The new book is out just in time for the holidays! Whether you are a vegan, a low carb lover or someone who just wants to eat the standard American diet, you’re voice is represented by one of the many women I interviewed in this book. I thought I had a pretty good handle on eating right before I started writing this book, but I discovered that I was really misinformed. Filled with tips from experts and personal stories from women living with diabetes (including Ann Rosenquist Fee, Ginger Vieira, Sysy Morales, Brandy Barnes and more…) I hope that this book will answer your questions about eating right.
My sister and I used to laugh about our “high maintenance” handbags. We could never go anywhere without a bag full of diabetes supplies, and I think it only got worse with motherhood. Even after I realized I didn’t need to carry diapers and wipes with me everywhere I went, I could never scale back in size. Today I look at my friends with envy as they effortlessly sling their slim bags over their shoulder, or carry their cute clutches under their arms while my straps dig into my shoulder.
I blame it all on diabetes.
While some of the things in my bag are not related to diabetes, what makes my bag big are the following:
Finger Pricker (Lancet).
Omnipod Remote Control.
Almonds (for a low carb snack).
Pens…lots of pens. I hate to be without a pen when I need it.
Without the diabetes stuff I might be a more low maintenance kind of girl carrying a cute clutch, but instead, I’ll always be a big bag girl.
Notes from my friend Ann Rosenquist Fee on the content of her handbag (my theory is that we women with diabetes have larger bags than most):
Well, this is a surprise. It seems I owe my Freestyle Lite an apology. I would have sworn it was the reason I carry a huge handbag, but behold, my black nylon meter case (at the top in the corner, blending in so well that it’s hard to see) is about the smallest thing in here. Outsizing it are my Moleskine calendar, my makeup pouch, the case for the reading glasses I’ve had for months but have yet to use in public, my wallet and the Crown Royal bag that holds my Tarot cards. My travel-sized aerosol hairspray and my glucose tablets are the only things smaller, and they’re not that much smaller.
Freestyle Lite, I’m sorry. I guess it was never your fault. It’s especially hard to say that because this is our last week together. I have an appointment March 16 to get hooked up with an Omnipod, the stick-on insulin pump that comes with a meter which also remote-controls insulin delivery. The meter is supposed to look like a smartphone, but it’s too blue and wide and rubbery to pass for that. And the stick-on pump it controls is certainly less sleek than a syringe. I can’t tell you how sexy syringes look to me right now. I’ve been shooting up for almost eighteen years and I’ve grown to appreciate my BD Ultra-Fines, particularly the way they go back in my purse when they’re empty instead of sticking to my body, announcing my frailty like a big wart or a small hunchback. Syringes are so slender. Discreet. Vaguely heroin-y like too much eyeliner.
It’s not you, Freestyle. My creeping-up A1C says it’s time to move on to the pump and its special smartphoney meter but you’ll always have a place in my heart. As Stevie Nicks says, sort of, I’ve built my purse around you. And as Amy Stockwell Mercer says, I’ll always be a big bag girl.
Catherine Vancak was diagnosed with type1 diabetes in 2011 just as her ballet career was taking off.
I was about to graduate with my bachelors in dance from the University of Alabama. After dancing at the top of my game for so long, my body rapidly gave out on me. I had been feeling very ill throughout December and knew something was wrong. I was drinking as much Gatorade as I could, and couldn’t make it through an hour long rehearsal without going to the bathroom. I noticed that the other dancers didn’t have this problem. I thought I had the flu or was pushing myself too hard.
After barely surviving Christmas I was diagnosed in January of 2011 with Type 1 Diabetes. I sometimes jokingly say that diabetes was my Christmas present. It was such a difficult hit to my self-esteem and my dancing. I was just starting my first ballet job at the Montgomery ballet, and after a month of high blood sugars all of the strength and technique I had worked so hard to perfect had disappeared. I had a lot of work to do to get my life back on track. I started on Lantus and Apidra, and three months later I went on the pump. It was a very rocky start but I tried to keep fighting.
Tell me about dancing…how long have you been dancing? Were you concerned after you were diagnosed that you might not be able to compete or to continue dancing?
I’ve been dancing since I was four years old. So, I have been dancing for two decades already! I began in a little ballet class for children and quickly fell in love with it. I also love modern dance and flamenco. I moved my way up through the School of Alberta Ballet and after high school, I moved into their university program at the University of Calgary in Canada. After two years I transferred to the University of Alabama to finish my degree, and spent two and a half amazing years performing, perfecting my technique and choreographing. My love for choreography blossomed during my years there and I graduated Summa Cum Laude, but also with Type 1 Diabetes.
I quickly became injured at my new job following my diagnosis, and I seriously began to consider quitting ballet. I felt as if my body had been destroyed and I didn’t know how to fix it. I had devoted my life and sacrificed everything for this art, quitting was such a painful thought, but it was becoming a reality. I would sit on my own and wonder if I could ever rebuild my body and mind back to where I was. How long would it take? What would I do? No one could give me the specialized advice I needed. I felt alone and confused with this new challenge in my life.
Just as soon as I began to give up, I was given the most wonderful opportunity. Arova Contemporary Ballet in Birmingham Alabama contacted me offering me a soloist position. I couldn’t believe it. My emotional strength was recharged and I was determined to come back to dance stronger than what I was after my diagnosis. My injury required surgery so after a full year of rehab and hard work I returned to ballet to begin work at my new company. I am now on par with everyone else and my body dances even better than it used to. I really was able to come back. It took a very long time and was full of hardships. Even though it was difficult and frustrating, I had come so far with ballet, and it was too late to turn back. The way I see it is that ballet came first and I wasn’t going to let diabetes knock it out of position as the love of my life.
How do you manage your blood sugars with your training?
Ballet training has a bit of a love hate relationship with my diabetes. The exercise and motivation to condition and take care of myself certainly keeps my body insulin sensitive, but the stress and adrenaline from performing or trying to be perfect takes its toll. I try to be as consistent as possible and examine the variables that play with my blood sugars. I enjoy cycling to my classes, running, and swimming for cross training and I use Pilates, floor barre and physical therapy to support my dancing. I also eat a pretty strict Paleo diet with no grains, no dairy and limited carbohydrates. I turned to the Paleo diet when I was having high blood sugars that would crash low and swing back up causing my performance to deteriorate. I just didn’t have the time to deal with the lows and highs and eating this way makes things far simpler. I really try to reduce my stress by keeping my life organized and taking time for myself, even if it is just for a few minutes. I’ll admit I am a crazy perfectionist, but I try not to beat myself up if things don’t go as planned.
Do you feel diabetes has held you back at all with your dancing career? If so, why or why not?
I don’t think that diabetes has held me back with my dance career. I wear a One Touch Ping and a Dexcom in a little belt during my ballet classes and rehearsals and it blends right in with my leotard. I do have to remove them for contact dancing like partnering and arial work. My artistic director is wonderful to work with. She has my best interests at heart and supports me if I am having a bad diabetes day. She even knows how to give me glucagon (an injection to raise blood sugar quickly) if needed.
Having said that, there are times when I feel like diabetes tries to get in my way. Coming to rehearsal with a high blood sugar makes me spaced out and makes it difficult to remember what movements are being asked of me. I’ve also had times when fellow dancers take their hands on my shoulders and sit me down if I’m low. It always emotionally hurts to be forced to sit down when I’m low and watch the rehearsal or class move forward without me. Sometimes I guilty of ignoring my Dexcom and pushing through it, but that is dangerous and I try my best to avoid it.
You are working towards your masters in nursing and want to work with diabetics, is that right? When did you first decide to go in this direction? How do you think you can help others with diabetes and what would you want to teach others?
I’m actually in the process of applying for medical school. I’m finishing up my pre-med classes, along with dancing full time. I’m also on the junior board of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and am lucky enough to shadow my own endocrinologist. My time is sparse, but I am doing quite well so far. Medicine has always been an interest of mine. I have wanted to be a doctor as long as I have wanted to be a ballet dancer. Dancing is a time sensitive career, so I mentally prepared myself to shoot for two careers in my lifetime. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to live out both of my lifelong dreams.
I have a passion for working with other diabetics especially pediatrics. I may be a grown up, but I am still a big kid inside. Being a doctor is something very close to my heart, but what I can do with a medical degree is even more important. I would love to help athletes excel and children grow up healthy and strong despite having diabetes or other endocrine disorders. I want to help my patients achieve their dreams.
When I was diagnosed, all my medical professionals told me I could do anything with diabetes, but they never told me how get there. I had to do all of the work and experimentation on my own. Why can’t there be an open dialogue between doctor and patient where the aspirations and goals of the patient are respected? I’ve only known one doctor who has treated me like that and one is not enough. Diabetes is such a difficult, multifaceted disease and having a doctor who understands its intricacies is extremely valuable.
Tell me about Dtreat…I wish I’d known about it! I’ve heard so many great stories about diabetes camp, but never attended one myself. How has this experience benefited you?
Ah yes, Dtreat! Dtreat is a weekend diabetes camp for Type 1 diabetics aged 18-25. I had been diagnosed for 6 months before I attended Dtreat. Before Dtreat I didn’t “own” my diabetes. I hid my pump, my testing supplies and even referred to it as “this whole diabetes thing” as opposed to “my diabetes.” I thought if I could distance myself from the diabetes monster, then I wouldn’t have to take ownership of it, that it couldn’t touch me, or hurt me.
At Dtreat I met some incredible, inspiring people that truly “owned” their diabetes. They were in control of it, it wasn’t controlling them. Seeing that example stand right in front of me gave me the strength to take the reins and be proud that I was now a part of the diabetes club. I finally felt supported. I had people there who understood exactly what I was going through and my struggles were now validated. The friends I made at Dtreat are friends that I hold very close to my heart. Dtreat also showcased examples of extraordinary people living with diabetes enjoying wonderful lives. It proved to me that I could come back fully to dance. I had proof that I could survive and thrive!
I truly believe that diabetes camp is a wonderful adventure that every diabetic should be able to experience. Since Type 1 is a bit of a rarity you can feel alone in your fight, but seeing so many people sharing your struggles helps more than words can say.
What kind of advice would you give other young women with diabetes?
My best advice would be to keep going. I love this story. As I was recovering from a surgery 4 years ago, my mother asked me once I had achieved my dreams and was being interviewed for “Dance Magazine” what would I say the secret to my success was. I told her “I kept going.” Stay strong, we all stumble sometimes, but it’s more important about how we pick ourselves up and keep fighting than how many times we fall down.
Quinn Nystrom is a Smart Young Woman with Diabetes who is working hard to raise awareness and inspire others living with diabetes. She was recently a finalist in the Glamour Magazine & Sally Hansen’s “Best of You” contest. For the last 12 years they have honored inspirational women who find the best in themselves to bring out the good in others. At the time of our interview she had not heard who the winner was…fingers crossed Quinn!
Tell me what you remember about being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 14 years old?
My younger brother was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 5 years old and I remembers my mom asking the doctor what the likelihood was of another sibling being diagnosed, and he said no way. Two years after his diagnosis, I started feeling sick and when my mom used my brother’s meter to test my blood sugar, it read “High.”
All I wanted was to fit in at school so I was devastated to be different. At first, I was in denial because the kids at school bullied me because of their ignorance about diabetes. They would taunt me with cake and move away from me in class because they thought I was contagious. It wasn’t until my parent’s forced me to go to diabetes camp, (Camp Needlepoint in Wisconsin), that I changed my life. It was a regular summer camp, we hardly talked about diabetes, we swam and sailed and I felt socially accepted. Camp showed me that I had a choice-I could live my life being negative and complaining, or I could recommit to diabetes and raise awareness. Camp taught me to live my life despite diabetes.
Tell me about your diabetes advocacy.
When I was 16 years old I was chosen by the ADA to be a National Youth Advocate. It was actually on my 3rd year diabetes anniversary that I got the call of acceptance and it solidified what I want to do with my future. During that year I realized that people would listen to me because I am a “regular person” and I wasn’t sugar-coating anything about living with diabetes. I wanted to be honest about the realities of living with diabetes. I talk in laymans terms in a way that’s accessible. One time a young girl came up to me after my talk and said, “Can a girl with diabetes get a boyfriend?” She was really worried that she might not be able to date as a diabetic. So, I would always tell the story about my prom date (which is also the title of her upcoming book: “If I Kiss You, Will I Get Diabetes?”).
Quinn’s date actually asked her that question. Her book will be filled with personal stories that will help dispel crazy myths like diabetes is contagious.
What are your plans for the future?
I graduated from college in 2008 and recently quit my job with a pharmaceutical distributor because I want to see if I can make a career out of being a diabetes advocate. I wear a Medtronic pump and a CGM because recently I’ve struggled with hypoglycemia unawareness and my CGM has really helped me to see the patterns. Over the years my management has been up and down but now that I have finally accepted the emotional aspect of life with diabetes, my control is so much better. I workout with a trainer 2 times a week and go to hot yoga, this helps me stay healthy. I’m going to be in a closed loop study at the International Diabetes Center and I’m looking forward to that.
Tips from Quinn:
- Everything in moderation. It’s not helpful when people say, “You can’t eat that” because it makes me resentful. In my opinion, it’s about making healthy choices. Diabetes is every minute of every day and it’s okay to have a piece of cake, just don’t eat the whole cake, that’s not good for anyone!
- Don’t play the blame game. Perfectionism need not apply to diabetes!
Amanda Lynne is a sexy young woman. With her long dark hair, smoky eyes, and ruby red lips, Amanda is a burlesque dancer who strides across the stage in high heels and feathered costumes night after night. She also happens to have type 1 diabetes. “It’s not just enough to entertain,” she says. “If you can inspire people and set an example, that’s what makes a difference.”
Amanda started dancing when she was two years old. She remembers sitting in front of the TV watching the Nutcracker and mimicking the dancers. In her bare feet she danced so hard and so often, that she rubbed the skin off her little toes.
“That’s when my mom decided to enroll me in a dance class,” she laughs. At 4 years old she knew she wanted to be a ballroom dancer, the women in her favorite movie, “Ziegfeld Follies.” She never stopped dancing, even after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 14 years old.
Amanda says he was never really allowed to eat any sugar growing up, but remembers that she began sneaking it because she was starving all the time. At 5 ft. 2 inches and 72 pounds, by the time she got to the hospital her blood sugar was 900. The doctors said she was close to death. Amanda was given insulin, and after a few hours she snuck out of the hospital to go to dance class.
“If I was going to die, I wanted to die on the dance floor,” she says. She returned to the hospital after class and stayed there for 5 days, though she says the experience taught her that she needed to be her own doctor. “I ran up and down the stairs of the hospital to get my blood sugar down because I refused to stay in bed and be pumped full of insulin.” Amanda says the nurses were trying to feed her pancakes with sugar free syrup. “The dietician was giving me a list of what I could eat at McDonald’s and I was thinking, why don’t you tell me to change the way I eat?” Amanda explains that she has always been very strict about her diet and eats the same food every day. Her favorite is spicy Indian, which she says helps lower her insulin requirements. (There is currently no scientific proof that spices, other than cinnamon, will decrease insulin needs. Here is a good article on the benefits of cinnamon, tumeric and ginger.)
Amanda makes all her own costumes and is inspired by the styles and materials of Vaudeville, Lady Ga-Ga and old Broadway. Her costumes are brightly colored in pinks, greens and reds, and are bedazzled with feathers, flowers and sparkles. And while she loves all styles of dancing, Ballroom is her favorite. Burlesque dancing is theatrical, Amanda explains, with a lot of stretching while Brazilian Samba is fast paced and Ballroom, her favorite, is a great workout. She always keeps a juice box nearby and a brown rice bar to stabilize her sugars, which she says, is a healthier choice than glucose tabs.
One of the downsides of living with diabetes is her frequent low blood sugars. Amanda doesn’t drive and at 30 years old, still lives at home with her mom. She doesn’t wear a pump because it doesn’t work with her costumes, and has been rotating injections for so long that she has scarring on her stomach and thighs. “I’m honest about my body,” she says. Amanda wears fish net stocking and uses body make-up to hide the cellulite and scarring, and is a big supporter of Nivea Cellulite Cream. “Diabetes has not held me back in my career,” she says, “but it has in my personal life. I’ve never been ashamed and I deal with things head on.” Amanda lives in a world where sexiness sells, but says she provides “fresh, clean entertainment.” The coffee table book, “A Day In The Life Of A Showgirl” is now in the early stages of production and will discuss the fact that Amanda is a diabetic, which contributes to her passion for dance as the healthiest and most beautiful form of exercise.
Tips from Amanda:
- Be your own doctor
- Your body is a machine, exercise daily
- Find what works for you
Heidi-Jane James (T1 Tri Girl) has been running since she was seven years old, competing nationally across New Zealand, and holding national records for track running.
You were diagnosed when you were a child, tell me what that was like for you?
I was diagnosed when I was 14years old (1992) on Christmas Day. I had never known anyone else with the disease and wasn’t too sure what was going on. I wasn’t too upset about it all and I gave my first injection with no trouble.
What do you remember about your diagnosis…for example, what approach to diabetes management did your family take? Freedom or overprotection?
I’ve always been very independent and took on all the responsibilities of injecting and testing myself. My parents were very protective of me though and I wasn’t really allowed to go anywhere.
When did you start running and competing? How do you manage blood sugars with training and competing? Do you wear a pump? Do you carry glucose tabs etc. etc.
I started running when I was 7 years old. I watched my father running on the track and in marathons from a young age and my mother play netball every Saturday in the winter. I was ranked #1 in NZ when I was diagnosed with diabetes and thought that I wouldn’t be able to run fast again. After being diagnosed I have been a National Track Champ (1995) only 3 years after being diagnosed, represented NZ in 4 ITU World Triathlon/Duathlon champs and completed 5 Ironman races.
I wear an insulin pump now but did my entire track running with MDI’s. I carry gels in my pocket and when I run with my husband he always carries some too. I try to manage my BG levels during exercise with complex carbs as a preventative rather than treating a hypo. It’s just too hard to recover from a hypo when you are training or racing.
Tell me about your advocacy efforts? Type 1 Tri-Girl runs sports camps, is that right? Why are these camps important, what is your goal for these camps and did you go to a diabetes camp as a child?
I set us T1 Tri Girl to show people that T1’s can do anything. I run camps for adult who want to learn how to be better at controlling their BG levels as well as youth/teen camps for kids who are into sport. It used to frustrate me that I couldn’t get any help with my sport related diabetes questions whenever I went to the Endo…so I wanted to help people with that side of their diabetes.
Your website headline uses the phrase ‘a proud Type 1 Diabetic’ tell me why the word proud is important.
I say “a proud Type 1 Diabetic” because I love having diabetes. I wouldn’t know what to do without my diabetes…It makes me unique and special. I feel stronger knowing that I can do things that people without diabetes can do and sometimes better.
What are your future athletic goals?
I am training for the ITU world triathlon champs in October where I would like to finish in the top 20. My ultimate goal is to qualify for Kona World Ironman Champs.
Learn more about Heidi-Jane at:
Sara Sklaroff, former Editorial Director of Diabetes Forecast, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes the day before the 9/11 attacks. At the time she was working as the Culture Editor for US News World Report, and says “I spent the first two days of knowing I had diabetes watching TV.” Part of her job was to stay informed of the events, and this meant obsessively watching news coverage. The timing of these life-changing events, both globally and personally, set Sara on a course to raise awareness about diabetes. She is doing that now, using her voice and her journalistic talents, to offer people with diabetes a “Helping Hand.” Her recent article, On Our Own, Why We Who Struggle To Live With Diabetes Could Use A helping Hand, in Health Affairs details the challenges of living with diabetes and offers suggestions for systemic change.
The diagnosis of type 2 diabetes at 30 years old came as a surprise to this busy career woman, but Sara says looking back on the years leading up to her diagnosis, she recognizes some red flags.
“Every afternoon when I was walking home from work I’d feel shaky,” she says. “I’d stop at a bakery and carbo load and then I’d go home and fall asleep for a couple hours. It was a terrible cycle.” A change in doctors lead to the diagnosis and she was started on Avandia. She now manages her blood sugars with insulin, metformin, exercise and healthy eating.
A ‘series of fortunate events’ lead Sara to a week at Canyon Ranch for a diabetes program, where she says she learned how much she didn’t know about the complexities of diabetes.
“I worked with Dr. Alan Moses who became my guru,” she says. “I’ve learned so much from him about the science, history and management of diabetes, and it started me thinking about people who don’t have these resources. Even the people at Canyon Ranch who had access to education and support were struggling. That’s the thing I love about cultural journalism; it allows me to get into worlds that are inaccessible and communicate what I learn to a wider audience.”
This was a turning point for Sara who realized that she wanted to communicate the scientific information about diabetes to the general public. Then, fate interrupted, and she got a call from Diabetes Forecast.
Sara worked as the Editorial Director from 2006-2011 and stepped down last summer to spend more time with her young daughter. “The decision was wrenching,” she says. Her work at the magazine was rewarding and she felt that she’d accomplished her goals of transforming DF into a “Lifestyle Magazine,” but it was hard to leave. (So hard to leave in fact that she has stayed on as Editor at Large.)
(A side note here, I remember the old Diabetes Forecast, before Sara came on board and I was never a fan. The magazine didn’t speak to me as a young woman with diabetes, it felt dated and depressing, and I was not a subscriber until she took over the helm!)
“I wanted to cover diabetes like Yoga Journal covers the ‘culture’ of the yoga lifestyle, and focus on the culture of being a diabetes person—issues, science, tips on storing meds—all the different aspects of living with diabetes.”
Sara succeeded in turning DF into a compelling lifestyle magazine, writing some especially inspiring columns on living with diabetes that speak to me as a woman with type 1. She still writes columns for the magazine, and one of my favorites is: A Question of Health. In it she asks whether she is “sick” because she has diabetes. Sara writes: day to day, it’s important to me—given how often I have to think about my disease—to consider myself healthy. And I am happy when I feel healthiest, swimming around in the pool with my daughter, jogging laps in the park, taking walks with my husband.
Sara continues to write from home and we are lucky for it. Her ideas about ‘fixing the image problem’ for diabetes will help people change the way they think about diabetes. This is a smart woman with diabetes.
Kim Vlasnik is a diabetes advocate living in Nebraska with her husband. She is the author of the great blog “Texting My Pancreas,” and the “You Can Do This” project.
You were diagnosed in 1986 at the age of 6. Tell me what you remember from that time. I’m a big believer that the way parents handle their kid’s diagnoses has a big impact on the way we see ourselves and the way we manage our diabetes. How did your parents approach diabetes management-do you have siblings and if so, did you feel like you were treated differently? Did you go to a diabetes camp? Did you feel overprotected or were you given independence?
There aren’t a lot of things I remember about the days following my diagnosis – learning to inject into oranges, a tupperware container with all of my new ‘diabetes stuff’ residing on our kitchen counter, and a little bit of fear are what have stuck with me. I had known that my grandfather (who had passed before I was born) had also had type 1 diabetes and endured many of the complications, and so I knew that I now had this big, scary thing too. My parents did a great job of learning what needed to be done and tried to engage me in the process of taking care of myself. I can’t remember there being anything I wanted to do that diabetes prevented me from doing. Slumber parties, dance classes, art lessons, cheerleading – those were all experiences I still got to have.
I attended Camp Floyd Rogers in Nebraska for two years as an almost-teenager, and those experiences helped me in so many ways – though I’m not sure I realized that at the time. I got to see firsthand that I wasn’t alone in having to deal with diabetes as a person my age; I saw that other people had to take shots too. I saw that I was mostly capable of handling the diabetes stuff without my parents nearby. I think it was here that I started to taste a little bit of freedom and hope.
You’ve mentioned that you went through some years of not being in the best control (me too, I would not want to return to adolescence!). What changed? How and why did you decide to do things differently?
College was the roughest time for me diabetically speaking, as I think it is for most people. For me, this period of time also included an undiagnosed thyroid condition that sort of spiraled me out of control – of diabetes and of life. I didn’t want to have diabetes anymore, and many of my actions were true to that wish. It’s a dark place that I want to help others stay out of. I was lucky to escape it relatively unscathed.
Finding a doctor who properly diagnosed me, and subsequently finding the right combination of thyroid medication, helped me start to feel a little more like myself. Things still weren’t as good as they could have been, though. It took a few more years and an accidental finding of a few diabetes blogs and communities that really helped me own my health and feel confident and supported in doing what I needed to do. I’m not sure I would have been convinced to try an insulin pump (and definitely not a CGM, to which I am now certainly addicted) had I not found this online community when I did. I found people who felt the same things I felt and struggled with the same things I struggled with, and if they could wear those things and be okay (and even more than okay) with it, why couldn’t I? Emotional support has been essential to my overall health.
You have been a big part of the DOC since 2010 with your blog and the “You Can Do this” project. Tell me where you got the idea for the project and what makes your blog unique. (I would say your humor but I’m not going to put words in your mouth!)
The You Can Do This Project was born while I was on an elliptical, watching Glee. A Google Chrome commercial about the It Gets Better project came on and moved me to the point that I froze mid-stride, watching and wiping tears away. There is such power in positive realism, and in acknowledging and validating the really tough experiences in life. One of the most universal things I see from people with diabetes who first find the online community is that whatever their situation was, they “don’t feel so alone anymore.” I wanted to help foster that feeling in others by asking PWDs to share their stories: what they’ve been through, what they’re working on, and what they’ve accomplished. The project has generated dozens of videos from all walks of diabetes life, and I love that there exists this pool of videos that anyone can access when they need encouragement. And we’re not done yet!
With Texting My Pancreas, I just do what feels right. I share my story – the good, the bad, and the way ugly – because that’s what I appreciate from others. I try to help people feel a little bit better about life with diabetes, and if they actually laugh? I’m not sure how it gets better than that.
What advice would you give to other women with diabetes? Or what is the best advice you ever received about how to live well with diabetes?
One of the biggest revelations I’ve had about living with diabetes is the idea of “perfect,” and how it doesn’t actually exist. “Perfect” is one of those dangerous mythical things that can really damage your self-worth when you try to measure yourself up to it. No one is perfect. Let me say that again – no one is perfect. No one has all of the answers, and if you have diabetes, highs and lows will be there no matter what. The best thing you can do for yourself is to keep trying, keep working, keep starting over. Try as hard as you can, but also forgive yourself when things don’t go as planned – and start again tomorrow.