Skip to main content

Type 1 By The Numbers: World Diabetes Day

November 14th is World Diabetes Day as declared by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organization. The date - November 14th each year - is a significant date in the history of the disease, it is the birthday of Frederick Banting. In 1922 Banting, and a group of scientists discovered insulin...the life-giving juice we Diabetics require.

So today, in the spirit of World Diabetes Day and Diabetes Awareness Month, I want to share my story of advocacy, specifically my role as part of the Diabetes Online Community (aka "DOC").

I experienced a period of time during college where I was extremely overwhelmed. I was learning to be a rocket scientist, stressed beyond belief about college, low on sleep and low on motivation to control my Diabetes. My coping strategy was basically to forget that I had the disease...I would work tirelessly until I felt "weird" and then maybe check my blood sugar or maybe just treat the low "feeling" without a blood test. I absolutely rebelled against the idea of having a disease. Looking back of course this was ridiculous, the only person I was hurting was me, and I was feeling pretty bad while doing it. The constant struggle of Diabetes was just too much for me to handle.

I'm reluctant to admit this since it is completely insane to me now, but at one point I remember thinking, "Hmmm...I haven't tested my blood sugar in a whilllleeee....". When I looked back on my meter I realized it had been almost two weeks. Go ahead and throw the stones, I wish I could go back in time and throw them at myself.

Shortly after the two weeks incident I had an endo appointment. I reluctantly showed up and offered blood for the A1c test. Amazingly the nurse reported that I had a great A1c (I can't remember the exact number, probably around 7). I knew the number was not right so I told her I think she should re-check it. She seemed a little confused, "I've never had someone with such a good A1c reading ask for a repeat, haha!" The second one came back much higher (again, I can't remember the exact number, probably nearing 9). The appointment continued on with the doctor and nurse blabbing on and me sitting numb, just annoyed I had to put up with all of this judgement.

My mom sensed something was wrong and asked me to come down to her bedroom, she was acting strange. "Here, maybe it's an ok time for you to read this." She handed me the book "Sweet Invisible Body" by Lisa Roney. "Someone gave this to me a long time ago, shortly after you were diagnosed, but I didn't have the heart to let you read it then. It depressed me."

I grabbed the book and ran up to my room. I read the whole book in one night.

Finally, I had someone else to connect to.

I decided to seek out more personal stories of Type 1 Diabetics by turning to the internet, and there I found the DOC. Literally, the DOC saved me from a really deep Diabetes-induced pit. I initially found Kerri's blog, and then others, and then I met some of the bloggers I found online. And every time it was like we had been best friends all along. These people got me. They understood, even better than my mom could, how much these interpersonal Diabetes relationships mattered. I never needed to feel alone ever again.

And now, I have my own blog, a place to spread awareness (about Diabetes, space and wiener dogs ;-) and inspire others with the disease to dive right in. I truly believe writing about my own experiences and reading about others with similar struggles is extremely powerful.

Happy World Diabetes Day!! (is that an oxymoron?)

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The road to curing Type 1 Diabetes

From the moment of diagnosis, the road is rough, the learning curve is steep and the stakes are literally life or death. The map is less-than-helpful - paths originating from virtually every corner, coalescing at a center point (aka "diagnosis") and bursting back outwards - some paths cross and wrap around each other but others are isolated. And even with all of these roads, most of the territory is uncharted - how did we all get here and how will we all exit? Where are the obstacles we haven't found yet? Which passage holds the key to unlocking the solution? On any given day I feel pretty isolated with this disease - I'm the only T1D in my group at work, the only one in mission control, the only one in my family. I go through the logistics of calling insurance companies, ordering supplies, changing sites and troubleshooting malfunctions mostly on my own. Even those pesky carbs really only get counted in my brain, no group think for a meal bolus here. But there i

Hot OJT

Last week I had the chance to mentor a newly certified ADCO trainee - the NASA process is called "Hot On-The-Job-Training", or Hot OJT. What makes it "hot" you ask? Well, essentially I am hands off - he is sitting at the console, working all the plan reviews and updates, making calls to other flight controllers and to the flight director, reacting to anomalies and preparing material for the shift handover. My job is to act as the fault tolerance - a backup ADCO of sorts. Tuesday was his last official day and by Wednesday morning he was in the backroom sending commands to ISS in preparation for the docking of a three-person Soyuz. Controlling ISS during the 61S Soyuz docking! The beauty of this system is the gradual buildup in responsibility. There is a subtle shift from student, to subject matter expert, to fresh operations trainee to advanced trainee and finally to certification and real-time operations flight controller - the process takes two years

The Diabetes Transportation System DTS-T1

I was looking forward to the Space Shuttle launch on Monday, then it was pushed to Wednesday and now it is scheduled for Thursday due to several electrical issues from a main engine computer controller. Ironically, our little MH-47G (due to start testing on Monday originally) has been having it's own issues and it is still unclear exactly when we will start testing. And all of this uncertainty, schedule changes, and issue-working reminds me of my little friend Diabetes [come on, you knew that was coming :-)]. Even with hard work, super awesome bolusing skills [ check out Holly's blog today, the number crunching is very impressive] and constant blood sugar checks, Diabetes can still be unpredictable, necessitate schedule changes, and cause the carrier to work through the issues. I have been lucky today, even after a late-night cocktail last night, I woke up this morning at 112, and before lunch I was an amazing 113. I love being steady like that, cruising along with hardly an
01 09 10