Her husband has been a great support, said Warner, helping her maintain her strict mealtimes and exercise. Friends help her out, too. “So I’ve got an army behind me — the cavalry,” she said, chuckling.
Medical technology has made it easier to monitor and regulate her blood sugar level. For her insulin shots, she went from steel needles, which she sharpened herself on a whetstone, and glass syringes — all of which she had to boil to keep them sterile — to disposable needles and now to a “pen” that she uses to dispense a precise amount of insulin.
Shidler, who has just finished her master’s degree in diabetes education and management, noted that several varieties of insulin “pens” exist. “You just dial the dose. They’re much easier to learn to use and carry with you,” she said. They also allow people with diabetes to take their doses discreetly when they’re eating out.
Automatic insulin pumps, used instead of needles or “pens,” have come into more widespread use since the heavy “blue brick,” as those familiar with an early pump called it, came out in the 1970s. Continuous blood sugar monitors have also become more common over the last five years as private insurance companies started covering their cost.
Researchers are trying for an artificial pancreas — more or less combining the insulin pump and the continuous blood sugar monitor — that will automatically respond to high or low blood sugar and adjust the insulin injections accordingly.
Until then, Warner encourages those with diabetes to keep on keeping on.
“Through it all I’m not throwing in the rag,” continued Warner. “I’m not going to get upset or stressed.”
After all, “it raises your sugar,” she said, smiling.
Sarah Einselen is news editor at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at email@example.com or 574-732-5151.