Name: Steven Renner
Age at diagnosis: 13
Involvement with JDRF: Mentor, Adult Type 1 Diabetes Initiative volunteer
What is an obstacle you’ve faced in living with T1D, and how did you deal with it?
One obstacle is traveling, both by auto and by airlines. In auto, whether you’re driving or in the passenger seat, by not performing daily tasks or having some kind of exercise, your blood sugar rises. I’ve learned by experimenting with a temporary bolus, how much to increase a certain percentage to maintain a lower or a more controlled blood sugar. Airline travel with a pump is fairly convenient. I show security my insulin pump before I go through, and they know what it is, but they still have to do some security checks. It’s just a matter of making adjustments to fit the situation, and being open-minded and being able to take control for yourself.
What’s one way T1D has made you a better person?
I’m very thankful that I have diabetes. I have some control over this disease. Other people with other diseases do not have any control, so I’m very fortunate that way. I’ve learned about being able to adapt to the situation and take control of it, and not allow it to dominate my life or control my life.
What do you wish someone had told you when you were first diagnosed?
That it is going to be more complicated than I could imagine. I was diagnosed at the age of 13, and diabetes meant nothing to me at that age. I knew nothing about it. The new tools of today that will make it even easier in the future will help dramatically, not only for me but for younger and older people.
Have you encountered any misconceptions about T1D? If so, how did you respond?
I was in junior high school, and was out of school for a month when I was diagnosed. When I went back to school, I was asked if it was contagious. Other people would say, “I’m sorry, you can’t eat this cookie, you’re diabetic.” I can have mashed potatoes, gravy, pizza, I can have everything that someone else can have, but in moderation.
Who has been your biggest supporter in managing your T1D?
My wife. She knows that I need assistance before my brain tells me that I need something. She is a very big help, and is always looking for new recipes that are good for people with diabetes.
After reaching the 50-year milestone, it’s safe to say you’re an expert in managing T1D. Do you have any tips for people that want to get better control of their health?
Eat healthy. Exercise. And check your blood sugar. I could sit down and eat and eat; I could weigh 285 pounds if I chose to but I didn’t. I chose to exercise and eat healthy. Those three things: food, exercise and blood sugars are three things that I would emphasize to any other person with diabetes.