I have lived with Type 1 diabetes for 30 years. During this time I’ve had to face the horrors of an indifferent insurance industry which branded me “unworthy” due to my “pre existing condition.” I’ve endured injecting myself 4x a day, sometimes more. My fingers have callouses from being pricked for blood glucose measurements, also 4x a day. To be honest, I kind of gave up on caring for myself for a while until technology changed my life.
With the advent of continuous glucose monitors, I could quell my ever present anxiety by always knowing my number, and which direction it was going in. With new formulations of insulin, I was able get closer to normal eating patterns. 14 years ago I started using a pump, the Omnipod, which was an incredibly frustrating device to use in its early days, but I kept with it as I knew its potential. Through pure bloody-minded determination I was able to bring my A1C below 6 and time in range to 70% with no algorithms to assist me.
A few months ago I made the decision to stop using the Omnipod. After an unpleasant experience working for Insulet, I didn’t need the daily reminder of a “dream job” gone terribly wrong. I did this for my mental health. Thankfully I now work for a wonderful company that truly does put its employees first, and I have been allowed to flourish.
I have been using the Tandem t:slim X2 for the past couple of months, and the experience has been incredible. Sure, there was a learning curve. Sure, I’ve had a few bad days. But I stuck with it, and when I finally let go and let the algorithm guide me, I started seeing results I previously could only dream of.
Today something happened that hasn’t happened for 30 years. I spent an entire 24 hour period “in range”, which if you know anyone with T1D, you will know is a really big deal. I’m not afraid to admit I watched my numbers for the last hour, knowing how close I was to my 100%. And then it happened, and I cried tears like I haven’t cried before. Not every day will be 100% – life is just too unpredictable for that – but knowing it’s a real possibility for me is life changing.
Even when you want to give up, there’s a voice telling you not to. Listen to that voice. Know that you are not alone and that your struggles can be shared. And when you fall, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. These are the lessons I have learned over the last 30 years I’ve lived with this disease.
Thank you Tandem Diabetes Care for making today possible.
BIO: Michael Spencer has lived with Type 1 diabetes for over 30 years. Born in England, raised in California, a degree from the University of Missouri, 5 years in Edinburgh, Scotland followed by a 10 year stint in Austin, TX, and now living happily in New Hampshire – he’s always had a love for travel and new experiences.
When he was first diagnosed at the age of 16, he hid his condition from others, afraid of being thought of as a “junky” for brandishing needles in public, or being told for the umpteenth time how someone would “rather die” than face multiple daily injections. Through college this denialism turned into alcoholism and years of self-harm ensued. It was the love of a very special woman who turned all of that around, starting in 2006 while he was living in Austin. Over the next 15 years Michael transformed himself professionally, starting as a temp worker testing video poker machines before getting an opportunity to work as a business analyst which eventually led to the start of a successful career as a Salesforce.com professional. After working as a Salesforce.com implementation consultant for several years, Michael has moved into Solution Architecture and team management, and is currently an Associate Director of Salesforce Platforms. Michael has been married for 10 years and has two beautiful boys to keep him busy and motivated to stay healthy.