On May 28, 1995, at the age of 16, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. In August, 1995 I had the opportunity to attend Camp Needlepoint, a camp for kids with diabetes in Hudson, WI. The experience that I had at camp was incredible and I believe really shaped the person that I am today living with diabetes. When I arrived at camp I was only armed with the brief education that I had after being diagnosed. While I was at camp I learned about new fangled things; carb counting, insulin pumps as well as information about how other people my age were living with diabetes every day. After camp I made the decision that I wanted to go on an insulin pump. In 1995 it was very uncommon for someone under the age of 18 to go on an insulin pump. After several months of proving my diabetes knowledge base, my doctor allowed me to go on the pump.
Since Camp Needlepoint had been such an incredible experience for me I continued to volunteer my time at camp, first as a camp counselor and then on medical staff as a Certified Insulin Pump Trainer. Along my diabetes journey, I decided that I wanted to work for the American Diabetes Association and make an impact in the lives of people afflicted with diabetes. After I finished Graduate School I took a job with the American Diabetes Association in New Jersey working on the Tour de Cure. After a year in the New Jersey Office I transferred to the Minnesota office to work on the American Diabetes Association Minnesota Gala and the Diabetes EXPO. The EXPO was an exciting challenge, being that it was a new program for the Minnesota Area. I have been with the ADA now for over 8 years.
My greatest diabetes accomplishment was in October of 2008 when my son Alex was born. I made the decision to use a continuous glucose monitor during my pregnancy and have continued to use one since he was born. Having diabetes and being pregnant was challenging not only because I needed to keep my blood sugars between 70-140 but also because I had what felt like a million doctors’ appointments. What I learned during my pregnancy is that diabetes is like a marathon, you can’t focus too much on one number or the next; it is about the entire race. I am happy to share that all of the focus and determination paid off when Alex was born healthy and with no complications.
Some days it can be difficult living with diabetes as well as working in the diabetes field but I can truly say that I believe everything happens for a reason and my reason for having diabetes is to help others. I am fortunate that many of the friends that I made at Camp Needlepoint, right after I was diagnosed, are still very close friends today and support ADA through sharing – volunteering their time, acting- participating in our events, learning – about the latest diabetes information and giving – donating money to the organization to support diabetes information, research and advocacy. I look forward to meeting you at an event in the near future.
American Diabetes Association MN