Health Watch: Living with Type 1 diabetes

There are more than a million people who have Type 1 diabetes and they can expect to live at least ten years less than Americans without the disease.

In fact, there are only 90 diabetics who have lived for longer than 70 years. We talked to one who crushed that goal 15 years ago and is telling others how they can do it too.

85-year old Don Ray can't remember a life without diabetes. As a child, Don could not go to gym class. He couldn't play sports. He couldn't even play hide and seek.

"Because if you were to hide, and they can't find you and you have an insulin reaction or hypoglycemia, you might really be in trouble because they will never find you," explained Don.

He was told he wouldn't live past his 30s. But eventually, he got tired of hearing "you can't ... you can't ... you can't."

"I would go to gym class when I started school in kindergarten and first grade, and I'd sit in the chair in gym class and I'd watch these kids and I knew I could do this cause I just knew I could do this," Don continued.

Don and his dad started playing catch and that turned into twenty years of playing football and thirty years of baseball.

And he did it because ...

"He followed the rules," said Betul Hatipoglu, MD, Cleveland Clinic.

What rules? First make sure your blood sugar is in check: between 80 and 130 milligrams. If it's too low, eat some carbs, but don't forget to check while working out.

"If they are going to exercise for an hour, they have to check it in 30 minutes again to make sure they are still in the safe zone," shared Dr. Hatipoglu.

But don't take too much insulin before your meal or before your workout.

"So, if you are going to exercise after lunch, for lunch you take less insulin so it is safer for you," Dr. Hatipoglu explained.

And if you're working out after dinner, be careful as well. You don't want any overnight complications.

Dr. Hatipogul continued, "If you take care of the disease, the disease will take care of you and you can if you take care of yourself."

"I don't believe that there is anything a diabetic, a diabetic person can not do," said Don.

Especially if you listen to Don Ray!

Nowadays, there are nearly 140,000 people diagnosed with diabetes each year in the U.S. alone. But in 30 years, an expected five million Americans will be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Don retired at age 70, but he still works as a Santa Claus during the holidays.

Contributors: Keon Broadnax, Field Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.
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