Molly Johannes was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1997 at the age of four. Molly controls her diabetes with a combination of insulin shots, daily exercise, and a healthy diet. She utilizes a Dexcom continuous glucose monitor to remain aware of her blood sugars throughout her busy days at school. Molly is a sophomore English major at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Read full bio

Tales of Molly’s Diabetes Adventures in Disney

Once upon a time, a young woman named Molly was bound for the magical Disney World for a week’s worth of fun and frolicking. Her tale does not involve hallmarks like evil witches, poisonous apples, fairy godmothers, spontaneous singing, or charming woodland critters capable of human speech. Rather, it is a story about balancing diabetes while trying to make the most of a much-needed vacation with her handsome prince – erm, boyfriend.

 

We first meet Molly in the airport on a sunny Saturday afternoon. She is exhausted but elated, considering she’s mere hours away from her destination! Molly settled in for a long wait for her flight with her boyfriend and his parents. She felt somewhat defeated by a string of high blood sugars that haunted her all afternoon, but she attributed this to a build-up of stress. It’s not easy to travel when you have diabetes, you see. Molly frantically searched her bags at least a dozen times to confirm that she had any and every medical supply she might need on her trip. Despite feeling reassured about her preparedness, Molly felt a rising panic as time to board the plane drew nearer. The pit in her stomach and the yellow hyperglycemic dots on her CGM did not dissipate on an unpleasantly turbulent flight. Our heroine was very happy when her feet touched solid ground again, and once she was settled in the castle – ahem, resort – she was ready for the fun to begin.

It wasn’t easy for Molly at first. She struggled to get her sugar to return to normal after the long day of traveling, but managed to do so by the time her head hit her pillow. When she awoke from her slumber the next morning, she was pleased to see an on-target blood sugar reading. She took this as a good omen as she set off on her first adventure in Epcot.

The rides! The sights! The blazing heat! There was so much to look at and to do that it was overwhelming. Molly had a blast journeying through time on Spaceship Earth and touring countries like Germany, Norway, and Italy. And the foods she enjoyed! Molly was a little worried considering her options were limited to gargantuan burgers, crispy chicken nuggets, and greasy French fries. But she was smart and cut her carb intake by eating only half her fries and part of the buns. She had small snacks like mini 45-calorie boxes of raisins (11 grams of carbs) to keep her on track as needed, and she found herself cruising through the afternoon and evening with good blood sugars. 

The week flew by in a similar pattern for Molly. She was up by 7 most mornings and consumed smaller breakfasts of yogurt, bananas, or granola bars before embarking to the lands of Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. She stayed very active even on non-park days spent by the pool or playing shuffleboard with her boyfriend, his brother, and his brother’s wife. Molly was sure to have a meal plan in place that let her consume salads for every other meal, indulging in some scarier carb-monsters on the alternates. One of Molly’s favorite moments from the trip in terms of fun, fantasy, and food is when she stepped into her childhood and visited Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley from the universe of Harry Potter. Molly was in awe when a dragon – no correction necessary here – breathed fire upon her entrance into the cobblestoned streets of the wizarding world. Her eyes filled with tears of joy as she explored stores like Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes and Ollivander’s with her boyfriend. They ate in The Leaky Cauldron, a charming pub where she was mercifully allowed to swap French fries for a side salad to go with her chicken sandwich. The wondrous day ended with fireworks and wizard’s brew, a delightful little stout she obtained before leaving Diagon Alley.

Before she knew it, Molly’s vacation was drawing to a close. She was sad to go but excited to return home to her anxiously awaiting parents and puppy. Her purse was considerably lighter by the trip’s conclusion, but her heart was made fuller by happy memories and many laughs shared over the course of the journey. Plus, she was pleased by her careful control of her diabetes, despite the many obstacles and temptations thrown in her path. And so, Molly and her boyfriend made the trek home on their horse-drawn carriage – I mean, plane! – and they lived happily ever after.

 

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A Delay in Pumping (Going on a Disney Vacation)

A few weeks ago, I shared my excitement over starting the process to go on an insulin pump regimen. At my endocrinologist’s office, there are many steps to take before you can actually start using the pump. I crossed off the first two: an initial conversation with my endocrinologist and a consultation with my diabetes educator. The next step was to sit down with my nutritionist, which I did this past Wednesday. The appointment went well, but at its conclusion I realized that the pump will not be happening for me until December.

It was a disappointing discovery, but it makes the most sense for me at this time. I’m leaving for a much-anticipated Disney vacation in a few short days. Say I received the pump in the mail this week: what am I supposed to do, get it started a day or two before I’m set to board the plane and deal with potential major stress on my trip? No, thank you! And when I get home from Disney, I have two weeks to get ready for going back to school. It’s the same sort of deal where I would be concerned about problems arising and not being able to visit my endocrinologist in a timely manner to resolve them. So after conferring with my parents, endocrinologist, diabetes educator, and nutritionist, we agreed that I can start the pump in December. That’s when I graduate college and move back home, so my endocrinologist will be much more accessible. So for now, I’ll take a hiatus on pump talk and focus on what’s happening now: packing for Disney!

 Packing for my Disney vacation

As anyone with diabetes knows, packing for a trip is STRESSFUL. I keep thinking about how last time I went to Disney, it was for a conference for people with diabetes. That really changed the game for me because I felt more secure. This time around, I’m going with my boyfriend and his family. I’m really excited to share this experience with them, but I’m also nervous about how my diabetes might affect things.

So I’m taking as many preventive measures as possible. This means I started packing about a week ago. I handwrote a list of everything I’ll need so I can check it off as I pack it. I plan on taking double of everything to err on the side of caution. I’ll throw everything pertaining to my diabetes in a large plastic bag to show security when I go through it to make the process go smoothly. I also bought a Frio cooling wallet for my Humalog and Lantus. This neat little invention keeps insulin at safe temperatures for up to 45 hours. After that point, it needs to be topped off in cold water for 10-12 minutes to ensure it’s in working order. I thought that this purchase was wise considering how humid Florida tends to get in the summer months.

I also bought a large bottle of glucose tablets. I know I’ll be getting plenty of exercise by walking all over the theme parks, so I’ll feel better knowing I have an excess of what I need to fix any lows that might happen.

I’m going to be bringing both my Verio IQ charger and my CGM charger. I know my CGM will definitely need to be charged more than once, but my Verio typically lasts a couple weeks before it needs another recharge. However, I’d rather have it and not need it than leave it at home and need it. But here’s what I’d like to know, do other people with diabetes ever bring a spare meter with them? I’m debating whether or not this is necessary and I’d like to hear feedback.

Despite being well-prepared, I know I’ll probably have a few moments of panic where I rummage through my bags to look for something insignificant like an alcohol swab. But I also know that I’m doing all the right things to avoid diabetes problems, so I’m looking forward to making the most out of my trip.

 

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Suck-Up

Hello, my name is Molly, and I am a human vacuum cleaner. I’ve drawn this conclusion because of how I eat my food when 1) it’s been 4+ hours since I last had anything to eat and 2) my blood sugar is below 100.

I’m writing this after sucking down my lunch at my internship. My routine Monday through Thursday is wake up at 7:20 A.M., eat my breakfast around 7:30, and then spend the next hour or so getting ready for work so I can be out the door by 8:35. I typically choose to eat my lunch at my desk when at work, so this means I can take my lunch break whenever.

During the first few weeks of my internship, I waited ‘til noon or 12:30 to eat lunch because I found myself having a quick snack rather than breakfast before leaving my house in the morning. This meant I was eating around 8:30, so I could afford to wait longer for my lunch break. Of course, I would be pretty ravenous when it was time for lunch because of the meager morning meal. So this habit quickly evolved to me eating an earlier, more substantial breakfast so I wouldn’t be so starving by lunchtime.

Now I’m eating lunch a little earlier, around 11:45. I’ve noticed a couple things about this change: that the gap in between meals is longer than before, and around 11 o’clock I start to feel as though my blood sugar is dropping. When I can’t quite shake the sensation because it’s distracting me from my work, I’ll check my CGM to see what it’s reporting my number to be and the accompanying trend arrow. More often than not, I’ll be steady in the 80s or 90s range. I’ll always congratulate myself on achieving a healthy pre-lunch blood sugar, but then I’ll scratch my head and wonder why I’m having low symptoms. And it doesn’t help that those low symptoms don’t subside until halfway through my meal. I’ll chow down on a portion, and then I’ll feel more comfortable about taking my shot. But waiting the extra time to shoot up might explain why I’ll spike a little after lunch before gradually falling down to a normal level. 

So, what’s a girl to do? I like being able to consume my lunch at a normal pace instead of feeling like a high-power vacuum cleaner. Could it be that this is my body’s way of simply telling me that it’s hungry and that I should eat soon? Do I just have the symptoms of an oncoming low earlier than other people with diabetes? Is this a sign that I need to do away with my current eating habits and try eating five smaller meals per day to curb hunger? Am I going crazy? Whether the answer is yes, no, or maybe to any or all of these questions, I’m hoping I can come up with a solution soon because being a human vacuum cleaner isn’t the most attractive thing, especially when I make all the crumbs instead of sucking them up.

 

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Show Me Your Pump!

A few days ago, I was mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed (a habitual pastime of mine) when a photo reappeared once, twice, and three-plus times. At first, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to it because it was just a smiling girl wearing a bathing suit. Since it’s summer time and all, pictures like that crop up several times a week – nothing unusual.

But I started to wonder who the girl was when I saw that same picture flash on my screen multiple times throughout the day. So I did a little detective work and immediately realized that my Facebook friends who shared the photo all had one thing in common: diabetes. I examined the picture more closely and I saw what looked like an insulin pump clipped onto the girl’s swimsuit. Moreover, it looked like she was walking on some sort of stage. What is this, I thought. A diabetes beauty pageant or something?

I was close enough! Some more investigation revealed that the girl in the picture is Sierra Sandison, a.k.a. the newly crowned Miss Idaho 2014. In the swimsuit portion of the pageant, Sierra walked onstage wearing more than just her bikini. When audience members and judges saw that she was attached to a small device with tubing, they had questions as to what its function was and why she was wearing it. Sierra bravely explained that she has type-one diabetes and that it was her insulin pump. Those with a background in diabetes care and management know how important an insulin pump is. It’s not something that can simply be removed whenever it needs to be hidden, so Sierra decided to showcase it with dignity, not shame or embarrassment, in her competition for the crown.

Sierra’s admirable fearlessness caused an internet sensation. I’m a member of multiple social media websites including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Across all three, the hashtag #showmeyourpump was trending on my newsfeeds. When I clicked the hashtag, a plethora of pictures and statuses showed up featuring people with diabetes and their insulin pumps. I was scrolling through so many of them that I’m sure I only saw a sampling of the ones posted, but I could practically feel the pride each person felt when taking those pictures as I viewed them.

Not only does #showmeyourpump bring a greater sense of unity to the diabetes online community, but it spreads diabetes awareness during what I think is a critical time. Despite the many resources available today, there still seems to be a great deal of confusion among the general public when it comes to differences between type one and type two diabetes, let alone how both are treated. Sierra’s simple choice to stride out wearing her pump has generated a buzz that will help clear up some of the questions people have, as well as provide tangibility to an otherwise invisible condition.

Moreover, I think it’s wonderful that the outlet for this is a beauty pageant. Generally, the word I think of when I hear “beauty pageant” is “perfect”. To some, any sort of flaw an individual may have (whether they can help it or not) makes them less beautiful. In my opinion, and I’m sure others would agree, I think any sort of “imperfection” is what makes someone special; therefore, beautiful. So there might be some people out there who see diabetes as a flaw, something that you can’t take pride in. But Sierra, other people with diabetes, and I know that isn’t true. It’s something to embrace, something that we can use to help make the world a better place by continuing to share personal stories to offer support and knowledge to others.  

I’m grateful for Sierra and her story for symbolizing all of these things. And I may not be on the pump yet, but when I am, I can’t wait to post a picture of me wearing it without hesitation or concern that I’ll be judged for it. 

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The Never-Ending Day

I am not the kind of person to pull an all-nighter. You might scoff at that, considering I’m a college student and 21 years old. I’m not saying this means I don’t procrastinate (trust me, I do) or that I don’t have a social life that sometimes makes me stay up later than I’d like (ugh, you want to go out to the bars at what time?!). I’m merely saying that I’m a girl who likes her sleep. Actually, “cherishes” is a more accurate word than “like” in this case. So when I found out I had to wake up at 3:30 A.M. this past Monday, I wasn’t pleased about it. I was downright pissed by the end of the day when I saw the toll it took on my diabetes.

But I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. My boyfriend was shipping off to a month-long army training exercise and needed someone to bring him to the airport for an early morning flight. Truthfully, I wasn’t all that put out when he asked me to do it because it meant I could say goodbye in person.

Plus, we had everything figured out: we would spend the day before hanging out together and get to bed by 9 P.M. to ensure we’d have a decent night of sleep. Sounds simple enough, but it was far too ambitious for a couple of night owls like us. At 8 P.M. we decided it was necessary to make a run to Dairy Queen to get a couple of blizzards that we could down while we finished watching Starship Troopers, a movie we had started to watch together a few days before.

I was a smidgen concerned about the affect ice cream would have on my blood sugar, but I did my homework by checking the amount of carbohydrates in a miniature-sized “strawberry cheesequake” blizzard (47 grams! The smallest size they offer! What the heck do they put in this ice cream?!). I assumed I was reasonably prepared for my snack until I actually received it. A friend who works at Dairy Queen gave my boyfriend and I our treats for free – and doubled the sizes. I stared at the monstrosity before me and began to protest, but our friend insisted. It was (literally) a sweet gesture, but how on earth would I be able to restrain myself from eating the entire cup?

As it turns out, I have far more self-control than I thought I did. I stopped after eating only a third of the delicious treat and put the rest in the freezer. My thoughts drifted away from blood sugars as we watched our movie and passed out sometime between 10 and 11 o’clock.

A few hours later, I woke up with a full bladder that I desperately needed to relieve. Before heading to the bathroom, I glanced at my CGM and was startled to see I had climbed to the upper 200s. After checking this on my meter, I took a small bolus and assumed that my Lantus would kick in at some point and aid in the effort to get back down to a better number. I stumbled back into bed dreading the alarm that was to come a mere hour later.

Expectedly, time sped up from that point. We were awake at 3:30 and on our way to the airport by 4:15. My blood sugar remained stagnant in the 250s. At 5:55, I was making the lonely trip home after bidding farewell to Patrick. I was back at my parents’ house at 7 with a blood sugar floating in the 200s. From 7 A.M. to 10 P.M., time trudged onward slowly as I battled higher blood sugars that stubbornly stuck in the 180-220 range the entire day. Looking back on it, I’m sure I can attribute it to a combination of the stress I felt from the ordeal, the lack of sleep, and my body’s confusion at being forced to function at such an early hour. It’s another lesson learned the hard way about factors other than food, exercise, or illness coming into play concerning my blood sugars. Needless to say, I’m now in recovery mode and relishing my return to a normal night of sleep.

 

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My Transition to an Insulin Pump: Phase 1 Complete

In my blog post last week, I talked about how I’m hoping to transition to an insulin pump this summer. I know it will be a bit of an arduous process, but I’m eager to share each step of it with others in similar situations.

My Transition to an insulin pump- pretty overwhelming!

 

I don’t know how greatly the process deviates among endocrinology practices, but I assume they all follow a similar pattern. You have a regular appointment with your endocrinologist, you express your interest in using a pump, you talk it over with your doctor, and so forth. My endo was really enthusiastic about the idea and wanted me to set up an appointment with my diabetes educator pronto. So four days later, I was back in the office.

The appointment was an hour long and extremely informative. We kicked it off by testing my blood sugar. “I just want to make sure you’re not going to go low when I’m in the middle of explaining everything to you,” my educator explained. “You’d be surprised how many patients will go low, and I can tell because they don’t listen to a word I say!” A quick test told us I was safe at 149 mg/dL.

Initially, the appointment felt a little bit like a job interview. The first question she asked me was why I wanted to go on the pump. Despite being such a loaded question, I think I answered it pretty well. After a brief pause, I answered “I want to go on the pump because I want to improve my A1c. Now more than ever, I’m aware of what I do and don’t need to do when it comes to my diabetes. These days, I’m immersed in the diabetes community and I want to share the same success story that I’ve heard over and over again from other diabetics who are on the pump.”

We were both satisfied with this answer, and the appointment flowed seamlessly from there. She asked me a few more questions, and then launched into a monologue that explained the three kinds of pumps sitting on her desk. Even though I had my heart set on the OmniPod, I was still glad to hear the differences between it, the Medtronic, and the Animas Ping. It reassured me that I was choosing the device that best fit my lifestyle.

And I have to say, it was awesome to finally learn the meaning of terms like square wave bolus and basal rate. These concepts were utterly confusing to me a week ago, but now if someone were to ask me to define them, I feel confident in my ability to do so.

At the appointment’s conclusion, I was given the green light to proceed with the next step: set up an appointment with the nutritionist to get an assessment on my carb counting skills. Unfortunately, she didn’t have any open appointments until the end of July, so it looks like I’m already encountering my first speed bump on this journey. Rather than sulk about it, though, I’m going to enjoy this mini-vacation from the endocrinologist’s office. Because after driving there four times in one week, I need it.

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Transition Time…Again

I feel like word “transition” has defined my existence for the past three or so years.

At first, it was the transition from high school to college. This was marked by several sub-transitions that resulted in my greater independence and sense of responsibility. Next, the reality that I’m finishing college next semester hit and that will most certainly be another major transition in my life. And today, I realized that my next transition will be upon me in a matter of weeks as I am looking to go on an insulin pump for the first time in my life.

I’ve had diabetes for 17 years now. Over the course of that time, the technology has radically changed. As time went on and medical devices grew in number and capability, I remained staunchly in my past. I was reluctant to subject myself to the physical and mental changes associated with using these new diabetes tools – just ask my parents, they’ll tell you that I’m stubborn as a mule when it comes to this stuff. I didn’t care about the newer, sleeker, or faster models of this or that coming out at a rapid pace. I figured if what I was currently using was still in working order, then I would be, too.

But then I went on the CGM for a week-long trial period. It took some coaxing from my parents and endocrinologist, and I only gave in to appease them. And I was shocked by the outcome. The CGM completely rocked my world because I gained exposure to something I might be missing in my diabetes management. Slowly but surely, I began opening up to the idea of introducing myself to more technology.

This came to a screeching halt, though, when my mom went on the OmniPod pump. She started using it a couple weeks before a family vacation in Maine, so the timing of everything wasn’t great. She wasn’t used to it yet, so it was no wonder that she had a couple of breakdowns on our otherwise-relaxing beach getaway. Her struggles frightened me, and I asked myself, is the pump worth it? Diabetes itself takes enough of an emotional toll on me. If I didn’t need the pump, then I wouldn’t get it.

Mom’s pump experience happened a couple years ago, and she stuck with it despite her initial problems. Recently, I asked her if it really did make a difference in her A1c, and she wholeheartedly said yes, it did. Then, I couldn’t help but think about all the other people with diabetes I know: The number has increased dramatically between my affiliations with the College Diabetes Network and ASweetLife. The majority of those people use some sort of pump, and all of them seem to be doing well, if not flourishing.

With all these factors in mind, I told myself, maybe it IS worth it. I could be missing out on something that might make diabetes care significantly easier for me. You never know until you try, right? With this attitude, I went to see my endocrinologist this morning for a regular appointment. She couldn’t have been more supportive of my decision and the ball is now rolling. I will be seeing someone on the last day of June to talk about my options.

I’m excited and nervous about this change. It’s not something I take lightly; in fact, just the other day I told my mom (half-jokingly, half-seriously) that “my body is a sacred temple, I want to treat it right!” I’m hoping that the pump can help me continue to treat myself in the best possible way.

I’m looking forward to sharing this experience with anyone who reads ASweetLife. Stay tuned over the next few weeks and I’ll write updates about how the transition is going. And if you or anyone else you know has words of wisdom to share with me, I’d love to hear anything you have to say. 

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CGM Hiatus

After using a CGM for two straight years, I wondered what it would be like to take an extended break from one. I never really committed to the idea, until I had no choice. 

I’ve been CGM-free for almost two months now. I found out back in April that sensors for the Dexcom Seven are no longer available. Immediately, I thought this meant I could get a pretty new CGM (I’ve been eyeing a pink Dexcom G4 for some time now) but alas, it was not so simple. My family’s current insurance coverage won’t cover the cost of a new CGM, and it seems a bit silly to shell out copious amount of money for a device that I’ve gone without for the majority of my life.

Unfortunately, the few extra sensors I had left expired just as I learned of this news. Around my birthday, my supply was no more and I was disconnected.

At first, it was sort of liberating. It felt nice to have a break from the incessant buzzing of the machine. I didn’t have to worry about calibrating it each time I tested my blood sugar or about making sure it was fully charged. Best of all, I didn’t have to deal with it making mistakes, like telling me my blood sugar is 78 and falling rapidly when in reality it was steady at 142.

But a few weeks later, a strong sense of paranoia began to settle in, particularly at nighttime. Before, I was always comforted by the fact that my CGM would wake me up when it (correctly) sensed a low blood sugar. Of course, prior to owning a CGM I never had any major problem waking up automatically when I was low. But the CGM had fostered a sense of security that I got a little too comfortable with, and when I didn’t have it anymore, it made me anxious. So some nights before I go to sleep, I set an alarm on my phone to wake me up around 2 or 3 so I can test to make sure I’m doing okay. More often than not, this alarm isn’t even necessary and just winds up interrupting a peaceful night of sleep.

And I can’t stop dwelling on trend arrows. I find myself thinking about what my blood sugar is doing after meals; subsequently, I get nervous about whether or not my blood sugar is falling or rising rapidly. I miss having a general idea concerning what my body is doing at particular times of the day.

For now, I don’t have a choice but to continue on without my CGM. At least my time without it has made me check my blood sugar more consistently and frequently – a definite improvement. And it’s not like my diabetes management is impossible without it. So I’ll carry on, make use of the resources I do have, and be grateful for progress (and no regression).

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Would You Like Some Glucose Tablets with Your Popcorn and Soda?

I know I’ve talked about going low at my job at the movie theater before, but a couple nights ago I had a reminder of just how terribly inconvenient it can be.

My task for the evening was to go around to each cinema and ask customers if they would be willing to donate to charities that are partnered with my movie theater. It’s always nerve-wracking to speak to an auditorium full of customers anticipating a film rather than my little donation spiel, but at least the theaters are relatively dark when I make my speech. That takes a little bit of the pressure off and I can say my 30 second script with less of a quaver in my voice. Once my talk is over, I go up and down the stairs in the theater and collect any change that customers want to donate. Sounds simple enough, right? It usually is – but bear in mind that there are 15 theaters that I have to get to in a matter of an hour or so. In each individual cinema, I have a decently lengthy flight of stairs to go up and down. I’m not sure how to calculate it accurately, but I am certain of the fact that I get a fair amount of exercise when this is my responsibility.

It isn’t any wonder that halfway through the set of movies I started to feel a little off. I didn’t want to have to miss the showing of Maleficent – it just came out this weekend, and I knew there would be 150+ customers in the theater. I could get a lot of donation money that would benefit worthwhile charities. However, I also knew it would look really bad if I passed out in the middle of my speech. So I decided I should at least test my blood sugar to see if I was as low as I felt, and then I could take it from there.

It was a smart call – I was 63. For the next fifteen minutes, I found myself sitting in the water room next to cases of water and sacks of popcorn seed, waiting for my glucose tablets to kick in. I felt awful, sitting there being useless while I heard my co-workers running around and selling concessions to customers on this particularly busy Saturday night. I was aware that I was doing the best possible thing for my health in that moment, but it also really pissed me off that it happened at an inconvenient time.

But this instance again proved to me that I work with a wonderful and understanding group of people. When I re-joined everyone behind the stand, they asked me if I was doing okay and if I needed any help. Conversation from there transitioned to questions they had for me about diabetes in general, and I found myself happy to clear up confusion and help them get the facts straight. And I even had a very stimulating talk with two co-workers, Ryan and Brianna, about prospects for a cure for diabetes. I was moved by the fact that they seemed so interested in my well-being and that they genuinely wanted to learn more about diabetes itself.

It was a frustrating night at work, for sure, seeing as I had close calls with two more low blood sugars. But thanks to an endless of supply of Hi-C Fruit Punch and support from my friends, I was able to head home around 11 o’clock and go to bed with a decent blood sugar.

And much to my relief, I avoided displaying the usual awkwardness that comes with hypoglycemic symptoms in front of customers – no dizzy spells, shaking, or sweats in front of them. And I only asked if they wanted normal candies like Raisinets or Swedish Fish with their popcorns and sodas, not glucose tablets.

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May-hem

I’ve been slacking off on my blogging lately, but it’s all due to how busy the month of May has been for me. Here’s a quick recap of what’s been going on in my life:

  • May 1-2: Final Exams
  • May 3: 21st Birthday
  • May 5: Last day of finals
  • May 6: Home for the summer, my boyfriend’s birthday
  • May 8: Job Interview
  • May 10: Babysitting
  • May 11: Mother’s Day
  • May 12-16: Diabetes Blog Week, ending on my dad’s birthday
  • May 20-23: College Diabetes Network Retreat
  • May 24: Attended a friend’s wedding
  • May 28: Started a new job

It’s wild to reflect on all these events that took place over the course of a single month. It’s sort of a wonder how diabetes management was thrown into the mix and none of these occasions turned out to be a total disaster. Perhaps a reason why is the experience I had on the College Diabetes Network retreat that I attended last week.

CDN Retreat

On Tuesday, May 20th, 22 people came together in Bridgton, Maine because of one thing they all had in common: type one diabetes. 18 were student leaders of CDN chapters at various colleges around the country, 3 were part of the team that makes CDN possible, and 1 was there to film the entire experience. It sounds a bit like a reality show (#therealworldCDN, anyone?), only with fewer train wrecks and far more intelligent conversations. I spent three hours driving to the location, and even when I got to the lake house, I still had no idea what to expect when I walked through that door.

I certainly didn’t think I would bond with this group of people so quickly. You might think we hit it off right away because of our shared diabetes, but that was not the only contributing factor (really, it was only prevalent at mealtimes when we would sit down and listen to a chorus of pumps and CGMs going off). On the contrary, I think the other traits we shared outshone diabetes. In the middle of our first group discussion, I could see we each possessed certain levels of passion, motivation, commitment, leadership, and innovation that drew us closer together. It was refreshing to be around other students who shared my dedication to the CDN and its goals. And the chatter didn’t end with CDN – in our free time, we went on kayaking adventures and stayed up late watching movies, talking and getting to know each other the whole time.

72 hours later, I found it difficult to say goodbye to my newfound friends. However, I’m glad I had the chance to meet them and I’d like to thank them for reminding me (in a subtle but powerful manner) that I need to remind myself of the stronger qualities comprising my identity. I’m starting to embrace my take-charge attitude and I’m applying it now more than ever to my diabetes. It may sound trite, but the CDN retreat had a dual purpose for me. It introduced me to numerous ideas and resources that I know I will apply to my own CDN chapter and it also showed me how diabetes management really is doable despite the mayhem ruling my life. So for that, I want to say thank you to everyone who was at the retreat for making it a truly wonderful experience that helped me in more than one way. You guys are rock stars. 

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