For those who know Dr. Donald Meltzer, better to know as “Doc” to many, know he has served as the event chair for the Meltzer Foundation Invitational Golf for years. In addition to his many years of volunteering and work as an avid JDRF supporter, Dr. Meltzer has also been living with type one diabetes (T1D) for 7 decades. This January marked this milestone in his life, 70 years living with T1D. In honor of this milestone and National Volunteer week being later this month, we are spotlighting Dr. Meltzer’s story of how life with T1D has changed over the decades.
A.Donald Meltzer, MD: MY STORY
For me it began on the night of my 12th birthday, January 25, 1951, I was lying in a hospital bed with ketoacidosis and the new diagnosis of T1D. For my father, it had been a few years earlier. Diagnosed with T1D as an adult.
For my mother however, it was a nightmare. But she was up to the task. The food had to be weighed, carbohydrates calculated, insulin reactions watched for. But this was just the beginning, because 5 years later, my younger brother, Richard, was diagnosed, also at the age of 12. Management of Diabetes was much different in the 1950s and 1960s. We had no way to check our blood sugar. Management was with the use of urine glucose estimates. We could check this with a few drops of urine mixed with water and a tablet dropped in a test tube and watch the color change. (Not quite the accurate test for a blood sugar). In the late 1950s, a paper “test strip” became available to make this a little easier.
There were no disposable syringes or needles. We had a family sterilizer party every morning. The glass syringes were okay, but the metal needles often were not sharp as they needed to be, at best, 25 gauge. We had to take a mixture of long acting and shorter acting insulin. There was no such thing as A1C. Each day we hoped we were okay. There were plenty of hypoglycemic reactions in those days. The only blood sugar test was when I went to the doctor’s office for my checkups. I must admit that I was pretty lucky to have survived those times.
I was married to HARRIET in 1965, and she got my mother’s job along with me. And she managed for 49 years until her death. What a learning experience as well as a worrying experience. Somehow, she was always able to know when my sugar was low event when I had no idea. I never thought that I would be the one to survive, as my father passed away at the age of 62 from complications of his disease. In the 1970s, it was discovered that the use of ACE inhibitors were a great benefit in the prevention of diabetic kidney disease, and thankfully I was able to take advantage of this therapy. I used to travel with vials of insulin that had to be kept refrigerated.
In 1970, a young lady named LEE DUCAT entered the world of Diabetes. Her son had been diagnosed and she was dedicated to finding a way to improve his life and those others so afflicted. Her vision, along with a few others, helped me and so many others live more successful and longer lives with T1D.
The JDF now JDRF has helped develop new technologies such as the insulin pump, artificial pancreas, continuous glucose monitor, and research into many new diagnostic and therapeutic ideas. There were no insulin pens until the 1990s. And about the same time, home blood glucose checking, along with about 10 finger sticks a day, were also available. This allowed for the use of pre-meal insulin and therefor better control. When I played golf, I would check my blood sugar almost every third hole with finger sticks.
For me, the CONTINUOUS GLUCOSE MONITOR, or CGM has been a lifesaver. When my wife, Harriet, was ill and hospitalized, she made me promise to get a CGM to check my sugars. With the help of JDRF and its Advocacy program, we met with Senator Menendez of NJ and got him to sign on to approve CGM for Medicare. My present wife, Carol, has now been initiated into the life of a diabetic, along with the beeping of the glucose monitor and watching caloric intake, etc. She also watches me like a hawk, and I thank her so much.
And, finally, my brother, Richard, who has been using the insulin pump for many years, and is a much better golfer than me, is still around to celebrate the fact that with the help of JDRF, we have TOGETHER ONE HUNDRED FIFTY YEARS OF T1D.
Since the beginning, JDRF has been making changes in the lives of people living with T1D globally and right here in our back yard!
As this year is Dr. Meltzer’s 70th year since being diagnosed with T1D he is marking this milestone by matching all Sponsorships to the up to $70,000 in total dollars! All of the matched dollars will go directly to research initiatives through Fund A Cure! Thanks to the research advances funded by JDRF, children and adults like Dr. Meltzer will live longer, healthier more independent lives.
Please join us for the 35th Annual Meltzer Foundation invitation on June 7th!
For more ways to get involved click HERE