34 Years Later: Reflecting on Faith and Support

WRITTEN BY: Robb Barth

As I look back over the past 34 (out of 40!) years with Type 1, my successes and failures have two things in common: my faith in God and the support group around me. The people around me have always been so much more supportive than I initially realized.

My family knows diabetes well: my grandfather, two cousins (one on each side), and two distant cousins all have Type 1. After September 12, 1983 — the day my life changed forever — my dad worked to afford the supplies I needed and helped take care of me at home. My mom took me out of class every day to check my blood glucose and inject my insulin until I was able to do it myself. My younger brother was always there to push my buttons and today he’s made me stronger even though he doesn’t know it. My baby sister has been through enough of her own, yet still tells me all the time how much I inspire her. What she doesn’t know is it’s really the other way around: I strive to fight harder so I can be there for her.

Now, my wife and kids are no doubt my closest supporters. They love me at a blood sugar of 350 mg/dl (20 mmol/L) and at 45 mg/dl (2.5 mmol/L). But most of all, when I am rude and inconsiderate during a low, or snippy and short tempered during a high, they love me unconditionally. My boys enjoy watching me check my blood glucose and ask why I eat healthy foods and exercise. It gives me the opportunity to show them how I have to live and why I want them to be healthy, too. They love to bring me candy and they call it, “Daddy’s blood sugar tax.”

At work, I have a crew of shipbuilders working for me that I honestly don’t praise enough. They know me so well that they can tell any time if my blood sugar levels are good or bad. I truly appreciate it when one of my guys texts me at home just to see if I’m doing better after a stressful day with my numbers. I respect them beyond measure and know the feeling is mutual.

My faith is the most important part of my story. Without faith, I have no idea where I would be. I am far from perfect. As a Christian, I believe the power of prayer is huge! Living this life with Type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, and gastroparesis, I thank God every morning that I wake up for this special life.

In today’s technology age, I have a support group larger than I ever imagined, filled with people with Type 1 from all over the world. For the longest time, I just lived in my own world and didn’t make a big deal of living with diabetes. I realized that diabetes is part of who I am. The amount of encouragement I can offer and am able to receive from others is amazing and only adds to the support group I’ve had for that last 34 years.

Stay strong and keep fighting, is my advice.

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Robb Barth

Robb Barth lives in Newport News, Virginia. He is 40 years old and has been living with Type 1 for 34 years. Robb is a production foreman responsible for building the ship structures for the United States Navy at Newport News Shipbuilding. His faith and support system have been the key to overcoming the daily struggles of T1D to live life the fullest.