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When Maureen "Moe" Murray was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1954, she was told that she probably wouldn't live to adulthood. If she did, she wouldn't be able to get pregnant, and if by some miracle she did conceive, she would certainly miscarry. Fifty-two years later, she's a dynamo of a woman who's disproved every one of those dire predications.
Maureen recalls that when she was diagnosed, "the medical knowledge we had was terribly limited. Blood sugar swings played havoc with my emotions. I was a twelve-year-old with low self-esteem. I felt undeserving of any good and ashamed of who I was, so my first thought at the time of diagnosis was 'I deserve this disease.'"
In spite of the dearth of tools and knowledge at the time, family and friends constantly pressured her with advice on how she should be managing better, making her feel helpless and out of control. As a result, she strongly believes that the emotional repercussions of diabetes deserve as much, or more, attention as the physical consequences of diabetes.
As time passed, Maureen married a supportive man and had two healthy children. She moved from New Jersey to Florida, where she found an ally in the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI) at the University of Miami. There she became part of an interactive support group that enhanced her self-confidence, and she found "a wonderful psychologist who gently guided me to discover my self-worth and taught me how to handle anger and cope with stress."
Maureen describes her blood sugar control on multiple daily injections as erratic. "The long-acting insulin was not working in my body. No matter what I did, the insulin was doing its own thing." She knew that "the steady drip of short-acting insulin would create a better balance in my blood sugars. Before the pump, I was like a boat in a storm. I knew it would take a lot more effort to learn the pump, but once I learned it, it was clear sailing."
She adds that she tests over 17 times a day and has a treadmill and workout station in her home, a regimen to which she attributes her freedom from complications despite 52 years with diabetes.
Today, Maureen is a grandmother of two, a recipient of the Joslin Fifty-Year Medalist Award, and a proud participant in their study of people who have lived long and well with diabetes. She's also a passionate advocate for living life to the fullest.
"Diabetes has forced me to live a more meaningful life," she says. "It has helped me to become a more compassionate person and to make better choices. I feel that I have succeeded. I believe in myself and I love my life, in spite of diabetes." She has just one unfulfilled wish: "My prayer now is to be around when the cure is found."
Jun 8, 2007