Patrick with his wife, Sara, and daughter, Charlotte.
The United States has the highest prevalence of diabetes among developed nations. As of 2015, 30.3 million Americans (9.4% of the population) had diabetes. Of those living with the disease, 7.2 million were undiagnosed.
Rather than continue to bombard you with facts and figures, Outcome Health is using this year’s National Diabetes Alert day to put a name and a face behind this highly diagnosed disease and its impact on one’s life. Meet Patrick Cummings, Vice President of Technology Experience, who has taken the time to share a bit about his journey with diabetes.
How old were you when you were diagnosed?
I was 33 when I was diagnosed as a Type 1.
Do you have a family history of diabetes?
My father is a Type 1. He was diagnosed at 32, I was diagnosed at 33. Less than 10% of Type 1’s are diagnosed in their 30s.
What was your initial understanding of diabetes when you learned you had it?
I had grown up watching my father manage his diabetes, so when I was diagnosed I was somewhat prepared and understood what I had to do. I was on a cruise ship for my honeymoon in diabetic shock. I knew something was wrong when I lost 7 pounds while on a cruise.
What has your treatment been over the years?
I inject both long acting and short acting insulin. Recently, I’ve made the decision to move to an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor and will begin wearing the pump in the next few weeks once I complete my training on the pump.
How do you manage your diabetes on a daily basis?
I test my blood sugar in the morning, before each meal, and before bed. I take a short acting bolus before each meal, and a long acting bolus each evening, and any corrections that might be needed.
How much of a financial burden is your treatment ?
When I was first diagnosed, I had just switched employers, and my insurance had not started. Cobra had not kicked in yet and my new insurance would not start for 2 weeks. I had to cover almost $2000 that first night. It makes you realize the importance of healthcare.
Do you have any fears about diabetic complications in the future?
With the advancements in treatment over the past decade, I’m excited for what the future will bring. Each month you read about new technologies and methods for making diabetes something you can control. My new pump has an auto mode, where it moderates my insulin for me. I’m excited for the advancement of technology where oneday we will have a true artificial pancreas.
What’s one thing you want other people to know about diabetes?
Having diabetes is a long term project you need to manage. You need to take each day at a time, learn to understand your body, and understand that each day is one step closer towards progress.
The following are signs and symptoms of diabetes:
– Urinating often
– Feeling very thirsty
– Feeling very hungry – even though you’re eating
– Extreme fatigue
– Blurry vision
– Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
– Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)
– Tingling, pain or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)
To lower your risk of developing diabetes, follow these guidelines:
– Maintain a healthy weight
– Be physically active
– Manage blood pressure
– Understand your family history
– Quit smoking
And as always, seek the advice and guidance of your healthcare professional.