Living with Type 1 Diabetes

(photo from

On the left is Teddy Ryder. Teddy was born in 1916, and in 1920, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. He was treated in the only way they knew of in that era—through a starvation diet consisting of 500-600 calories a day. This often gave the patient another 1-2 years of life, before complications from the severe calorie restriction, or the diabetes itself, caused death. Teddy was lucky, though, because in 1922 Canadian Dr. Frederick Banting treated human patients with insulin for the first time, and Teddy’s uncle was able to contact Dr. Banting to include him in the first trials. You see, the child on the right is also Teddy Ryder, and he survived. When he passed away in 1993 at the age of 76, he was the person treated the longest by insulin in the world.

November 14 is recognized as World Diabetes Day, and that date was chosen because it is the birthdate of Dr. Banting. Dr. Banting, Charles Best, J.J.R. Macleod, and James Collip were the team who initially worked on the extraction of insulin from dog, cow, and pig pancreases.

Type 1 and type 2 diabetes share a common name, but have two very different causes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that causes the destruction of cells in the pancreas that make insulin. It is thus characterized by insulin deficiency, in contrast to type 2 diabetes, in which patients often make an excess of insulin, but their body is unable to use it efficiently. There is no cure for type 1 diabetes (or any other autoimmune condition), though we now have access to medications, food choices, and technology that can make managing type 1 diabetes easier. Type 1 diabetes can develop at any age, and the move away from the term “juvenile diabetes” was done in part because half of all people with type 1 diabetes will be over age 30 at time of diagnosis.

Type 1 diabetes is no longer a death sentence, but as with any other chronic condition, has its challenges! If you have type 1 diabetes, or are the caregiver of a child with type 1 diabetes, please contact RRH’s Director of Community Outreach, Tera Moorehead, at 760-499-3825 for information about how you can participate in an upcoming type 1 focused support group.

Written by RRH Volunteer Elena Ennis, living with type 1 diabetes since 2014. T1D Strong!