When were you diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes?
I was four years old and living overseas in Germany. I had been extremely thirsty and beginning to lose consciousness when my parents took me to the hospital . This was at Christmas 1982 and luckily I was surrounded by family.
I was only four, so really had no understanding yet of what this all meant. I remember feeling pride at doing my first injection but my parents have since told me that when I
realised diabetes wasn’t going to go away, it hit me hard and I struggled to understand why or how this happened to me.My parents were incredibly supportive of me, making a fuss of me for doing my injections and helping me accept it. As I grew older my friends and partner played increasingly important roles in helping me thrive with
diabetes. Being knowledgeable about it and understanding what I go through has given us a new dimension to our relationship.
Why did you choose an Animas insulin pump?
I loved the waterproof feature as surfing and kayaking are very important to me. I also loved the option of integrating Dexcom G4® PLATINUM CGM and removing the need for separate, expensive devices. Before I went on a pump I was on multiple daily injections and I was beginning to show signs of complications, having had diabetes for 25 years. I was told an insulin pump could help me tackle the blood sugar swings I had so regularly. Because for me nothing beats waterproof and integrated CGM I chose the Animas® Vibe® Insulin Pump.
How did your Animas insulin pump change your life? If it did, how did the pump change your everyday routines?
I stated to sleep so much better at night because I was no longer swinging from low to high. My sickness level at work went down and I was able to worry less about overnight hypos or exercising. I could exercise safely for the first time in a long time. I am a blogger and keen diabetes advocate and while I am not a sporting ‘hero’ I love to
outside, be that walking in the mountains, kayaking with my family or trying to surf. I love diabetes adventure weekends and thrive in an environment where everybody ‘gets it’. There is no greater power than that of the diabetes community.
What sport do you practice, and how has the Animas® Vibe® Insulin Pump had an impact on exercise for you?
I love to surf (badly) and kayak. Both of these mean being away from a non-waterproof pump for several hours, which is not advised and definitely not a good idea. The Animas® Vibe™ Insulin Pump gave me back these activities and I just got back from travelling to the other side of the world where I surfed, kayaked, swam and paddled in
the oceans and lakes of New Zealand. It would have been a very different, lesser experience without my Animas® Vibe™ Insulin Pump.
The main challenge while exercising is what I call the ‘X’ factor. The X factor can be any one of the many things which impact blood sugar and mean that one day is never the same as the next. This is rarely fun, because it means you are always carrying out a science experiment of sorts. The insulin pump makes this so much easier though and once you introduce regular exercise into the mix, life with D becomes much more easy to manage, and a smaller part of your life.
What are your main challenges with living with Type 1 diabetes and playing sports and how do you overcome them? (If any)
The main challenge is what I call the ‘X’ factor. The X factor can be any one of the many things which impact blood sugar and mean that one day is never the same as the next. This is rarely fun, because it means you are always carrying out a science experiment of sorts. The pump makes this so much easier though and once you introduce regular exercise into the mix, life with D becomes much more easy to manage, and a smaller part of your life.
What are your main day-to-day challenges with living with Type diabetes and how do you cope with them?
The main challenge for me is the blood sugar guessing game. Carb-counting works to an extent, but anticipating how the food, exercise, stress and even weather can affect you, means we have to do a lot of guess work. Since using Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) I have found I have much better control of my blood sugar levels. It’s like the ‘sat nav’ telling you where you are going and where you’ve been. Throw a great pump like the Animas® Vibe® Insulin Pump into the mix, and you have a lot more help managing your diabetes and can spend more time enjoying life. And that’s the point after all, isn’t it?
What would you say to someone who has heard your story, also lives with Type 1 diabetes and now wants a challenge of their own?
Do it! You don’t have to climb a mountain or run a marathon for something to be a challenge worth taking on; goodness knows I haven’t done those things. Maybe your dream is to feel safe going travelling, or to live abroad. Perhaps you want to try a water sport or try a 5K. Maybe your challenge is having children or starting your own business. With the right support and diabetes under control, nothing is out of reach. Get yourself a little team of people you trust and can support you, and explore what the best option for treatment is for you. Once you have those things, mixed with a little ambition, you can’t fail!
What advice would you give someone who has just been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes?
Get educated; get involved.
Get educated: Elliott Joslin said “the person with diabetes who knows the most, lives the longest.” I would add to this that we don’t just want to live, right? We want to THRIVE! Nowadays there is so much information, technology, knowledge and support around that diabetes can fit into your life without stopping it in its tracks. Start exploring some of the better resources like JDRF, Diabetes UK, DRWF and IDF, and find out as much as you can – it’s really quite amazing!
The next thing is get involved! The Diabetes Community, which started online for me, was a saving grace when it came to embracing my diabetes. There was always someone awake when I needed to talk, and always someone who could answer my questions. You won’t just find friends, you may just find your calling! You will meet communities full of like-minded people who can help you on this sometimes bumpy journey.