Clayton Christensen: The Survivor
I got Type 1 diabetes at 30. It hit me in 1982 when I was a White House Fellow in Washington. I had viral pneumonia. I lost 35 pounds in six weeks. And I couldn’t see anything. Everything was blurry. I was always thirsty.
One time we visited my mom’s sister in Charlottesville. My mom is the oldest of 12 children, 9 boys. My dad drank a full 2 liters of Seven Up at dinner. My mom thought that was rude. She was upset. He was always thirsty.
I called a friend who was a doctor in Boston, and he immediately diagnosed it: “Oh, you have diabetes.” I called my wife and said, “Oh, Christine, I am so relieved I have diabetes. I thought I was going to die of cancer.”
Diabetes is a great example whereby giving the patient the tools you can manage yourself very well. It’s been 28 years. If you have too much insulin your blood sugar drops and your brain shuts down. I’ve only lost consciousness four times in all of those years. The reason is that I test my blood sugar seven times a day. If it’s too low I have a Snickers bar. If it’s high I take a shot. And sometimes I am so desperate for a Snickers bar I give myself insulin so I can have one. I figure if I live a normal life I will take about 90,000 shots.
As told to David Whelan, Forbes