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A Full and Long Life, Despite Diabetes
Date:11/14/2007

It's all about attitude, say seniors first diagnosed in childhood

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Bob Cleveland may be 87 years old, but he still remembers the day he was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes -- in 1925.

"I went to the hospital at five years of age, and I thought to myself, 'OK, I'm going to die.' Because never having been to the hospital before, I just thought that's where you went to die," said Cleveland, of Syracuse, N.Y.

He didn't die. The hospital personnel just tested and confirmed that he had type 1 diabetes. But Cleveland has gone on to enjoy life to the fullest, pursuing mountain climbing and other outdoor adventures, having a rewarding career as an accountant at General Motors, and raising a family -- with his wife, Ruth, 86 -- all the while monitoring his blood sugar and taking insulin as needed each day.

"He amazes me," Ruth Cleveland said. "He's still able to take care of the yard, even drive a 32-foot motor home to Florida -- and he does it well."

People like Cleveland -- and his older brother Gerald, who is 91, and also has type 1 diabetes-- serve as a reminder on Nov. 14 , World Diabetes Day, that amid the grim statistics lies the notion that a life with diabetes can be active, healthy and without limits.

According to the World Health Organization, 3.2 million people worldwide die from diabetes each year and, if improperly managed, the illness can shorten lifespans by an average of 12 years. More than 18 million Americans have diabetes, with 95 percent developing the obesity-linked type 2 disease.

Type 1 disease usually begins in childhood and is linked to an inability of the insulin-producing cells to do their job. It typically means a lifetime of blood glucose monitoring and insulin supplementation.

Most type 1 diabetics don't let it overwhelm them, however.

"Yes, diabetes is something that you have to deal with, but it
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