‘Control your diabetes, don’t let it control you’

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Carroll County Trustee Paula Bolen of Yuma, now 55, who is in her second four year term, knows all about what it’s like living with Type 1 diabetes (juvenile diabetes).

She’s had the disease since she was 12 years old and in the sixth grade at Clarksburg School. She is familiar with its treatment and what can happen if it goes untreated. She was diagnosed by Dr. Scott Portis, a Huntingdon doctor who practiced from Wilson Clinic.

Paula Bolen at the age of 12 when diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.

She is the daughter of the late Darrell and Alacia Breeden of Yuma. Paula is married to Rusty Bolen and they have three children, Leigh Grice, Justin Bolen and Kelli Bolen.

Paula’s  aunt, Alice Hodge of Yuma, who is now deceased, was diagnosed with the same disease when she was only five. Over the years, Paula and her mother assisted her in controlling it. No other family member has had Type I diabetes that she is aware of. Her mother did develop Type II diabetes in her later years.

Since Mrs. Breeden was older than her sister she remembered some things that helped her recognize the disease in Paula.

Paula began to lose weight and her thirst increased as did frequent trips to the bathroom which was a tell-tell sign of diabetes. Her mother was almost certain that her daughter had diabetes since she had seen the same symptoms in her sister.

Paula tried to hide her symptoms. When drinking water she would cup her hands and drink so her mother wouldn’t hear and realize what was happening. She thought if her mother didn’t know it would go away.

“My mother was wonderful,” said Paula. “She always let me handle the controlling of it. It did not alter my life in any way that I could tell while growing up.”

Paula deals with controlling her blood sugar by usually taking three shots of insulin a day. She mixes two different kinds that consists of a long acting and a short acting one. She does not have a pump.

“You have to think ahead on how to administer it because its due to your daily activities,” she said.

She uses the Freestyle Lebre 14 monitoring system that gives her the blood sugar reading anytime she wants to check it.

A sensor is applied to her upper arm with a simple stick. A device that resembles a cell phone is swiped across the sensor that gives an instant reading. Her out of pocket cost is $75 to $100 a month. Her insurance also pays a share.

“It has been a life changer,” she said. “I always keeps something sweet with her just in case my blood sugar drops.”

Carbohydrates in food greatly affect blood sugar levels.

There is now a step-up system from the one she uses which is more advanced and widely used for young children. It will send the reading to another person who is keeping a watch on the blood sugar.

When she was first diagnosed and up until she got her first home tester, she saw a specialist. At that time, an A1C test could only be done in a lab. This test shows you what your blood sugar levels are running on an average. The Freestyle Libre keeps tract of that for her.

CHECKING HER BLOOD SUGAR READING – Carroll County Trustee Paula Bolen checks the reading for her blood sugar.

She’s never been hospitalized but once due to her blood sugar getting out of control.

“I had a wisdom tooth removed, had an infection and had to be hospitalized for a couple of days,” she said. “I have never had to have assistance in dealing with controlling my diabetes. Stress, an illness and everything in life can affect your blood sugar.”

She says she has indeed been blessed.

 “I never even had a problem when I was pregnant.”

If any of her six grandchildren show any symptoms, she is able to check their blood sugar.

Controlling diabetes is a continuous effort, she says.

She believes its easier to be able to control it when diagnosed as a child rather than as an adult.

“You are are already used to dealing with when diagnosed as a youngster,” she said. “When an adult you have to make a grater change in your lifestyle.”

She has advice to anyone who has diabetes.

“You control it and don’t let it control you,”

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