We spoke with Michael Schrom who lives in Othello, Washington, a farming community in Eastern Washington, about his life with type 1 diabetes.
“I was born in Ephrata and was living on a ranch near Smyrna when I was diagnosed in December of 1962. I was seven.
At that time, the average life expectancy was 20 years for a newly diagnosed person with type 1 diabetes. I started with u40 insulin and used all of its successors — u60, u80, and u100. I remember paying $9 for a case of ten 10ml vials.
My problem turned out to be I lived too long!! I didn’t have a long term plan.
I am dealing with retirement that I wasn’t supposed to reach. Actually, I am dealing with planning for my retirement. Not there yet. I work ten to six most days.
My success in dealing with my diabetes has turned out to be a mixed blessing. I don’t have an end in sight; I just keep dealing with debt and bills.
I am a self-employed automotive tech specializing in transmissions. I am a great mechanic but not a great businessman.
I have health insurance via my wife’s teaching career which has allowed me to pay for good diabetes technology. My daughter and a CDE friend of hers got me onto a pump.
I have had Omnipod pumps for almost 10 years and love that they don’t have tubes, which would snag things in my work. I started with a Dexcom 5 and now have a Dexcom 6 CGM.
Interestingly, the only complications I have had from diabetes occurred once I had better control of my blood glucose levels. In 2007, I got retinopathy in my right eye. This became severe and led to multiple laser surgeries, and finally, a Vitrectomy that solved the problem completely.
I have had some luck. My grandmother had type 1 diabetes and my mom was familiar with the symptoms of high and low glucose. She recognized my diabetes early and took me to the local hospital before I had any real problems. Mom also knew how to care for someone with type 1 diabetes.
I have lived an active life. I weigh 190 lbs and am 5’11” tall. I have no issues with blood pressure or cholesterol.
I was a skier most of my life but broke my femur skiing on Mission Ridge in 2002 and was out of work for three months as I recovered. I am still paying off the debt I incurred to keep my shop open while I was layed up.
I had back surgery earlier this year, probably the result of lifting heavy transmissions every day. Paying the deductibles and the co-pay for both the hospital and the surgery have put me further behind.
Still, I have lived almost 57 years with type 1 diabetes and have had minimal problems. That is something to be celebrated. I have also lived long enough to meet my granddaughters and enjoy my family.
Nonetheless, the future is uncertain.