Tag: inspiration

Navigating type 1 diabetes and learning along the way

Navigating Type 1 Diabetes and Learning Along the Way

Navigating Type 1 Diabetes and Learning Along the Way

Monica Westley, PhD

Here is my story about our daughter Allison, and the incredible lessons she has taught us. We have always been a family of explorers and adventurers, readers of books and lovers of nature. We encouraged our kids to learn as much about the world as they could. Still, until four years ago, we like so many others, knew very little about type 1 diabetes.

Allison had been losing weight (but growing taller) thirsty (but it was hot here in SoCal) and then began to have flu symptoms. On the second day of the “flu” (DKA) we brought her to her pediatrician. I asked “Could this be high blood sugar”? The pediatrician said, “Oh its very unlikely but why don’t you go to the ER, we don’t have a way to measure that here!”

At the ER, our daughter was lying down, super sick, yet still we had to ask that she be seen several times. We waited for over 3 hours, along with those who were waiting to be seen for a common cold. Finally, in the back, the young doctor sampled her blood with the glucometer and turned to me. “Your daughter has type 1 diabetes. It’s a life long condition for which there is no cure. You will be taken by ambulance to the Children’s hospital where you will learn how to live with this.” And so began our journey.

Initially, its all a blur. You’re thinking,” Ok I think we can fix this if….”. Then you realize there is no way out of this condition, and you must move forward as a family. You start to learn all you possibly can about it and how to optimize blood sugars. For the first 2 years we checked her every night at 2am, and more if her blood sugar didn’t settle down.

Then came the advent of Nightscout, which was a group of amazing parents who hacked into the existing technology to allow the blood sugars to be visualized by parents. Quickly, Medtronic and Dexcom responded with their own “version” of Nightscout. The ability to see Allison’s blood sugars on our phones by our bedside and to be alarmed if she came out of range was invaluable. Our rattled nerves could settle a bit. Now she could go overnight with friends, and that was a freedom gained!

Then we learned about TYPEONE Grit, a low carb, high protein way of eating (WOE) endorsed by Dr. Richard Bernstein, and followed by many. Google him, he’s amazing. This WOE was not recommended by our pediatric endo or the CDE in the hospital, but it was an amazing and invaluable resource and has helped keep her blood sugars much more stable. Another win!

Finally, after she was experiencing many undiagnosable “Highs” I began to search for an answer. Allison uses the Medtronic pump, and I asked our endo to change her from the plastic cannula in the MIO quickset to the SureT needle. Their feeling was that she didn’t really need it. However, when I pressed they changed it. Almost immediately, she was in better control. Yet another win!

From all these experiences we learned, when your child has Type 1 diabetes, you MUST continually be your child’s advocate, you must be proactive, you must keep searching for new advances and ways of doing things. At times you will be exhausted, sad, maybe on your knees, but don’t lose faith! This disease will unexpectedly teach you many things.

What else did we learn? We learned that Allison has an amazing spirit! At times, diabetes dampened her spirit, but it’s ember has never gone out. Her capacity for resilience, tenacity and resourcefulness has grown stronger with every year.

What has she done since her diagnosis? Allison has been class president, homecoming queen, a runway model for JDRF, raised over $20,000 for JDRF. She has worked in a type 1 diabetes research lab at Harvard, started a Hands on Science program at a local underprivileged school and kept it going every week for 3 years, received the Presidential Service Award, National Honor Society recommended, straight As, Cum Laude Society, Peer Mentor leader, started her company Mermaid Medicine, acted in the school musical, created her column “In Someone Else’s Shoes”.

She was named “19 under 19 to watch” and completed 4 years of high school varsity sports. She currently runs the fastest mile on the track team. Allison has also recently been accepted to USC (Merit Scholar) and to Harvard. Right now she is preparing to go on a 2 week wilderness adventure off the grid in the Sierras where she will be the only person with T1D.

Pretty cool, right?

People say, “She makes it look so easy”. And she does. I do want to tell those on “the outside of diabetes” just don’t forget that behind it 24/7/365 she is walking the tightrope of blood sugars. It requires strength and grit. She is strong and most importantly, she is kind. Because of all she deals with in her own diabetes realm, her compassion muscle is very strong. She even gives those like our current US Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, who think there’s one type of diabetes, and judge those who have it, compassion.

Heres what I would share to the “newbie parents”. Be your child’s advocate. Trust your gut, you are on the front lines of this with your child. Be proactive. Never stop learning about the disease and new technology, clinical trials, and ways of eating (WOE). Find community. I formed a group called “The Sugar Mamas” we meet for lunch and keep each other sane. Keep an eye on the online community of diabetes: GLU, CGM in the Cloud, CDN and especially TYPEONEGRIT are all important networks with helpful people, many who have great ideas and inspiration. Most are going through what you are going through. Strength in numbers!

Finally, keep your dreams for your child’s success alive. Encourage them to reach. Encourage yourself to stay strong. Play the song “You’re an Overcomer” really, really loud ! Don’t forget to have fun. If one day is terrible, try again the next day. Look for a sliver of humor in the crazy diabetes things that happen. And don’t forget to pray for the day when we all wake up to the front page headline ” A Cure for Type 1 diabetes has been found”.


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It's Like I Fell Into a Deep Well

It’s Like I Fell Into a Deep Well –

It’s Like I Fell Into a Deep Well –

By: Krystal Konzal

For the first time I felt completely consumed by diabetes. It’s always been a part of me and to onlookers I have it under control. It must not be so hard, they say. She looks fine. It’s so hard I don’t even know how to tell you.

It’s like I fell into a deep well.

The water creeps up past my neck. Will I make it through this day alive? How do I get rid of these feelings? I’m strong and independent. Why do I feel so weak and longing for someone to hear me. Surrounded in darkness and pain, I feel so alone.


This is when I see a rope. I do all I can to stand on my tippy toes. Reach. A little higher. There, got it. I call this rope faith. God sent it down to remind me He is there, even if it feels I’m walking through hell, trapped in a well.

How will I ever climb out?

Muster all you can to find the beauty in life, do not be consumed by my circumstance, I say to myself. I need to climb out of this well, some knots in this rope will make it possible. I tie the first knot, that was my choice.

My husband helps me tie the next. He loves me, accepts me and is so patient with me. My angel mother, she ties the next. She listens and loves and knows the dread, she carried me through it for years. My father he ties one, because that’s what he does. My family and friends, they don’t know what I do daily to stay alive, but I know they love me. So, they tied one. My nieces and nephews look curiously at me and ask the greatest questions. They make me feel noticed. They tie knots in that rope and allow me to tie a few more because they remind me I am strong and I must show them sometimes we have to fight no matter how hard it is.

Keep going.

I find myself inching my way out of the deep well water. Suddenly the doctors, the nurses, educators and assistants they all surround the well and cheer me on. With their knowledge and supplies they give me strength. They let me know it’s possible and that they will help. I just have to climb a little higher.

Don’t let go.

Finally I see light and I’m above ground. All along life was beautiful, my circumstance, not so much. Surround yourself with support. Find it and fight for it. Climb and tie a knot whenever you can. Connect with others who can relate and they may keep you away from the well.
You may will fall in again, but this time the rope is there and the knots are formed. You must not forget, you know how to climb and life is beautiful.


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finding fulfillment in personal training

Finding Fulfillment in Personal Training

Finding Fulfillment in Personal Training

By: Jordan Lane

I’ve been a Type 1 Diabetic for 18 years. I was diagnosed at the age of 5. I guess you could say I don’t know a life without it. It took me awhile to realize well maybe this is a blessing, we all know it’s an everyday battle. But I’ve found such a great passion for life.

My father passed away unexpectedly when I was 13, I was quite devastated losing my best friend. As time went on my mother was working her self too hard owning a cleaning business. She was working at a lovely private gym and introduced me to a trainer there, being so young, super skinny, and sad. I was nervous but eventually found myself enjoying it.

My trainer was a wonderful person who taught me so much outside of just exercise. He was my role model. Over the course of 7 years with him, I fell short with 4 left knee surgeries. A lot was lost. But somewhere along the way I found hope.

My mother no longer able to work, I tried my best to get a job to bring money home for the bills, some days good some bad. I didn’t want to give up. I had too much to live for. I eventually decided I wanted to become a trainer and work in health and fitness.

One of my favorite things is helping others. And it’s amazing all what exercise and nutrition can do for you. I’ve been in the field for some time now and still am in love with it. I’ve had some great success stories and more to come.

My friends and family know me best for being positive. I try to. But behind close doors, I’m not always. I eventually spark myself up again. The past couple years I’ve really cranked down on my diabetes and it’s been going well, I still dislike lows more than anything, juice boxes and I get along well.

I’ve always enjoyed being active, from weight training to mountain biking and cycling. Currently training for the Tour de Cure! Haven’t felt my legs in awhile now haha. I’m looking forward to meeting more Type 1 Diabetics. If I can sum it all up, yes the disease is awful but nothing should stop us from going after what we want to achieve. Especially us, we’ve learned so much, gained more strength, and brought hope to a fulfillment.

Just keep it up and carry on, go do everything you want in life. Nothing should stop us. I hope we all continue to raise awareness and share our stories to inspire others. Happy glucose numbers to everyone!


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