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Treating diabetes: How times change

Many things have changed since I was first diagnosed with diabetes in 1998. Back then, insulin came in vials and I had to take injections with a needle that definitely was not a thin gauge. The meter was a cumbersome thing, required a cringe-inducing amount of blood and took forever to give a reading. There weren't all that many oral medications for diabetics, and those that were on the market weren't the best when it came to side effects.

Over time, technology has caught up with diabetic needs. There are now lightning-fast glucose meters, insulin pens with needles so thin they are barely felt and medications that make controlling diabetes much easier than it was ten years ago. But when I think I'm all caught up with the best ways of treating diabetes, I learn something new.

The latest news in treating diabetes

A few days ago, my doctor suggested that I start taking a medication to lower my cholesterol. "Current recommendations say that those with diabetes should think about taking cholesterol-lowering medication as a preemptive measure," she said.

I already knew the wisdom of taking a baby aspirin every day and watching my blood pressure, but I never thought about my cholesterol as something else in my body that could be affected by diabetes. Though I wasn't happy about taking another medication, it was good to know that another potential threat to my health could be averted by following the recommendations.

As I walked home from the doctor's office, I thought about an old college friend of mine. Fifteen years ago, she called me in tears because her doctor had advised her against ever having children. "Your kidneys can't take it," he warned, and she immediately thought of serious complications, dialysis machines and Steel Magnolias.

Last year she gave birth to twins. She is fulfilled, happy -- and healthy.

When it comes to treating diabetes, the medical world is constantly handing us new options. It can be easy to get frustrated by the fact that a cure seems to be such a distant promise, but it is important to remember how far we have come. From faster meters to easier injections to new medications that can make living with diabetes easier, the outlook is much rosier than it used to be.

About Shannon Lee

Shannon Dauphin has lived with diabetes for more than a dozen years. When she's not playing ninja with lancets or counting carbs, she can be found traveling across the country with laptop in hand, writing about anything that strikes her fancy.

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