Bob Krause celebrated his 90th birthday in May of 2011, an extraordinary fete considering that Mr. Krause was diagnosed with Type 1 (juvenile diabetes mellitus) insulin-dependent diabetes 85 years ago.
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in younger children, and has nothing to do with diet or obesity. Type 1 diabetes is thought to be caused by some type virus attacking the islets in the pancreas that produce insulin and destroying them, or possibly some environmental effect that also causes these islets to die and no longer produce insulin. Also, genetics are known to play a role in the eventual diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. A diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes always requires the injection of artificial insulin into the body or the person will die.
Insulin was discovered in 1921 by Canadian scientists Frederick Banting and John Macleod. Prior to the creation of insulin, those diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes slowly starved and eventually died. There was no insulin in the body so the intake of any foods could not be converted to feed the body. Without food, the body cannot survive.
When Krause was diagnosed all those years ago, it was his mother who began treating his condition. By the time Krause was six, though, he had taken over giving himself injections at every meal.
During the years, the paraphernalia that is used by diabetics today was not available – not the fine-needled syringes, not the blood glucose meters, not the insulin pumps, and certainly not the artificial sweeteners. Krause’s mother boiled glass syringes that had long needles. These syringes were not disposable and the points of the needles became blunt from wear. When that happened, the needles were sharpened to be used again.
Having lost one son already to juvenile diabetes, Krause’s mother was diligent with Bob’s diet. She weighed each piece of food and kept him on a strict diet.
Over the years, urine testing became available to give the person an idea of how much sugar was contained in the urine, a dicey way of regulating your blood sugar level, but that was all that was available at the time. During Krause’s lifetime, the way he tested in the early years was to boil his urine in a test tube, put a dissolvable tablet in that test tube, and the urine in the test tube would turn a different color in reaction to the tablet so Krause would have an idea of how much sugar was in his urine. Urine testing for sugar levels was not as accurate as the current blood testing for blood glucose levels that we have available today.
There are approximately 3 millions Americans living with Type 1 diabetes. It is a chronic disease, a lifetime disease. Type 1 diabetes diminishes for many diabetics their life expectancy because blood sugar levels out of control at any time can eventually lead to severe complications – heart disease, blindness, strokes, kidney damage and limb amputations.
Bob Krause has shown us that living with Type 1 diabetes over a long number of years is possible, although he has taken great care of the years to control his diabetes and not let it control him. Bob Krause stated that he “treats his body like a car and he only eats enough food to fuel the machine. To keep your diabetes under control you only eat the food you need to before you have activities to perform.” He continued by stating that, “I eat to keep me alive instead of eating all the time, or for pleasure.” His diet usually consists of a bowl of nuts and five pitted prunes for breakfast, no lunch, and has a salad with lean meat for dinner.
Krause currently has an insulin pump, and has had it since 1978. The insulin pump is attached to a person’s stomach, and the insulin is administered through the pump, with the person opting to choose the amount of insulin to be injected into their body, or by letting the newer, more modern insulin pumps determine how much insulin will be injected. Krause has stated that he chooses to use the type insulin pump that allows him to determine the amount of insulin his body will receive.
There are other people who have been honored for living so many years with Type 1 diabetes. Since 1948, 34 diabetics have received their 75 year medals.
Bob Krause has fought long and hard to keep his diabetes under control, and he has been successful for 85 years. He is an inspiration for those going down that bumpy, difficult road of managing Type 1 diabetes. He is proof that it can be done.