Anchorage woman with Type 1 diabetes recently celebrated her 88th birthday, impressing her doctors

Updated: May. 31, 2021 at 5:49 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Anchorage resident Joyce Glidden turned 88 in April. It’s a pretty remarkable feat, considering her medical history.

Glidden was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a child in the early 1940s. Her long-time doctor, Pat Nolan, said most people diagnosed at that time are no longer alive.

“The number of people who have had Type 1 diabetes for 75 years is very low,” said Nolan, who called Glidden both “remarkable” and “unusual”. “The treatment was, compared to our standards now, very crude, but all they had at the time.”

Glidden said she accepted her diagnoses, but never let it limit her.

“I had to keep going if I wanted to keep living,” she said. “So I learned to give my own shots and take care of myself.”

Glidden got married and adopted a child. She worked for a time as a physical education instructor. She fished, bowled and cross-country skied after she was widowed and moved to Alaska.

“I bowled in two bowling teams,” she laughed. “I wasn’t good, but I bowled.”

In recent years Glidden has slowed down, but said she feels lucky to have led a full life. She added that her strong faith in God has helped her to get through. Nolan calls it her “attitude of gratitude” and said it’s helped her to not become a “victim” of her disease, but rather, a person who “happens to have diabetes”.

“I think taking good care of yourself with diabetes is very important,” Nolan said. “A lot of it has to do with genetics. A lot of it has to do with the kind of treatment they’ve received and the number of complications they develop. But it’s not a death sentence anymore. There are lots of things that can be done for people with diabetes.”

Glidden’s son Michael considers his mom an inspiration, especially for those who may be newly diagnosed.

“Diabetes can be very well managed. Mom just has never given up,” he said. “You can have a full active life if you respect diabetes, check your blood sugar regularly and take your insulin when you need to. You can do anything anybody else does.”

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