The Year That Changed My Life - Carolina Country

The Year That Changed My Life

Living and learning with diabetes

By Lucy Buchanan

The Year That Changed My Life
From my 1970 stay in the hospital.

In July of 1969, prior to my 14th birthday, I came down with a severe case of mumps — not something I wanted during summer vacation. I later learned that the mumps virus can be a precursor to diabetes.

In October, while attending a slumber party, I needed multiple trips to the bathroom during the night. I didn't think much about it until the need for frequent trips to the bathroom became an everyday occurrence, in addition to an incessant thirst, dry mouth, excessive hunger and loss of weight. I had heard my mother tell stories about her mother's diabetes, the steel needles that were thick and had to be sharpened, the syringes that had to be boiled, and how she gave daily shots to her mother. Had I inherited diabetes?

I referenced my 9th grade health book (no Internet back then), and there in black and white was the answer: I had Type 1, insulin-dependent diabetes and would depend on shots for the rest of my life. Ugh.

I tried hiding this from my mother, but after I dropped from 90 to 70 pounds, she knew something was wrong. In January 1970, I was officially diagnosed.

Off to the hospital I went for 10 days to learn about diabetes, food exchanges and how to give myself shots. My daily routine became three shots a day and an archaic way of testing sugar levels by dropping a tablet in a test tube of urine, then waiting for a color change. A color of yellow meant no sugar spilled into my urine; dark blue meant a lot of sugar — probably 250-plus — which was a bad thing, but with no number associated with the sugar level.


My pump and Continuous Glucose Monitor. These two items are my life, and I am so happy to have them.

Thank goodness for the advancements in diabetes treatment and technology over the years. It just keeps improving! I went on an insulin pump in 2001 and started my first Continuous Glucose Monitor sensor in June 2014. Diabetes has never kept me from doing anything I've wanted to do. All these years I have educated myself on diabetes and followed my doctors' instructions, and after 45 years, I am fortunate to have only mild retinopathy.

The components for controlling diabetes? Knowledge and exercise.

I love sharing my diabetes journey with others, and it has been so rewarding to me to help others improve their journey.

About the Author

lucy-buchananLucy Buchanan lives in Indian Trail and is a member of Union Power Cooperative. You can reach her by e-mail at:

Comments (4)

  • Read your story in the Carolina Country. I have had diabetes four years, but not bad, i just take pills for it. I can't seam to keep on a good diet for it, you can eat things that good for your diabetes and bad for something else. I don't know what to eat.I just wanted to share this with you. Hang in there, you seem to be doing good. Allen Lynch By the way I live in Lincolnton, N.C.

    allen lynch |
    September 28, 2014 |

  • I have known Lucy since October 2002. She was very instrumental in changing my life as a Type II diabetic. I am so proud of her sharing her story to the rest of the world so they too can learn you do have a life even with having diabetes.

    Mike Stokes |
    September 30, 2014 |

  • Allen, the best thing I did was to get with a group that meets monthly to help you with understanding being a diabetic. The key is to get with a good nutritionist and follow the plan they give you. This is a link to a good guide to follow that may help you out: ...take care

    Mike Stokes

    Mike Stokes |
    September 30, 2014 |

  • Thank You. I will try to find a group to attend.

    allen lynch |
    October 01, 2014 |

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