Caitlin: Teen Diabetes

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When were you diagnosed and with what type of diabetes?

I was diagnosed when I was 7 years old on November 13, 2004 with type one diabetes

Does diabetes define who you are?

Diabetes defiantly plays a big part of how I am but does not define me. Diabetes helps me view things differently than other people

How has diabetes affected your high school experience?

11058084_10153102591279965_4201670657302255517_nHonestly diabetes hasn’t affected my high school experience. Of course I’ve had to sit out for a little bit participating in activities while I chug back a juice box or two, but other than that it hasn’t really affected me. Although all my friends love that I had juice boxes in my locker always

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging because in my small city of Sault Ste Marie Ontario,Canada there was not any type one diabetics in my age group,let alone many type one diabetics, so I decided to turn to the internet and got loads of positive feedback.

How has getting involved in the diabetic community helped you deal with your diagnosis?

It has helped me know that I am not the only one that struggles with being a diabetic. People see you as a healthy person, then you tell them that you are diabetic they automatically assume type two; that you just have to watch what you eat and take your blood sugar. When in reality it taking your sugar at least 3 times daily, eating, taking care of lows and highs, being tired, waking up through the 11218751_10154036325144129_3438217387330541119_nnight to check your sugar. There is a lot to diabetes that doesn’t meet the eye

What is the best advice you would give to a newly diagnosed person?

I would tell them “Relax. Your life is not over. It will be tricky at the beginning but eventually it will work itself out. I’ve been diabetic for 11 years and I’m learning new things each day and I still struggle.

Keep up with new stories about Caitlin by following her blog. You can also get to know Caitlin better by liking her Facebook, twitter, and Instagram!

Kris: Type 1 Is Not Going To Hold Me Back

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1. When were you diagnosed and with what type of diabetes?

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes later than most at 25 years old in 2012. So I’m still quite new, however it already feels like a lifetime!

2. Has there been a moment in your life when you were grateful for having diabetes?

My diagnosis was devastating at first but it led to a new career that I love, living in a new city that I love, where I met my girlfriend who I love! I’m a strong believer in things happen for a reason and something good always comes from something bad in life. I’m happier with life post-diagnosis, even though I need to live with this disease for the rest of my life.

3. Why did you start blogging? 

I started blogging fresh out of hospital as I’ve always found writing a therapeutic way to get things out. I have also been fortunate enough to take part in a few research projects that were really interesting and fun to take part in so wanted to tell the world and spread awareness of taking part in research.

Online diabetes communities are huge and very active, especially on social media. I get a lot of comfort and support from people in the same position as me, but they can be anywhere in the world.

4. Has diabetes affected your ability to exercise? 

For the first year, exercise was avoided. It was just too much to deal with on top on everything else, plus my job at the time was extremely active so that keep the blood pumping.

In 2014 I climbed Kilimanjaro, which involved lots of training. Preparing for this challenge opened my eyes to the power of exercise to manage your levels. I’d always thought exercise would make things more complicated but over the long term it stabilises the fluctuations, mostly.

Occasionally, when I want to exercise and my diabetes isn’t behaving, it stops me but this is rare and is not an excuse to never exercise.

5. What is the best advice you would give to a newly diagnosed person? 

As much as this disease is a burden on your daily life and frustrating as hell, it’s a condition that can be managed. Your future is in your hands and not your doctors, unlike most other chronic conditions. You will become an expert at nutrition, maths and understanding your body. You will become more disciplined and organised. Type 1 turns ordinary people into super heroes.

My best advice is find others with type 1 and make an effort to connect with them from time to time. Type 1 can make you feel lonely so there’s nothing better for your outlook than using others in the same position to bounce off. Whether that’s online, your local hospital, charity support group or your school or work place.

6. What is your greatest accomplishment? 

I mentioned it earlier but my biggest achievement is climbing Kilimanjaro with type 1 diabetes. I never thought I could do something like this before I was diagnosed with type 1 but to do it with a condition that’s so demanding was a real achievement for me and built my confidence up a lot. Having the condition has made me more determined and I push harder with everything I do in life now. Climbing Kili hard, painful, frustrating at times, mentally and physically draining but by far the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I showed myself that type 1 is not going to hold me back.

Continue reading about Kris’s adventures and challenges with type 1 diabetes by following his blog www.diabeticbanana.org or twitter @diabeticbanana.

Ashley: A Dietitian with Diabetes

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When were you diagnosed and with what type of diabetes?

“My diagnosis is a long story. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when I was 19, but was told from the start I didn’t fit neatly into the type 1 or type 2 categories. It didn’t matter at first until I was told about the insulin pump. I realized then that our government only subsidized insulin pump consumables for people with type 1 diabetes and gestational diabetes, I kept asking to be reclassified as a type 1 but was told I was in denial about my diabetes. Like what even? Eventually I found an endo who reclassified me based on a technicality that I am insulin deficient not resistant. So that was a major win. I’m currently looking into genetic testing to see if it’s MODY.”

Has diabetes ever affected your schooling or career?

“Diabetes hasn’t affected my schooling or career but it has definitely influenced it. Going through the health care system inspired me to get into diabetes education. I was diagnosed in my second year at university doing my undergraduate degree. I went on to explore research with an honours year, became a dietitian after my master’s degree and am now further pursuing research through a PhD in diabetes education for young adults.”

Why did you start blogging?

“I started blogging as way to de-stress and unwind. I like to write my thoughts and observations down. After becoming more involved in the diabetes community through volunteering, I started to write more about diabetes. Through there I found the Diabetes Online Community. I write to share my experiences of living with diabetes because it’s such an invisible thing to live with. Diabetes affects much more than blood glucose numbers and that’s important for people to understand.”

As a dietician have you mastered controlling highs and lows?

Graduation“Being a healthcare professional doesn’t exempt me from the rollercoaster that comes with diabetes. I still guess my carbs if I’m unsure of certain foods. I’m not perfect, I’m only human! And just because I’m a dietitian, doesn’t mean I survive on salads. It surprises people to know that I’m not a big fruit eater. It’s all about moderation.”

What is the best advice you would give to a newly diagnosed person? 

“Breathe. It’s not the end of the world. You can do this. You got this. And most importantly, you don’t have to get everything perfect. You are still allowed to make mistakes.”

What is your greatest accomplishment? 

“So many things on so many levels. Some days getting out of bed would be an achievement in itself. I guess doing developing my PhD topic and being able to work on it is one of my proudest achievements. I am extremely passionate in providing each person with diabetes appropriate education and resources to better cope with diabetes. I hope that my project will help to raise awareness of the different types of diabetes and integrate the type 1 and type 2 diabetes community as a whole a little bit better in terms of providing peer support.”

Read more by Ashley by following her blog bittersweetdiagnosis.com. You can also learn more about her on twitter @Health4Diabetes. If you are interested in guest blogging, contact us on twitter or read the contact info on the “About” page. 

Rob: “Diabetes Gave Me Drive and Made Life’s Rewards Sweeter”

Rob Brown

This week we got to interview Rob, writer of Diabetic Dad Runs for our Humans of Diabetes blog. Be inspired by reading Rob’s thoughts below! 

HoD: When were you diagnosed and with what type of diabetes?

DDR: I was diagnosed with type-one diabetes in January 1991, aged 12. I’d spent weeks with a raging thirst and constant need to pee. I had a few days in hospital being monitored and trying to get my head around the news I’d need daily injections for the rest of my life. Then I was packed off home with a box of syringes, phials of insulin and a glucose monitor. I was told I’d still be able to live a normal life, even with diabetes. I took ‘normal’ to mean ordinary. And, like most 12-year-olds, I didn’t want an ordinary life; I wanted it to be extraordinary.

 HoDHow did your diagnosis affect you?

DDR: I buried my head in the sand. I spent my teens and early 20s generally doings things that are no good for anyone, let alone a diabetic. I shunned my parents’ efforts for me to meet other diabetics (no one in my family has diabetes). I ignored diabetes; I rarely tested my blood and ate what I wanted.  When I was 20, I travelled in Africa for two months and didn’t even pack my glucose monitor. Unsurprisingly, this lifestyle led to no end of highs and lows. It was dangerous and irresponsible. I shudder to think how much damage I did to my body and worry I caused my loved ones.

 HoD: How does diabetes affect your ability to exercise?  

DDR: I wish I could say it has no impact, but that wouldn’t be true. In my late 20s I quit smoking and began taking my diabetes and general health more seriously. I began going to the gym and running. At 30, I completed my first (and so far only) marathon, testing my blood and refuelling on carbs on the go. The training process involved a few hypos and a lot of trial and error in terms of sugar control, but it taught me how to manage my diabetes more effectively.

A few years ago I started doing Crossfit, which involved keeping a really close eye on sugar levels and food and insulin intake on training days. I became fitter than I’d ever been. Then injury struck: frozen shoulder, a condition diabetics are far more likely to develop than non-diabetics, probably because of an imbalance in the proteins the body needs to break down scar tissue in joints. The injury wasn’t necessarily caused by diabetes, but my recovery has been delayed by it.

I expect to return to Crossfit in the next few months, after nearly two years of recovery. During this time (apart from a six-month hiatus when the pain in my shoulder got too bad), I’ve run to keep fit (and sane). After reading about the inspirational Roddy Riddle (a truly incredible type-one) I hatched a plan: to run the Marathon des Sables, a 150-mile, six-day race across the Sahara Desert in 2018. My blog, Diabetic Dad Runs, is the story of my preparation for this race.

HoD: Has there been a moment in your life when you were grateful for having diabetes?

DDR: My initial answer was a resounding no. The ceaseless injections and blood tests, the threat of hypos and the trail of test strips I seem to leave behind me everywhere I go get me down. But then I thought about it a while. In recent years diabetes has given me the drive to push myself and get fit. Now it’s pushing me to attempt something extraordinary (if a bit nuts). I’m not sure if I would have that drive if I wasn’t diabetic.

HoD: What is the best advice you would give to a newly diagnosed person? 

DDR: Avoid carbohydrates. When I was diagnosed the advice was to eat plenty of carbs to maintain sugar levels and avoid hypos. Eating too many carbs as a diabetic is like sitting on a seesaw with an overweight child: every meal sends sugar levels soaring skyward; hefty insulin doses bring them crashing back down to earth again. And so you’re always lurching from peak and trough. Since I began a low carb diet a few years ago, my insulin dose has fallen by two thirds; hypos and highs are fewer and farther between.

The nurse who told me diabetes wouldn’t stop me from living a normal life was right. Diabetes has caused a few problems along the way (for example, the impact of fluctuating blood sugar levels on mood should not be underestimated) but it hasn’t stopped me from doing anything. If you want to do something extraordinary, diabetes shouldn’t stop you. You might have to work harder than others would to achieve your goal, but that will make the rewards even sweeter.

Follow the Diabetic Dad Runs blog by clicking here; DDR is also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Get in touch if you would like to share any thoughts on diabetes, nutrition, exercise or anything else! 

Jakob: Pursuing Dreams Despite Diabetes

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When were you diagnosed and with what type of diabetes?

When I was 16 years old I got diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

Has diabetes effected your schooling or career?

First, it has effected me negatively. I did not want to realize that this is a serious disease I constantly have to take care of. That’s why I did not do much sports, did not check my blood sugar regularly etc.

However, I still finished High School with good grades and I went to university afterwards. I studied Business Informatics and I also went on an Exchange Year in Sweden. When I was in Sweden I realized that I have to accept Diabetes as a part of my life. Only then, I can use my Diabetes to become the person I wanted to be. Generally speaking, I can only recommend everybody to spend at least a few month abroad in a different country or (even better) in a different continent. It is very mind opening and you will come home with a complete different view on life.

Jakob SchrögerHowever, when I started to accept Diabetes as a part of my life, I also started to realize that Diabetes actually helps you in many fields. It can help you to be more organized, more disciplined etc.

After Sweden, I went back to Austria and started to work on my own start-up QGo. Right now, I am working hard to get QGo successful and in my free-time I also work on my blog www.diabetesandbusiness.com

So far, I am doing well and I don’t think that Diabetes is effecting my career. In contrast, I believe that Diabetes can help me to become an extraordinary person.

Has there been a moment in your life when you were grateful for having diabetes?

That is hard to say if there is a moment when you are grateful to have a disease. I would say that there is no moment where I was happy to have Diabetes, but I am never really sad that I have it. I try to see it as an opportunity to make something great out of it! 

What is the best advice you would give to a newly diagnosed person? 

My advice is to always stay positive and optimistic. Even if you get diagnosed with a life-long disease, current treatments allow you to live an almost normal life. Moreover, if you stay positive and optimistic, you will still be able to achieve everything you want to achieve. There is always something you can be happy about!bf1b0d8365

What is your greatest accomplishment? 

My greatest accomplishment is a pitch in the national TV Show of Austria: 2 minutes, 2 million where I could successfully pitch my startup in front of investors.

Check out the link! http://www.puls4.com/video/2-minuten-2-millionen/play/2737425

Learn more about how Jakob has conquered his diabetes and created a remarkable business , QGo, by following his blog Diabetes Business. You can also follow him on twitter at  @DT1andBusiness

Molly: Staying Positive with Diabetes

Image courtesy of Greg Weintraub
Image courtesy of Greg Weintraub

When were you diagnosed and with what type of diabetes?

“I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes on Christmas Eve in 1997. I was four years old at the time.”

What is your greatest daily struggle?

“My greatest daily struggle is to maintain a positive attitude. Some people might assume that having a condition like diabetes has a largely negative impact on my lifestyle. That can be true on occasion, but over time, I’ve realized how important it is to maintain an optimistic outlook. I find it far more motivating when it comes to diabetes related and non-diabetes related issues alike. It’s easier said than done, but I accept it as a challenge that improves the quality of my life overall.”

Have you found any positives about having diabetes?

“I think the most positive aspect about having diabetes is the fact that it has brought me closer to many people. For instance, my mom is also a type 1, so our bond is made even more special. It’s also brought me closer to my dad, who does everything he can to help take care of me and my mom. Last, but certainly not least, it’s allowed me to connect with other people with diabetes in a truly unique way. Through my involvement with the College Diabetes Network and the Diabetes Online Community, I’ve heard innumerable and incredible stories that reflect the resilience of people affected by diabetes. As such, my diabetes has introduced great relationships to my life that I wouldn’t replace.”

What is the best advice you would give to a newly diagnosed person?

“The best advice I could give to a newly diagnosed person is to take everything one day at a time. Some days they will have much better control than others, and I think this is important to acknowledge. It can be tough to handle the ups and downs of diabetes, but acceptance of the lifestyle is a major component of succeeding at it.”

Do you test in public? Why or why not?

“I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t feel comfortable testing in public. I grew up with my diabetes, so it just feels natural to test and administer insulin regardless of my location. Of course, this means that I might get a few funny looks or curious questions from time to time, but I don’t mind at all because it’s another outlet through which I can be a diabetes advocate.”

What is your greatest accomplishment?

“One of my greatest accomplishments so far is earning my bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I completed my undergraduate career in three and a half years, signifying a huge achievement both professionally and emotionally. My transition to life as a college student was a big adjustment, and I was concerned about how I would handle my diabetes away from my support system at home. I quickly proved to myself that I could do anything I set my mind to and excelled at school, meeting a variety of wonderful new people and engaging in life on campus. Moreover, I was extremely lucky to find full-time employment mere weeks after graduating, which showed me that my hard work was bound to pay off.”

You can learn more about Molly by reading her interesting and creative blog posts at asweetlife or follow her on twitter @mj_asweetlife

Robin: A Story Of Strength

Robin and Gov Island2

When were you diagnosed and with what type of diabetes?

“I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when I was six. Almost thirty years ago!”

What is your greatest daily struggle?

“My greatest daily struggle… If I weren’t writing these answers for a blog on diabetes, I don’t think diabetes would even come to mind for this question. I’d probably answer along the lines of: unfriendly co-workers, sprinting drill exercises, filing taxes/paying bills, or being on time.”

It’s not that diabetes is easy to live with. It challenges me physically, emotionally, and psychologically on a regular basis. It’s more that I try to avoid wasting time feeling sorry for myself about it. There’s no cure for T1D (at least, not yet!), so I accept the ups and downs as a part of being who I am. By staying upbeat and healthy, I’m able to keep diabetes from becoming a negative focus in my life.”

Have you found any positives about having diabetes?

“Yes, definitely! I appreciate that diabetes has made me a more emotionally resilient, physically stronger, and overall healthier person. For more on this, you can read my article, “Thanks, Diabetes!” at https://brightlyfe.wordpress.com/2015/04/10/thanks-diabetes/”Robin and CGM2

What is the best advice you would give to a newly diagnosed person? 

“You can do it. Learn as much as you can, work closely with your medical team, reach out to your support network. Do your best, and remember to forgive yourself when things don’t always work out perfectly.”

What is your greatest accomplishment? 

“It might be the fact that I’ve achieved a lifetime of triumphs, both large and small.

It’s so common for people to express regret as they age; trying to hold onto their youth and pretending they aren’t getting older. But for me, I don’t think I will ever feel this way. I did a good job of being a young person. I learned a lot and succeeded on so many journeys. And I’m proud to be where I am now.

I look at every birthday as a badge of success, because I’ve overcome so many obstacles to get here! I’ve demonstrated incredible strength, endurance, compassion, self awareness, and motivation over the years.

So I might say that turning 34 is my greatest accomplishment so far.”

Learn more about Robin by following her on twitter @Robinrjsmith or read her posts at http://www.lyfebulb.com/blog/ . If you would like to contribute to our “Humans of Diabetes” blog please see the contact info on our “about” page.