After the doctor came in and said to my mom, “Its diabetes”, I thought to myself, he’ll just prescribe me something and I’ll be on my way and I’ll be cured in no time, like the flu. Once I realized that this wasn’t going away, ever, I cried because I knew I would have to drink diet soda for the rest of my life.
Then it really began to sink in that it was much more than that and my life would never be as it used to, in every aspect. I was the first person in my family to be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, but not the last, my mother was diagnosed 11 years later in 2003. I, like a lot of people, went through the denial stage. When I hit my college years, I cared about my diabetes as much as I cared about keeping my dorm room clean, in other words, I didn’t really give it a second thought. I gave myself the bare minimum shots of my long acting insulin, but would often forget, voluntarily and involuntarily, to bolus for my meals. At the time I wasn’t seeing a doctor, most of my friends had no idea that I was diabetic, and my parents were several hours away, so I had no one to answer to.
Immediately after graduating college, I moved to Des Moines, Iowa. I began to see an endocrinologist at Mercy Medical Center. I learned to count carbohydrates and learned that checking my blood sugar more frequently was critical to taking better care of myself. It wasn’t easy, in fact, during that time I still managed a few trips to the ER and a car accident due to hypoglycemic episodes. Of course, my doctor became very concerned and began to discuss pumping with me. At first, I said “No way! I have to think about diabetes way too much already, now you want me to wear something that is a 24/7 reminder and people will see it, they’ll ask questions, they’ll know”. I talked to my husband about it and he said to go for it and just give it a try, so I did and it’s the best thing I’ve done for my diabetes management. It requires constant tweaking but once you get a general idea of what your patterns are, it makes life so much simpler.
I also use a Continuous Glucose Monitoring System that transmits my blood sugar to my insulin pump every 5 minutes. While it’s not 100% accurate it gives me an idea of where I am and what my blood sugar is trending. I am still required to do finger sticks and manually enter my meal information to bolus, but what a difference it has all made in my management.
I had a very successful pregnancy and gave birth to my daughter in 2004. My control was so tight that my A1C after I gave birth was below 5.0. I have participated in RAGBRAI®, The (Des Moines) Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, for the past several years. It is an annual seven-day bicycle ride across the state. I recently rode my bike in the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure, which involved raising $500 and cycling 100 miles.
I currently have a blood glucose meter mounted to my bike and it’s the most important piece of equipment on my bike, ok maybe the pedals and the seat are a little bit more important, but you get the idea. I take great inspiration from the members of Team Type 1. I want to be an inspiration to people with diabetes, even if it’s just one person and prove to them that they are capable of doing anything.
My next goals are to participate in the Race for the Cure, a Sprint Triathlon and volunteer at Hertko Hollow, a camp in Iowa for children with diabetes. I used to shy away from events like this as I didn’t want anyone to know I was diabetic. Now, I am proud to wear a purple insulin pump, proud to be part of these events and proud to be recognized as a participant living with the disease. I talk openly with people about my disease and they are so intrigued by it and admire me for being able to live such a fulfilling life with it.