 (test strips)
- $8000 (lancets)
- $18,000 (insulin)
- $1000 (syringes)
- $16,000 (insulin pump sets)
- $10,000 (insulin pumps – 2)
- Cost of the initial hospitalization, visits to the endocrinologist, pump education, and dietician, and miscellaneous labwork: I have no freaking idea. Let’s just call it “a lot.”
- Average number of years this disease shaves off of my life expectancy: 5.
- But screw that. I plan to live forever.
- Number of additional years of life I’ve gained thanks to a century’s worth of research into insulin and diabetes treatment: 14 and counting.
All of which makes me very grateful to be in a position where I’m able to get reasonably good health insurance, as well as for living at a time when this disease is manageable, as opposed to being a death sentence.
A cure would be nice, and sometimes diabetes is a significant pain in the ass, but given the alternatives, I will happily keep jabbing my fingers and pumping insulin into my belly.
October 22, 2012 @ 9:59 am
You forgot number of candy bars not consumed.
Jim C. Hines
October 22, 2012 @ 10:36 am
I was never much of a candy bar person, even before the diabetes.
On the other hand, I’ve probably had at least 10,000 diet sodas as a result of the disease, which is a little scary…
October 22, 2012 @ 10:43 am
It is always interesting to find out people you know of also have type 1 diabetes (As a note I read the StepSister Scheme, highly entertaining a while ago and thanks to friends constantly linking to your blog, following you on twitter)
I was diagnosed when I was 12 so in 1991. I dread to think how many blood tests I have done or injections over the last 21 years. I started on a pump not quite 2 years ago now and it is great.
Like you I would rather not be diabetic but as long term illness goes there are definitely worse places to be
To Mattw for me at least type 1 diabetes hasn’t changed my diet one bit, I don’t drink full sugar drinks but otherwise I eat the same healthy (or not so healthy) diet as everyone else, as exemplified by how excited I got when my nephew found a candy floss (cotton candy) machine in the family restaurant we were in. I love candy floss
October 22, 2012 @ 11:07 am
Your diabetes blogs are fascinating. My only first hand experience with diabetes has been a few months with the gestational variety. It was the worst several months of my life, as I controlled it with diet and not insulin. That meant I virtually gave up carbohydrates except for small amounts of berries and fiber cereal. Telling a woman 6 months pregnant that she can’t have that thing she’s craving because it will spike her blood sugar makes for a very cranky preggosaur (especially since I didn’t want to have anything with fake sugar… what with the weird chemicals being possibly transferred to the small tenant, and all). All of this has instilled in me a fervent desire never to develop type 2 diabetes. That said, I didn’t really know anything about Type 1 before. Thanks for sharing all of those experiences – I’ve found all of these diabetes blogs hugely educational.
Jim C. Hines
October 22, 2012 @ 1:46 pm
First off, thank you, and I’m glad you liked the book!
I love that the technology and treatments have progressed to the point where we can have more flexibility in what and when we eat. My father was diagnosed as type 1 thirty-eight years ago, and in the beginning, he had to be much more regimented and disciplined about his diet.
Me, well, let’s just say part of the anniversary festivities this weekend was me and my wife enjoying root beer floats together 🙂
Jim C. Hines
October 22, 2012 @ 2:01 pm
I’m glad these have been useful!
Type 1 and 2 are both obnoxious and frustrating in their own special ways. Definitely not fun, but I’m glad yours was only temporary.
October 22, 2012 @ 3:27 pm
I swear my father-in-law, also a type-1 diabetic, is addicted to Diet Coke.
October 22, 2012 @ 5:01 pm
When I was first diagnosed I remember being told that before insulin the type 1 diabetics diet was mostly cabbage which definitely didn’t sound like fun. I do remember having to wait two minutes to get a blood sugar result which was based on comparing the colour of the strip to the back of the tube and unfortunately for my control as a teenager was very easy to improve by wiping early
You may find http://www.diabetesgenes.org/ interesting, I work at a scientific institute and we had a seminar from Andrew Hattersley about some forms of monogenic diabetes being a problem with potassium transport that can be fixed with tablets. I did spend the entire seminar trying to convince myself that my type 1 was monogenic but unfortunately my presentation was classic autoimmune type 1
October 22, 2012 @ 5:04 pm
I also love diet coke, interesting before I developed diabetes I hated the stuff, couldn’t stand the taste of the sweetener, then I got the interminable thirst of pre diagnosis where I would drink anything that was liquid and have of course loved it ever since which is good as when out it is pretty much the old suger free drink you can reliably get (It is getting better these days) though you do have to remember when in Europe that you have to ask for Coca Light not diet coke and it is sweeter than US or UK diet coke
October 22, 2012 @ 11:21 pm
Are those your out-of-pocket costs or total cost before insurance? How much does insurance cover? I don’t have diabetes, but do have Type 1’s kissing cousin Celiac Disease. Fortunately, it just takes a gluten free diet, which can be expensive, but nothing like the cost of medications. A good health plan is worth everything when you have a lifelong disease.
Jim C. Hines
October 23, 2012 @ 7:38 am
That’s my best estimate of the total cost before insurance. I’m pretty fortunate to have good insurance coverage, at least for now. Copays can add up too, but I can’t imagine how I’d be able to do this without the insurance.
Jim C. Hines
October 23, 2012 @ 7:40 am
I remember hearing about the boiled cabbage diet, and even then, as I understand it, all you were doing was prolonging the inevitable a bit.
My father used to do the same thing to check his sugar. I remember those little canisters and their color codes…
And thanks for the link!
October 24, 2012 @ 6:45 pm
I enjoy all of your posts, of course, but find the medical ones especially interesting.
My oldest brother was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1953, when he was 4 years old. I think you can imagine what his treatment was like. My mother literally devoted all of her energy into keeping him alive and from going into shock/convulsions. Things were made more difficult because we moved every few months and she was always trying to find a new doctor who knew what diabetes was and how to treat it in a child. She usually knew more than the medical professionals and ended up educating them.
You may be glad to know that he’s now 63 years old, is extremely active, and is in excellent health. He’s meticulous about his diet and medication and it has definitely paid off. There’s hope.
October 29, 2012 @ 1:45 pm
Ralph Moody, a Western author, wrote in his autobiographical Little Britches series about a diagnosis of diabetes around 1920- he was essentially sent home to die. (Luckily, the diagnosis turned out to be incorrect- but not before he spent a few years living on sauerkraut)
November 12, 2012 @ 5:57 pm
Hey. I believe there is something incorrect with your links. I hope you can fix it!