Sunday, July 15, 2012

What is it like ...

To be an adult with Type 1 Diabetes

Over the past few days I have posted several interviews on what it is like to be an adult with Type 1 Diabetes. Tonight I continue that series with Emily. Emily is a 30 year old school teacher who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes since she was almost 7 years old.

I hope you enjoy her thoughts as much as I do.

Q: Your first name:
A: Emily

Q: How old are you and when were you diagnosed?
A: 30. I was diagnosed 2 weeks before my 7th birthday

Q: For the management of your Type 1 Diabetes are you on an insulin pump (If on pump which one) or multiple daily injections?
A:  Pump - Animas 2020 (needs to be upgraded, but I can't decide on a new one and I REALLY want the Vibe!)

Q: What made you choose this method for management?
A:  Having Organic Chemistry lab on Friday afternoons. I was not getting out of lab until after my normal dinnertime and needed to have flexibility with meal schedules. I have taken a couple of pump breaks, but return every time to the pump for the ease of bolusing in public. I am a high school math teacher and I can easily bolus while teaching without my students noticing. I also have flexibility to change my basal rate based on the activity level of the day and fluctuations in hormones.

Q: How comfortable are you with managing your diabetes?
A:  I am extremely comfortable with managing my diabetes. I have been living with it for over 23 years so it is just part of me. I don't remember life without it and the little details that come with managing it.

Q: What has changed the most in regards to diabetes management since you were diagnosed?
A:  It is more like what hasn't changed for me. As a 23 year veteran, I have watched a lot of changes occur in the management of the disease.

The one that still amazes me is knowing what my blood sugar is every 5 minutes (I use a DexCom) as opposed to going to the lab every 2-4days to get a fasting blood sugar drawn when I was diagnosed. I got a home blood testing machine about a year into the diagnosis. We tested once a day (first thing in the morning). My first trip to the endo about 4 years after my diagnosis, had me blood testing before breakfast, dinner and bedtime snack. Occasionally, Mom would come in and blood test me at lunch when we were doing standardized testing or if we had changed an insulin dosage. 2 years ago, I started using the DexCom after it was determined that I was hypounaware and had 2 trips to the ER in less than 2 days.

When I was diagnosed, I was injecting NPH once a day. It was a big deal when I went to 2 shots a day about a year in. I learned about the sliding scale when I saw an endo for the first time at age 11. For the last 10 years, I have worn an insulin pump, which constantly delivers insulin.

When I was diagnosed, I was told that I would NEVER be able to eat sugar again. I started experimenting with carb counting when I started college. I didn't have a choice with "mystery meat" that was occasionally served on Sunday nights!

Q: What does a typical day look like in your household in regards to diabetes management?
 A: There is no typical day. I change my infusion set every 3 days (unless there is a problem with it). I change my DexCom site every 7 days. I try to actually eat something 3 times a day (not always possible between my schedule & being very insulin resistant first thing in the morning). I blood test about 10-14 times a day. I have no issues blood testing while teaching (in fact, I think my students expect it). I have had to tell students that they have to come up to have their question answered as I am downing 8oz of juice treating a low while teaching. On school days, I don't do extra exercise as my pedometer has that I average about 15miles a day. On the off days, I try to walk around the neighborhood a couple of times.

Q: What does a typical day’s diet look like?
A:  My typical diet... no such thing!

Breakfast is usually a granola bar during 2nd period (as I can't eat breakfast before 10am without having issues... oh, and kids come in the building at 6:30!). Lunch is usually leftovers from dinner the night before or some yogurt & crackers or nothing (b/c some emergency has come up that I need to take care of OR I have to photocopy during my 25 minute lunch). Dinner is something that I have cooked during the weekend, grabbed on the way home, or a frozen dinner. I have to have carbs with dinner or I wind up crashing in the middle of the night.

Q: While searching for a cure what other 1 thing would you like to see researchers working towards and why?
A:  I'm odd. I don't want a cure. I would not be who I am today without having been diagnosed as a diabetic all of those years ago.... As for current research, it would be nice if there was a way for the body to digest an "enzyme" off of the insulin so you could inject in however much, but never go low.

Q: What tips or advice would you give to a newly diagnosed Type 1 Diabetic children/teen/adult?
A:  Don't let it stop you from doing anything! You can do this AND still do whatever you were dreaming of before your diagnosis! There are plenty of us who have been where you are who are ready to help catch you as you figure this out.

Q: What is your favorite thing about the Diabetes Online Community and why?
A:  The way we support each other. If we're having a rough day, all of us know exactly what to say to each other to support and help the other people.

We are intertwined by an invisible thread that no one else can see. I am a teacher and nothing makes my day more than for one of my T1 kids to answer "How are you doing?" honestly and completely knowing that I "get it" and have been where they are.

Q: What is your least favorite thing about the Diabetes Online Community and why?
A:  I have three things equally that bother me about the DOC. 

The first is parents posting "We need a cure." You get to go on and have a life once your child moves out of the house. We never get to get away from it. I hate it that some people think that we need to be fixed. I'm fine just the way that God made me.

The second one is the blue candles that appear when someone with T1 dies. I spend my time celebrating the fact that I am alive!

The third one is the drama that comes up in chat groups. Each of us deals with the diagnosis and daily struggles differently. It amazes me how people can fight over if someone should be checked in the middle of the night or not. There is no right or wrong answer to some of these questions. It is what makes you comfortable as the diabetic, child, parent, etc.

Q: What What 1 thing would you like to see discussed in the Diabetes Online Community that is not discussed enough
A:  I belong to several online groups. Some of which I have started and some of which I was added to. Between all of them, there is not one that isn't able to answer the questions that I have. One of my favorites is one that I co-founded which caters to T1s and their spouses/significant others. We have no trouble discussing or venting on any topic. I have one that I was asked to join that is only for T1 females. It contains females from age 11 through 80s who are all about supporting each other with our daily struggles.

I want to thank Emily for helping me with the segment on adults with Type 1 Diabetes. I hope you can relate with her thoughts and experiences. More still to come

1 comment:

Richard said...

Hi Emily, you are a long term type 1 diabetic and you are doing well. That is great! I was also a math teacher for many years, at a community college.

My diagnosis was in 1945, when I was 6. Now, after 66 years with type 1, I am very healthy. You have not let your diabetes interfere with your goals in your life, and I haven't either.

I really like your enthusiasm and the way you are leading your life.
Keep up the good work!!

Richard Vaughn