Month: March 2017

My 3 AM wake up call

My 3 AM Low Blood Sugar Wake Up Call

It’s around 3 AM and I wake up out of a restless sleep.

I believe it to be my natural instinct kicking in or a guardian angel telling me to wake up and check my blood sugar. I then go to check only to find out that I’m low (40 mg/dl) and headed straight down.

My CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor) is setting off alarms with an “URGENT LOW” alert. I can now hear it echoing throughout the house. It takes me a minute to grasp what’s going on as I gather the little energy I have in me. My mind is telling me to jump right up but it takes my body a minute to catch up.

I then head to the kitchen and find a juice box, crackers, and anything I can find. I fumble to open the juice box as I’m frantic and lost. My body is trembling, I then drink the entire juice box in a matter of a few seconds. I then sit down and scarf down everything else I have, and I still feel weak and disorientated.

I look at my CGM meter and it’s not signaling upwards yet. I sit for a moment to let the sugar get absorbed and the adrenaline starts to pull away from me.

That’s when it usually hits me and I realize that this isn’t a dream. No, rather a terrifying nightmare but in the end I’m thankfully able to save myself once again. I’m frightened because I think of the “what ifs”. As I look back down at my meter my blood sugar is beginning to rise.

That’s when the mental and physical numbness starts to diminish. I feel myself again. I feel tired. I feel exhausted. But I’m alive. This is my normal, something that I’m fully acquainted with, and even after years of managing it still leaves me uneasy at times.

My 3 AM wake up call is not a normal rise and shine moment. It’s a fight to stay alive. It’s all too real. And while others may be able to sleep soundly throughout the night, I’ve been called to take on this challenge.

As I lay back down to go to sleep, I know that while this battle with Type 1 Diabetes is never fully won, I also know that I’m not the only one fighting.

Here’s to the warriors of the night.


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Taking a break from diabetes technology

Taking Breaks From The Diabetes Technology

Taking Breaks From The Diabetes Technology

By: Randall Barker

My daughter, Emma was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a little over 3 1/2 years ago. Being a diabetic myself, it was a moment that has brought us significantly closer. As she was choosing which glucometer she wanted to try out among the countless choices offered to her by the Diabetes Educator in the hospital, my mind was already working on the technological options that were out there.

Of course, Emma was also thinking about the “tech toys” as well; in fact I recall her asking if she’d get an insulin infusion pump before we even left the hospital. It was her doctor that quickly mentioned that she needed to first learn about insulin injections before moving on to the insulin infusion pump. He told her she would get an insulin pump soon, in fact she got her first pump three short months later.

Emma’s insulin pump is a device that she has seen me wear since she was an infant. The insulin pump is a device that is sometimes mistaken by people as a pager. And to be honest it’s about the size of a pager and is usually clipped to a person’s waist.

The pump houses a supply of insulin and gives the wearer a continuous dose of insulin throughout the day. I often describe it as a small IV unit since most people can relate to what an IV machine does. Emma’s choice for insulin pump was one just like mine. She chose a unit made by Medtronic. Her insulin pump was the latest version available on the market.

The pump also included a CGM or continuous glucose monitor. The CGM is another device that has been around for sometime but has recently become more accessible and readily available. The CGM is a sensor that has a small filament that is inserted just below the skin, where it sits for 3-7 days. The filament detects the levels of sugar in the sub-dermal layer of skin and by translates these levels into a blood glucose level reading. By using this device a person can get an accurate idea of how their glucose levels respond to insulin, diet, and other factors.

After just being diagnosed for a little over 3 months, my now 11 year old daughter had some of the newest and most advanced technology available at the time for diabetics. Along with having this equipment, I was watching an emerging advancement in glucose monitoring via the cloud. There was a group of software engineers that were developing code that would allow the parents to see their children’s glucose readings. They saw a need and after doing some “hacking” to the insulin pump, developed glucose monitoring via the cloud. It was a group that would become know as NightScout.

This idea intrigued and frightened me at the same time. I applauded the idea of being able to see my daughter’s glucose reading anytime. Yet, I was scared to attempt the “hacking” on her pump. I decided that instead of testing it out on her pump I would try it on my pump. Ultimately I was successful, but that led me to a new concern.

Was the gear that was required to “hack” my daughter’s pump and then the added responsibility of the end result really necessary? I decided at that time it wasn’t. Emma was still young in terms of her diabetes diagnosis. I wanted her to develop and be involved in decisions that affected her. With that in mind, we decided at that time cloud monitoring wasn’t for us.

Time continued on, as well as advancements in technology. Some of the medical equipment we used changed and some stayed the same. One such instance was with another CGM that was manufactured by another company other than the one we used.

Taking breaks from the Diabetes Technology

It was called Dexcom and the new system was called the G5. It was the latest at the time and it brought new features that I was thrilled to see. The Dexcom system would not communicate to the insulin pump Emma was using, by that I mean Emma’s current CGM would automatically transmit to her pump the glucose reading it was detecting.

By doing that Emma could just pull out her pump and get a decent idea of where her glucose reading was. The Dexcom required a separate receiver to display the glucose readings. That was until the G5 series Dexcom was introduced. The G5 added Bluetooth functionality which meant now devices such as a mobile phone could be used to display the glucose reading.

Another advantage to this setup was now an app could be loaded on a separate mobile phone that could also be used to display glucose readings. Now we had a great solution to our CGM issue. Emma could see her glucose readings on her phone which just like any teenager, her phone was with her all the time!!!

And now her mother and I could see her glucose reading on our phones no matter where we were. We could be sitting across the room or across the globe. In fact I was recently on a trip in Africa and Emma was back home in Texas; I was still able to see how her glucose readings were.

I must say the medical and technology device advancements for diabetes that I have observed over the years are amazing. They have helped to improve the lives of countless diabetics and their families worldwide. Sometimes though these gadgets can create an unwanted effect.

For instance, one can rely on the tech so much that sometimes they forget the basics or fundamentals. I recall one time when my insulin pump simply stopped working. The manufacturer was great about getting me a replacement, in fact I had it the next day. Those 16 hours without the pump were very long though. I had to retrain myself how to do multiple insulin injections in order to keep from going into DKA.

Other times they can create a level of observation that one could almost compare to being watched by “big brother.” I find myself playing the role of a “helicopter parent” sometimes with Emma. By that I mean that I find myself glued to my phone sometimes following her glucose readings. When those readings start getting out of range I find myself quickly checking in on Emma, to then find out she has already taken action to correct the situation.

I have to remind myself that she needs to experience things firsthand in order to know how to react. There will come a time when Emma is out on her own and she will need the experience to help guide her with her diabetes management. Sometimes we become so “plugged in” with the gadgets that we lose sight of how things are without the technology.

These days I try to include my daughter in decisions that concern her diabetes management. She doesn’t always wear the Continuous Glucose Monitor. I understand that sometimes it does become cumbersome. She does routinely check her blood glucose by performing a finger stick so we at least have an idea of how her blood sugar levels are doing. She likes to take breaks from the CGM though. I do allow it because I want her to take responsibility and be involved in her diabetes decisions.

When it comes to insulin management once she was able to get her insulin pump she has never once looked back on it. I’m not sure she would ever want to go back to multiple daily injections. She does take the occasional injection when her infusion set malfunctions or if there is another reason why her blood sugar levels won’t drop. However, I don’t see her ever taking a break from the pump like she does with the CGM.

The technology that has emerged in diabetes care has exploded in the past decade. Having been a Type 1 for over 25 years I stand back in awe at some of the things I have seen. It’s still nice to remember the basics and to keep those familiar for when issues do arise. I can’t wait to see what new tech options are released in the upcoming years, but I never what to forget where things were when I was first diagnosed.

The technology is fantastic but the facts that one can take a break or even a step back is also great. The trick, I suppose is to never become overwhelmed by what options you have at your disposal.


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You Are Never Given More Than You Can Handle

You Are Never Given More Than You Can Handle

“You Are Never Given More Than You Can Handle”

By: Amy Payne

“You are never given more than you can handle” — I have heard this many times over my life, and it has never really stuck until this past year. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes 36 years ago at the age of 6. I never really thought much about it thanks to my amazing family who never made me feel different.

The only thoughts I had were that I would likely have horrible complications and die young from my Type1 Diabetes. Besides those thoughts, I truly did not think too much about it. I lived my life to the fullest thinking I should live a big happy life now because my future was going to be bad and short.

As time went by technology/drugs improved greatly and after living a somewhat reckless no fear life through my late teens and twenties my diabetes changed. All of a sudden I could not feel my lows/hypoglycemia anymore and my no big deal Diabetes had changed.

After a few years of trying to manage the lows with my new husband we moved to Denver, CO and went to the Barbara Davis Center. They told me I had had Type 1 Diabetes for over 25 years and had most likely avoided any major complications (except for my eyes, etc). I started crying right there in the office. Endocrinologists had stressed my whole life the importance of tight control otherwise I would have complications.

They have since changed their way of advising diabetics as they realize the old way of instilling fear of complications did more harm than good. Unfortunately being from the generation of 1980 diagnosed Type 1’s and even after being told I have bypassed most complications I still would rather be low than high and to this day feel the same, ironically it is the lows that threaten my life now.

Let’s cut to 6 years later –

The cost of Type 1 Diabetic supplies have skyrocketed (the US insured populations out-of-pocket costs for insulin increased by 89 percent from 2000 to 2010 for insulin alone) and with the 89% conservative estimate increase of my insulin alone depression entered my life.

I lost it one day at the Barbara Davis Center- United Healthcare was forcing me to change from Novolog Insulin (that I had been on for approx 10 years) to Humalog Insulin (due to their contract with the manufacturer of Humalog, not for the best interest of their clients).

I was so upset because of the forced switch and how dare they when my Diabetes was so hard to control on a strict regimen and now you are forcing me to change insulin because of your financial interest vs my health best interest, I literally had a breakdown in the Dr’s office.

This along with the never ending increasing expenses to manage my Type 1 Diabetes just to simply stay alive seemed too much to handle and the happy and strong Amy had finally broken down after 34 years of being a tough Type 1 Diabetic.

Barbara Davis was amazing and helped me with my depression (by the way Type 1’s are prone to depression due to insulin is a hormone that we inject multiple times a day, the fluctuation of our blood sugar levels makes us feel bad, loss of sleep, stress and the 24/7 never ending demand of our disease). I also have an additional theory that the blood glucose testing numerous times a day or with a CGM every three minutes along with your A1C results contribute to depression in Type 1’s.

You are judged by a number constantly –

(You are high, you are low, you are good, you are bad). It is a constant number that gives a judgement on your control of a disease that is impossible to control and I firmly believe it does a number on your psyche.

I am sure Dr’s would agree with my thesis. It was a relief to know what I was feeling was normal, and it is okay to finally say you know what this is hard, I have a lot to deal with and guess what I don’t feel that great most days!

Yes it could be worse and I could have cancer but you know what Type 1 Diabetes sucks and is really really hard to manage. It is a very misunderstood disease, being confused with Type 2 and people thinking you caused this by eating too many candy bars vs the fact that Type 1 is an autoimmune disease where my body attacked my beta insulin-producing cells in my pancreas preventing it from ever producing insulin ever again.

The misunderstanding hurts –

You hear comments like you don’t look like you have diabetes and you know you can reverse it with diet. NO, you cannot! I am good today. I am tired. I continue to be strong and continue to fight Type 1 Diabetes EVERY SINGLE DAY!

Type 1 Diabetes builds character, strength, and maturity. Every experience, every interaction, no matter how bad it might seem, has the ability to shape you, to mold you, and to help you become the person you were born to be.

And if it seems that life has given you “a lot” to handle; it is only because it knows how powerful you truly are. It wants you to discover the courage, the wisdom, and the strength that lie deep within you.

Type 1 Diabetes does not define me — it has built my strong character to handle anything!


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What It’s Like To Live With Type 1 Diabetes

What It’s Like To Live With Type 1 Diabetes

By: Valeria Guerrero

What’s it like?

It’s pricking your finger endlessly throughout the day.

It’s not being afraid of blood because you get used to seeing so much of it.

It’s no longer feeling tremor to a needle because you’ve had no choice than to be poked by them every day.

It’s being woken up countless times throughout the night to fix blood sugars that just won’t become stable.

It’s waking up feeling hung over because your sugars were high all night no matter the amount of corrections you gave yourself.

It’s not being able to eat whatever you want before carb counting and analyzing how it will affect your sugars later.

It’s having to put on a fake smile every time you have to explain to someone that type 1 and type 2 diabetes are NOT the same thing.

It’s not being able to go a single work out without stressing if you’re going to go too low, drop too fast or go high.

It’s seeing all the scars all over our tummy, arms and legs from all the site changes and pokes and just cry.

It’s people staring at you while you poke yourself and watching you like something is wrong with you.

It’s people telling you “you can’ t have that” or “should you be eating that?”

It’s people assuming you have type 2 when you say you have diabetes.

It’s watching people look at you like you’re breaking the law by having a candy.

It’s asking yourself what you did wrong because you got this disease even when they say it isn’t your fault.

It’s remembering what it was like before being diagnosed and feeling nostalgic.

It’s struggling with money and possibly going into debt because supplies are just so expensive.

Photo Credit: Josie Nicole

It’s wanting to cry whenever you hear a representative say “your insurance doesn’t cover that entirely so your out of pocket cost will be…”

It’s seeing a medical bill in the mail and getting a knot in your throat.

It’s thinking of all the money you could’ve had if you didn’t have diabetes.

It’s watching people turn their head away when you’re about to poke your finger or give yourself a shot.

It’s watching your mom walk out of the hospital room because she wasn’t able to handle watching you give yourself your first shot.

It’s worrying if you will wake up the next day because you don’t know how your sugars will be throughout the night.

It’s being terrified to think about even having babies in the future because you’re terrified there might be complications.

It’s feeling lost and in a haze when you’re going low.

It’s panicking that you don’t have a juice box around that you’re dropping too fast.

It’s waking up in the middle of the night dripping in sweat as your body is begging for sugar.

Photo Credit: Ashlyn M.

It’s not being able to go straight back to sleep after a low because you have to wait until you come back up.

It’s eating anything and everything in your fridge when you have a low sugar.

It’s avoiding anyone who is sick because you don’t want to get sick and have to deal with high blood sugars.

It’s the possibility of ending up in the hospital over a stupid cold.

It’s finding test strips everywhere you could possibly think of.

It’s looking like robotron with so many devices connected to you (CGM, pump).

It’s your pump tubing getting caught on something and tearing out and trying not to scream in pain while trying to stop the bleeding.

It’s having people ask you and assume that your CGM is a nicotine patch.

It’s people telling you to correct your blood sugars over and over when little do they know that you’ve been trying everything you could for hours.

It’s having to go to the doctor every 3 months.

It’s having to have medical insurance no matter what.

It’s having to throw out a vial of insulin that has gone bad and just thinking about the money that you just threw away.

It’s ensuring you have all your supplies anytime you plan to leave the house.

It’s the fear that it’s too much for a loved one to handle and love you for.

It’s wanting and praying that your mom will eventually try to learn more about the disease so she understands you a little bit better.

It’s wanting your loved ones to know how you feel to know how hard it is; that this isn’t easy but knowing they don’t.

It’s being in denial for years after being diagnosed because you don’t want to accept it.

It’s worrying more if you have enough money for your supplies more than buying a shirt you’ve been wanting for months.

It’s having to always have a purse with you because you have to carry your supplies with you. It’s hating the word “disability” because it makes you feel less of a person.

It’s the feeling that no one gets you because everything you feel is invisible.

It’s arguing with your dad and having to yell at him that your sugars are high and that it only makes you more irritable.

It’s arguing with your boyfriend over the stupidest things because your blood sugars are high.

 

It’s your friends getting upset with you because you tell them you can’t go out for some reason, but in reality diabetes just has you feeling like shit.

It’s putting up listening to people who think they know more than you on this disease.

It’s having to be okay with death because in reality, it’s a possibility at any given time with this disease.

It’s seeing all the people who pass away from this disease and feeling your heart drop to your stomach because you know that could be you.

It’s having people tell you “there will be a cure soon” but you just feel like soon is never soon enough.

It’s not worse than cancer but this stays with you forever.

It’s not something I would ever wish on my worst enemy.

It’s hard. Man, does it get hard.

It isn’t easy. There’s so much more to it. More than anyone could see or understand. I could go on forever. There are and have been so many times where I want to give up. Where I just want to go a day or two without the pokes. To try and feel “normal” again.

But I know I can’t. I know better. Because my life depends on it. But it has shaped me into who I am today. I thank God every day because I could’ve been one of the many children who die from a misdiagnosis. I was close to it. But I didn’t. I believe and I know I am stronger than what people believe me to be.

I have gone through hell and back. There will be rainy days. But the sun will always shine again. No matter how hard the rain may have beat down on me. But I won’t let diabetes win. 

What It's Like Living With Type 1 Diabetes

 

“With my chin up, I still stand here. Strong. I wear these scars proudly. I’m a warrior. No blood sugar nor person will tell me otherwise.”

-Valeria Guerrero, Type 1 Diabetic


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I’ve Learned To Take Control Of My Diabetes And Not Let It Control Me

I’ve Learned To Take Control Of My Diabetes And Not Let It Control Me

By: Alejandra Varela

Ever since I was seven years old I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It was not easy at the beginning, since I had no prior experience in regards to this matter, nor my parents, many changes had to be done e.g.(food habits, testing my glucose levels at least five times a day, insulin shots, to mention a few), too much to go through for such a little girl. Even though I never felt alone during this adaptation process, I always had my family, friends and teachers supporting me.

The most difficult stage was the adolescence, by the hormonal changes that affected my glucose levels and emotions. It was like a rollercoaster, hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia (my body felt tired all the time). I had to take responsibility and become conscious about my reactions to people. I learned to control my character (to think before act), and that not everybody would understand what diabetes is.

In the college years, the glucose levels were stable and the HBA1c (6.5- 7.2), but I was still injecting insulin 3 times per day and always at the same hour. Since 2014 I decided to use tandem insulin pump and it changed my life. I can wake up late not worrying about insulin and food schedules, the basal doses are more accurate to my needs, the hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia decreased.

Being a diabetic is a challenge, you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle, is a fight against yourself (trying to keep controlled the glucose levels or eat all the carbs that you want knowing the consequences), is depending on insulin to stay alive, is carrying always glucose and a glucometer on your purse, is to have blood tests (HBA1C, cholesterol, T3, T4, etc.) at least twice per year.

Diabetes taught me to be more sensitive, to know the fragility of human being and that life is borrowed. Sometimes I wish I did not have diabetes, but I cannot change it. I just must accept this and do everything possible to control the disease. The most complicated thing was to change my negative thoughts and my low self-esteem. I do not consider myself sick (everything functions well, except the pancreas Beta cells), I am complete, but I depend on insulin to live.

If you are getting through a difficult time, do not be discouraged. Diabetes is not the end of your world, it is an opportunity to find your inner strength. I know that there are many things to worry about (what would happen if my glucose levels go high or too low? what if I do not get enough medications? etc.), just focus in the present and change whatever is necessary.


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Cherise Diabetes Handbag By Myabetic

Most recently I kindly received one the newest products by Myabetic called the Cherise Diabetes handbag. Myabetic is a fashion brand that designs wallets, cases, and purses highly suitable for managing diabetes while catering to one’s individual style.

In the past, I’ve tried a variety of different handbags from well known brands, ranging from low to high cost. But I’ve never been able to find one that suits my individual needs and lifestyle. I’ve never been able to keep myself well organized or find exactly what I need without some difficulty.

This Cherise Diabetes Handbag has been the first handbag that I not only admire for its look but for its durability and convenience. I can fit everything I need in just one purse. It has (3) separate compartments, with durable zippers, and the compartments are different sizes so I can differentiate between the locations of my items.

Cherise Diabetes Handbag
(Photo from the Myabetic website)

The shoulder strap is a HUGE plus because it can be adjusted and I never need to put the handbag down when I’m out somewhere. Whenever I need to grab glucose tabs or my blood sugar monitor, it’s easily accessible for my convenience. The purse is very compact and I feel a lot more confident and comfortable knowing I have everything I need.

The Cherise Diabetes Handbag comes in a variety of colors. I chose to go with the charcoal color because it matches everything I normally wear. But once I move in a couple months to a sunnier state, you can bet I’m going to have to get the (blush) and (paradise blue) for the beach. The handbag also comes in (black) which I think would be perfect for work.

In the handbag I carry my phone, wallet, keys, makeup, and of course my diabetes supplies and essentials. Normally in the past, I’ve had trouble finding what I need. But this handbag makes it so much easier and I don’t feel like I’m lugging around a huge suitcase everywhere I go.

Right now you can get 15% off your next purchase with code: THEDIABETICJOURNEY

I would give this handbag 5 stars because it meets all my needs and expectations. I’m happy to have found this brand and will shop from there in the future.


Disclosure: I received a free Cherise Myabetic Handbag from Myabetic in exchange for a review on the blog.  All thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog post are my own.


Diabetes Has Become My Passion In Life

Diabetes Has Become My Passion In Life

Diabetes Has Become My Passion In Life

By: Austin Fuerst

At the age of two, I was diagnosed with type one diabetes. This didn’t just mean that my life would change, but the lives of my parents, family, and friends as well. As a two-year-old, I clearly didn’t know what was going on so all the credit goes to my parents for taking care of me. My mom and dad were always wonderful with taking care of my diabetes and making sure everything was done correctly, from insulin injections, to counting my carbs.

Needless to say, I was very fortunate. My parents also taught me early on to be independent at a young age, starting off giving myself insulin injections when I turned four-years-old, and counting carbs when I turned six-years old. My parents also taught me to not hide, or to be ashamed of my diabetes. They refused to take me to the bathroom of a restaurant to take an insulin shot, and before every school year, they would have a class meeting with all the other kids and let me explain my diabetes to them; the lows, the highs, and how it all worked. That’s where my love of education comes from. My parents helped ingrain it in me at a very early age.

As I got older, diabetes became more and more of something that was a nuisance to me, with middle school being the worst stage of it. I went into the sixth grade with a new insulin pump; the Deltec Cozmo for those who remember it. It was honestly one of the best pumps I have ever had. The only problem with it was that as a sixth grader, I didn’t have the maturity to us it as it was intended.  I would bolus without checking my sugars or without even counting my carbs. This led to me lying to my parents about what my numbers were. Telling them that they were a perfect 120, when in reality it was upwards of 300.  I could only get away with that for so long because of the dreaded endocrinologist. You smile your way through that because, well, the numbers don’t lie.

When my A1c results came back I was honestly scared for my life. It came back at a 14. I was afraid my parents would be furious at me, and I was right. They weren’t furious at me for having a bad A1c, but they were angry because I had been lying to them about my numbers. That was a big wake up call for me. I realized that the number, whether good or bad, was vital and helped steer me on the path that I needed to be on. After the endocrinologist appointment, I took a break from the pump and went back on shots to bring my A1c down, and get my diabetes back under control.

Through all this time, I attended a summer camp called Camp Sweeney, which is a summer camp specifically for type one diabetics. When I was younger, I loved going just because it was fun. It wasn’t until I reached high school that I realized what the camp was all about. Sure it was fun, but they really opened my eyes to what my diabetes really was. Diabetes was a blessing and something that grew more and more to be a burning passion in my heart.

At Camp Sweeney, they taught us how to take care of ourselves in the “real world”, what was going on inside our bodies, and helped us understand what diabetes really is. They helped spark my dormant love for diabetes education. As I went through high school I became more involved and helped in programs where I was able to go to Children’s Hospital in Dallas, TX. At the hospital, I could talk to newly diagnosed families and their children about diabetes, encourage and give them hope that their life isn’t over- it just got a little more complicated.

I have always been a very active person. Up until my freshman year of college, playing lacrosse was a huge part of my life. Over the last 2 years, my passion has switched to personal fitness and working out . Throughout high school my blood sugars and A1c were always “ok”. It wasn’t until I started getting into fitness, working out and eating right that my blood sugars decided to be amazing! After about two years of working hard, eating right and working out five to seven days a week, my most recent A1c was the lowest it has been in the 19 years that I have had diabetes. My A1c was 6.5 and I couldn’t be happier with it!

Through my fitness endeavors, I felt compelled to find a way to help encourage other T1d’s that diabetes shouldn’t stop them from doing what they love and their passion. No matter if its fitness related or not. That’s when I came up with the idea of Everyday_T1d. My goal is to spread awareness, help T1d’s become more confident, and help them realize that diabetes doesn’t have to control their lives but just be kept on a leash. Diabetes can be a blessing rather than a burden, it’s all a matter of perspective.

Through all of my experiences with diabetes, it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. My passion started with music, then it was marketing, and it took me so long to figure out that it was in front of my nose the entire time. Diabetes. It makes perfect sense to do something I’m so passionate about as my career.  I’m currently going to school to receive a nutrition degree with hopes of being a registered dietician and one day, a diabetes educator. Now that I know my path, I am ecstatic to get there. To turn my passion and dream into reality. Diabetes has and always will be a part of me, and I am so blessed to have it in my life.


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In This Journey We Have Learned Gratitude

In This Journey We Have Learned Gratitude

In This Journey We Have Learned Gratitude

Written by: Shawn Nelson

December 28, 2014….that date will forever be in my head.

A few weeks before, that is when things started to change for us. It started with what I thought was anxiety when we went out to eat. Christian, who had just turned 11 at the time would be doubled over in pain after eating meals. Saying it made him “feel funny” and he couldn’t explain it. That led to extreme fear to go to restaurants because he then associated it with feeling ill.

My heart broke thinking this was his life…and to let that fear take over crushed me. Soon after Christian all of a sudden had a burst of health awareness….we found him munching on celery, making great food choices, drinking water, and eating ice…lots and lots of ice. It was non stop. And for one split second I actually thought to myself, “something seems wrong.”

But every road I turned I had a reason for why he was acting in this manner. Christian then caught a “bad cold”….one that seemed to linger. He was lethargic constantly, he couldn’t even keep his eyes open to drive to the grocery store. But he just kept telling me, “Mom, I am fine. Just tired from being sick but I am getting better.” He was then invited over to a friends house to sleep over with his twin brother. I hesitated but he insisted he felt better. They were like family to us so I let him go, knowing they would contact me if there was an issue. Maybe this would get him out of his funk?

The next morning upon picking him up, it hit me.

The door opened to the house and I knew something was horribly wrong. After not seeing him for 24 hours I really realized the symptoms such as how skinny he was, how tired he looked, and how black and sunken in his eye sockets had become.

The boys got into the car and when I asked them how the sleep over was, Christian couldn’t answer with out his words slurring into one complete mush pot. I tried talking myself out of any conclusion…he just had a sleep over. He was probably exhausted and just needed sleep. I went home to drop off his brother and told my husband we were running into the doctor. In the car on the way I called our family doctor.

It all of a sudden hit me.

He had lost a ton of weight, dark circles, eating ice non stop, sleepy, and his siblings were teasing him of not brushing his teeth and asking him if he ate Juicy Fruit gum. The RN in me took over and I told our doctor….he either has pneumonia or diabetes. In my heart I knew it was the later.

His tests at the doctor’s office confirmed it and we were in the car next driving to the nearest hospital that treated children with Type 1 diabetes. Upon getting in the car Christian was coherent and carrying on a conversation. Still a bit slurry, but still chatting. It took us about 30 minutes to drive to the hospital and by the time we got there he couldn’t walk. I ran inside searching for the triage desk. They actually gave me a mask to put on him and we were told to wait. I said, “He has diabetes, it’s not contagious” I refused the mask and was asked to wait.

The next part was a blur.

We were whisked into a bed immediately and I vaguely remember fighting to get him back there…which seemed like an eternity. I held this 11 year old body in my arms and his brother just draped himself over crying. Poor guy was so scared. Blood draws, oxygen, crash cart parked at the foot of his bed, and my poor baby was no longer talking. He was out….slipping away fast.

All I could do was stare. I went into nurse mode and needed to know every test they were doing, and every move that was being made. We soon were transferred to the PICU. My boy was breathing on his own, but I knew things were teetering on the other side. With my medical knowledge and the things they were prepping the room with…I just knew. Slowly we started to see improvements with him over the next few days. Glimmers of hope and even a smile once in awhile.

After levels returned to just about normal, and we were out of the woods of a coma or death…the education started. I was like a deer in headlights. Christian, on the other hand, was a rockstar. That boy just took everything he had in him to take control.

Fast forward to 2 years later.

He loves to go live on social media, he loves to teach. My once shy and quiet soldier has turned into a roaring lion. He tells me, “mom I don’t need to be around other kids that have T1 just to feel normal. I am normal, and this is just part of my life.”

He does have his days when being strong is just to much. And I can see it in his eyes. Those are the days when he gets really quiet and I will ask him….”Hey bud, you okay?” And all I get are tears. “I am so tired of this mom. When will there be a cure.” Together we hug and cry…and to be honest say a few curse words to let that anger out, which usually stimulates a laugh and a smile.

Deep down I know my warrior is strong, but all I want to do is take this away from him.

In this journey we have learned gratitude. Gratitude of all things around us. Life is amazing. We have gratitude for family, for our Dr on that scary night in the PICU, for our friends that ask questions before judging, our current Dr for his understanding/empowerment and education, technology (don’t know if as a mom I can live without a Dexcom), and immense gratitude for insulin.

Oh sweet insulin, thank you for keeping my son alive. And for those families out there that are fighting a chronic illness; stick together like glue. Surround yourself with nothing but positivity and people helping you to row your boat! It is true when they say you can find your heroes in your own backyard because I certainly have found mine.


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