Fortunately, modern medicine has brought hope to many diabetics, or people with diabetes. Unlike in centuries past, the cause of diabetes is now well known, and many medicines and other treatments can help diabetics control their illness. Some diabetics must take insulin several times a day, but others do not. Diabetics must be careful with their nutrition and watch their weight, monitor their blood sugar frequently, and stay active, but they can often live energetic, productive lives as well.
Two people who have lived a very long time after being diagnosed with diabetes in childhood are Robert and Gerald Cleveland, brothers who live in Syracuse, New York. They developed diabetes shortly after the discovery of insulin in 1921, and more than seven decades later, neither one of them has developed any serious complications.
They say their mother, Henrietta, carefully taught them how to care for themselves so they could stay healthy. "The doctor prescribed the diet I should be on, and my mother was most careful about sticking to it," Robert Cleveland says. "There were very few carbohydrates, a quart and a half of milk every day, and there were lots of vegetables and proteins."3
Another remarkable diabetes success story is Gladys Dull. She has been taking insulin since 1924, just a few months before she turned seven. Gladys is believed to be the oldest living person with diabetes, and she is still going strong in her nineties, thanks in large part to never missing an insulin shot. She calculates she has had more than sixty thousand shots since 1924. Furthermore, this lively ninety-year-old says she has survived so well and so long with diabetes because she remained active most of her life and has always eaten a healthy diet. "When I was younger, I did everything—horseback riding, cycling, snowmobiling, motorcycle riding—I always stayed active,"4 she says. In addition, Gladys still very carefully determines her portions of food and has remained on a similar diet her whole life, which means her insulin requirements do not change much. "I give my mother credit for that," she says. "She was strict with me, and I thank her for it now."5
The Cleveland brothers and Gladys Dull have done an excellent job of controlling their diabetes, even though for much of their lives they did not have the gifts of the medical technology and drugs we have today. This shows that with proper care, the battle with diabetes can be won through daily hard work. Today, research into this illness continues, and people who are diagnosed with diabetes have a better-than-ever chance of surviving, and surviving well, for many years.
Was this article helpful?