If You Knew What Living with Diabetes was like 30 years ago, You’d be more Appreciative of your Current Technology....?

I didn’t have diabetes 50 years ago… or 40… or 30… or even 20. I developed it later in life than most which, for me, was 15 years ago. I couldn’t tell you what it was like managing diabetes at that time because I wasn’t managing mine. I was spending all of my time ignoring it and being sick. A doctor put a pump in my hand, and that was the beginning of my story. That was my diabetes “childhood”, and I grew up with technology. I have no reference whatsoever to what living with diabetes must’ve been like before there was technology, but I’ve spent a good deal of my diabetic life thinking about it… and imagining… and feeling most appreciative that I came up when I did. But… does never having experienced diabetic living without technology mean I should compromise my current standards of the technology I use at this time? Does it mean I’m unappreciative if I’m unsatisfied with my pump? Or my sensor? And here’s one I will never be able to answer… Is the use of technology an 100% improvement over living a life with diabetes without it?

I’m home sick, all coffeed up, nowhere to go. This topic came from a “discussion” (if discussions include putdowns and very bad words) I witnessed last night, and it’s had me thinking since. My instinct is there’s no one right answer, it’s not black and white, there have been huge improvements but also the development of new kinds of burden, blah blah blah… but I didn’t have diabetes 30 years ago. So my instinct is conjecture and nothing more.

I’d love to hear from anyone who feels like participating. Just curious how you all feel about your technology and whether or not having lived without it previously affects your current standards.

That just sounded like a college assignment. I really just want to hear you guys talk.


There are plenty of stories from old timers here on FUD about life pre-technology. I’m so thankful that we have the technology that we do today because the archaic devices of the past scare me and would have certainly scared the crap out of Liam.

Like the Guillotine Lancing device. ::shivers at even the sound of it::



Yeah. That looks like a homemade pocket-sized torture device. I wouldn’t put my finger in that now… never mind as a child. :grin:

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I think you’re right that these questions will never be truly answerable, because even among individuals, there’s so much variation. There are people who managed excellent control with a fraction of the technology we have now. So for them, the technological advances may be far less impactful than for those of us who have experienced a great improvement in control from them.

I also think you’re right that there are trade offs. I’m not sure I would say diabetes is easier today, but I would say it’s different. In some ways it’s more intense today, but it’s also a lot safer. In some ways, people worry today in a way they did not seem to worry when I was younger (but maybe they did worry and I just didn’t know). I do know that for me, I would never choose to go back.

I wasn’t diagnosed in the true dark ages, but I was diagnosed more than 27 years ago; before insulin analogues, insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors, modern glucose meters, software that collects and analyzes data, and the internet. Sometimes it’s a bit shocking to me that anyone diagnosed in the past 15 years has never used some of the classes of insulin out there such as short- and intermediate-acting insulin. I don’t consider myself an “old timer” and yet I’ve already experienced something that many in the newer generation will never experience. (As well as meters that require a “hanging drop” of blood. Or lancing devices with no adjustable depth settings. Remember those?) I do think that one difference is that I don’t feel like I’m tied to a pump and CGM the same way some more newly diagnosed people are. I routinely disconnect from these tools and go for a day or a couple of days without them. I may not have as tight cotntrol doing so, but it’s not going to be life-threatening for me. I find doing this often replaces any frustration I have with gratitude.

For myself personally, I remind myself to be grateful for the technology daily. Even today, having a pump and CGM is not the norm for people with Type 1 diabetes in developed countries. Pumps are used by about half and CGMs by less than a third of those receiving top-notch medical care, or so I’ve read. All of us who have access to it are supremely lucky that we either have the insurance or the income to obtain such technology.

I was just talking to my mom about this on the weeeknd. Not in terms of diabetes, but just in terms of being grateful. No matter what is going on in our lives, we have pretty darn good lives. We have food, shelter, running water, flushable toilets, a loving family, a safe community, access to good healthcare, disposable income. Life cannot get much better than that.


Having not had the technology back then has made it not as necessary for me.

So I could counter your subject with one like this:

Having Learned to Live with Diabetes (over) 30 years ago, I’m Less Appreciative of the Current Technology….

Yes I appreciate BG meters and newer insulins, particularly basals. But all the other stuff is not as important to me.

If they were stuck in the woods and wanted to start a fire, who would need a lighter more, a modern man or a pioneer from the 1800’s?

This is my current lancing device.


I still use it this way most of the time. I just got used to it because it was always easier than carrying a big device around everywhere.


It’s stuff like this that makes me envision you as the Jason Bourne of Diabetes, @Eric. (Intended as a compliment, of course.)


That lancing device needle looks massive compared to our lancing device. That looks like it puts a hole in your finger the size of the grand canyon each time. It looks like, seriously, the size of a wall tack. :stuck_out_tongue:


For Liam, having the lancing device also controls the depth the needle goes into his finger…right now we’re still able to get blood with it only on 1. I can’t imagine sticking that whole thing into his finger. :stuck_out_tongue:

You like pain! I’ve finally figured it out…

I have learned to control the depth of it with my fingers. You choke up on it a little bit to control how deep it goes.

Seeing the thumbtack picture brings to mind this fun fact. Several times when I did not have a lancet and was at work, I used staples.


I’ve also used a plain lancet at times when for whatever reason I had no lancing device. You can definitely still control the depth so it just pricks the skin without sticking the entire thing in your finger. :slight_smile:

About 12 years ago I took a picture comparing one of my lancets from 1991 to one from 2007. After seeing that, it’s impossible to call any modern lancet a thumbtack. :slight_smile: I’m sure 2019 lancets would have an even more dramatic difference in gauge!


I’ve really only noticed a few differences.

–I get a number and not a range from hours ago when I take my blood sugar instead of peeing on a stick.
–Lows are mostly manageable and not life-threatening emergencies.
–I spend my day playing with the advanced technology instead of worrying if I have to eat.
–I am able to run my life instead of insulin running my life.
–And most important, I can eat donuts, ice cream, and candy and control my blood sugar.


For me the big game changer was access to information. 38 years ago my diabetes education was controlled by my doctor and Diabetes Forecast magazine. Scary thought right? I was 20 years into the disease until I really learned how to control it.


Oh Diabetes Forecast! I remember getting that magazine over 20 years ago.

I wholeheartedly agree that today’s tech makes diabetes so much better. I would have probably lived life differently if I’d had a CGM. Certainly would have made better food choices growing up, since I was diagnosed at 8 and got my CGM at 26! (Waiting 45 seconds for a blood sugar reading was tortuous…)


I was diagnosed 41 years ago, and actually had a pretty fabulous childhood. Because I recognised my hypos from very early on, I had a lot more freedom than kids seem to these days. I stayed on my own from about age 7, while my parents renovated our new house in a different part of town.
I was one of the first kids to use disposable syringes from diagnosis, but we had some glass ones as backup!
Pee testing - OMG I hated it. My test tube was always orange, or 4+ of glucose.
When finger stick tests first came in, I resisted like mad. I had that Autolet lancet device. It hurt, and I only ever used to pull back the guillotine bit to half way. I’d get bruises from the full whack.
I cheated my fingerstick tests for nearly a decade before my parents realised, by adding a drop of water to the blood on the stick.
Given I wasn’t on MDI, there was nothing to adjust on a day to day basis, so finger sticking was just another tedious exercise with little point. Kind of still feel that way a bit. CGM gives so much more information!
I’ve been pumping for 20 years this December, and it really suits me. My first pump was a Medtronic 507c. After another 4 Medtronics I have recently moved to a Dana RS. For DIY looping. Looping is amazing and I will never go back to manual, ever. And I probably won’t bother too much with commercial loops.
There has been so much change in my D lifetime, I wonder how much more I will see? I am aiming to live to about 93, as my family seems to have lots of longevity genes and I am fit and healthy at age 46 now.
Not sure I have quite enough superannuation for that though, I might need to keep working forever…


Having been diagnosed 46 years ago, I can definitely say that I am very appreciative of the technology we have today. I would say that when I grew up it was the dark ages of diabetes, meaning that we didn’t know what we didn’t know. We just went about our lives, la di da, with no idea that my BG was probably high all of the time (what does a clinitest tablet really tell you?!?). We definitely did not worry as much though, as I don’t think that we even knew what to worry about (other than lows).

Managing my T1D today is VERY different than anything I did as a young adult. It’s waaaay more intensive because of all the info that you have at your fingertips. But I love data and I love managing things, so it’s great for me. Even so, I think that I am glad that I did not have all of this technology as a kid.


I agree with all that’s been shared by others who remember caring for diabetes before the new technology. I would add, though, that I was always very grateful to have been diagnosed when I was because I was grateful to have insulin. But I am extremely grateful for the newer insulins, glucometers and cgms, and knowing that eating is all about carbs, not the exchange list. Just wish I could do more to help type 1s where I live.


I so agree! I’m about to move in to my 47th year with Type 1.

Not knowing anything at that age and those times was blissful ignorance. The days of just dipping your urine for a “range”, Ketone strips, the ugly awful glass syringes that looked like they would help plant a flower bulb…those were definitely the old days. I remember, around 1979-1980ish, my Dr’s nurse came into my exam room with what looked almost like a shoe box. She tells me that it will give a quick reading of my bs.!!!I Since that day so, so many tools have become available.
There have been such major steps. .

It has become very intensive, time consuming and very often, down right annoying.

Wouldn’t change current technology for anything-turns out that ignorance is not always bliss!


I think what’s somewhat telling is how some long-term diabetics fight the new technology… until they embrace it eventually and can never go back. I know someone who was against MDI in the 1990s because who wants to take shots all day and in public, then against the pump because who wants to be attached to something, then against a CGM because who wants another device and all that data, etc etc


Then you have @Eric, who is never satisfied with any of the tech and goes and does amazing stuff on his own to control his dia.


Simple answer… IT DEPENDS.

My answer… (54 years T1D).

First 20 years, K-12, college, moving to new state for new job… Managed T1D using single injection Lente insulin. Urine testing, record logs, bring to dr, told to up dose 1 or 2 units based on logs. (Lots of 4+). No diet guidance except NO SWEETS, CANDY. But bread, cereals, etc, all ok. Employer HC did not cover pre-existing condition.
Told diabetes complication (eyes, kidneys, amputations etc), result of the Disease, not the high BGs. At this point was not seeing endo. Eye exam showed early changes. But I was following doctors orders.

Mid 1980s, moved to new job, new state, good insurance, found new endo. New technology!! BG testing !!! But still considered as info for dr to use to change dose, as I was started on NPH and Reg, and “fixed” dose for “x” food exchanges. Dr reviewed logs and instructed dose adjustments. These were the doctor knows best days, do as told. BG meters available, with manually logging and review at next appt. High tech??? No.

1990s I started hearing about pump, and attended T1D support groups (in person). Huge turning point. Soon I was starting pump (Reg), and taught carb counting. Paying more attention to carbs and after meal BGs. Guess what, they are related ! So did technology drive this recognition? Why did they only teach carb counting, when starting pump ? Duh???

When Medtronic CGMS came out, I learned about it from a co-worker, with T1D son. My theory is that the oldies were not introduced to new stuff as quickly as new patients were. I had to learn it from the support groups.

So… long answer to your question…
For me, use of technology probably saved my eyesight, enabled me to continue working, including hectic stressful schedules, travel, and reduce my A1C to halt progression of complications. But it was later than it could have been.

I feel completely let down by the system that engaged new patients with newer treatments, as though it was too late to help me. Since my use of technology, it is 200% improvement.


Yes yes yes.

Pediatric patients get best education and treatment options laid out here locally still. Adults and new adult T1’s don’t get same level of care in the various offices I’ve been to. I’m still one of the only patients at my endo office using a CGM. And I was the one who asked for it, obviously. Thank goodness for SixUntilMe or I never would have known.