Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood on June 05, 2012


WebMD Medical Reference in collaboration with The Cleveland Clinic.

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Video Transcript

: Got the water on? Yeah, the water's on!

Narrator: Newlyweds Melissa and Tim Falkner are living the good life. But that wasn't always the case. Melissa is a type one diabetic who suffered seizures when her blood sugars crashed.

Tim Falkner: Her teeth would be grinding closed, clamped shut, and I would have to pour a little bit of syrup in there, pour in whatever I could get in there, juice, whatever it was, and then just kind of watch her shake and shake and shake.

Narrator: Helping Melissa through the seizures was only part of the trauma.

Tim Falkner: Really the worst thing about the seizure was that it would take her days to recover from it. Memory wouldn't be the same. She'd miss days from work and I would have to stay home and make sure she was eating ok, just taking care of it.

Melissa Falkner: Depending on how fast you catch the seizure depends on how much memory I'm going to have left over. So sometimes I could lose an entire week of memory or just a couple of hours before.

Tim Falkner: At a certain point two summers ago I'd had enough. You either need to start taking this seriously or I can't, I can't continue doing this. That was when she luckily got some good insurance, everything kicked in, she got the pump and we haven't had a seizure since.

: Tap tap tap tap.

Narrator: The pump that Melissa uses implants a small tube just under the skin which delivers a steady dose of insulin. That's usually the job of the pancreas. But in type one diabetics, the immune system attacks the pancreas, stopping it from producing the insulin the body's cells need to absorb nutrients.

Melissa Falkner: The pump is more like your pancreas, cause your pancreas right now is putting out little bits of insulin every hour. Then if you eat something it's going to ramp it up and put a whole bunch in there, so it still stays in this nice, even keel.

: Forty eight plus twenty two...

Narrator: Melissa manually enters the carb counts for the food she eats into the pump before each meal. Here she's looking up tomato soup and pasta salad. After entering them into the pump's monitor, the device adds the appropriate dose of insulin her body needs to absorb those nutrients without a blood sugar spike.

Melissa Falkner: Put a glass of wine in there.

Narrator: It's been two years since Melissa got her pump. Her blood sugars are steady. She's using less insulin than she did with shots, and most importantly, she's seizure free.

Tim Falkner: I thought there were 8 right? For a beer and wine, it's 8 carbs?

Melissa Falkner: Beer is more carbs actually.

Melissa Falkner: When I first got diabetes, they were like in ten years this will be cured. So I kind of lived my life that way, thinking ok it's going to be a good 20 before I have any complications anyway. I can pretty much live however I want to because they'll cure it and I'll be fine. I'm going to beat this whole thing, beat it at its own game. That stupid cure still hasn't come around and I've had it for a good twenty years now.

: What's my total?

Melissa Falkner: Don't sit there and wait for a cure. Take care of yourself because you can actually live a long, healthy life with this disease, which is a lot better than most diseases people get. It puts you to the test, but if you stay focused, you'll live fine.

Narrator: For WebMD, I'm Sandee LaMotte.