Being Diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of two meant a life full of site changes, finger pokes, and carb counting. It’s always been a huge part of not only my life, but my family’s life. Today I took the time to stop and think about how this disease has affected my sister over the years. When discussing this with her she had a similar response to mine: I was diagnosed when we were both pretty young, so it just seemed normal. Although it’s always been normal to the both of us, it doesn’t mean that it’s been an easy ride. Between the hospital stays and low blood sugars, the every day responsibilities of being a Diabetic have consumed a lot of our Mom and Dad’s attention over the years. My sister expressed her memories of having to be more cautious around me as a child and getting in extra trouble when she picked on me. My all time favorite story is when my sister used to yell “run Anna, Mom’s got a needle!!” (I can only imagine how fun this made my Mom’s job of trying to give me a shot). Some children have different experiences than my sister and me. Not everyone is diagnosed at such a young age, and the diagnosis of a sibling can be a traumatic experience. So I’m writing this article to my sister and any other sibling of a Type 1 Diabetic to say thank you. Thank you for understanding when I hogged all of Mom and Dad’s attention, even if I didn’t mean to. Thank you for never looking at me as strange or weird and always just your sister. Thank you for always being my best friend and partner in crime, even when you had to tiptoe around me (even though you still did your fair share of beating me up). The job of looking out for a sibling with Type 1 Diabetes is a big role to take on, and a thank you is well deserved. I would have never made it this far without the love and support of my older, cooler sister.
Being a Type 1 Diabetic, I’m often asked a lot of questions about my everyday life and diet. The most common question that I receive is “Since you have Diabetes, does that mean you can’t have sugar?” The answer to this question is no. Type 1 Diabetics should eat healthy, just as anyone else should, but sugar is still allowed. I throw some extra insulin into my pump and enjoy sweets just like everyone else! This was especially hard for me in elementary school when people brought in birthday snacks and gave me something healthy to eat instead. At the time, I didn’t understand why I was being singled out and couldn’t enjoy a special treat, too. Now that I’m older, of course I understand that the parents were just trying to be nice and were worried about me. Looking back, I wish they would have known that I was just like the other kids! (Keep in mind that it is always a good idea to talk to the parents of the child with diabetes about what they can and cannot eat!) Another major misconception is that an unhealthy lifestyle causes Type 1 Diabetes. This is also false. Although the cause of Type 1 Diabetes is still unknown, doctors believe that it is caused from genetics or an environmental trigger. These are just a few of the things that I, and other Diabetics, wish everyone knew. Hopefully this information can help you better understand the person in your life with Type 1 Diabetes!
Getting ready for a vacation can be a stressful time, especially being a Type 1 Diabetic. Packing all of your supplies and avoiding a scene at airport security are among the long list of added things a Diabetic must do before they can hit the beach. Here are a few tricks that I’ve learned along the way to make vacationing as a Diabetic go a little more smoothly. When packing for your trip, make sure to throw in some extra supplies in both your suit case and carry on, that way you are prepared if your luggage is ever lost. If you are a pump user, it’s always a good idea to pack extra supplies for a site change. Being at the beach or pool means that your infusion set is more likely to fall out. Then comes getting ready for the airport and security. We always bring along a letter from my doctor incase we run into problems with trying to bring my bottle of insulin on the plane in my carry on. In the last couple of years that I’ve flown on a plane, most security workers are very familiar with insulin pumps and getting through security is breeze. Now comes the actual vacationing part. While enjoying your time on the beach or by the pool, always keep your insulin or pump in the shade. I use a little freezable pouch to throw my pump in while I’m in the water to keep it out of the heat. Just throw the pouch in the freezer and grab it with you when you head out into the sun! I’ve noticed that they usually stay cold for about five hours! Another trick that I’ve found to be helpful over the years is giving myself a little extra insulin before taking my pump off to be in the water. This helps prevent my blood sugar from rising while I’m disconnected from my pump and not receiving insulin. Lastly, if you’re traveling anywhere in a different time zone, be sure to update the time on your insulin pump and meter! Hopefully these tips can help your vacation be a relaxing, stress-free time!
If you were anything like me, sports were a huge part of life when growing up. I started playing soccer at the age of four and continued all the way through my senior year of high school. As I got older and soccer became more competitive and demanding, it was difficult to manage my diabetes. With the high level of activity came lots of low blood sugars. I would often run low hours after I got done with soccer or even in the middle of the night. With the help of my family, we quickly learned the importance of night time snacks,eating protein, and testing my blood sugar before bed. It became part of my routine every night to check my blood sugar and eat a snack before I went to sleep. If I listened to my mom, it would be something with protein to hold my blood sugar throughout the night. Another issue I came across while playing soccer was the decision to wear my pump or not. I was most comfortable wearing my pump during practice, and taking it off for games. This meant there was always the risk of running high while on the field. We also found that the adrenaline and nerves I would feel before or during games could cause my blood sugar to rise as well. To prevent this the best we could, I would take a small amount of insulin before removing my pump and getting into the game. We discovered that in most cases my blood sugar would run a little bit too high, however, it would fall back down on its own shortly after activity. For those who choose to keep their pump on during games, there are lots of devices to help keep it in place. When I was younger, I tried out a strap that held my pump on my back while I played. There are also straps that can keep your pump secure around your waist while playing sports. Or if you’re like me, just clipping it onto my shorts during practice was the easiest and most comfortable. I did some searching online to find if there were any other new devices and was thrilled to see that there was a sports bra with a pouch for your pump. When it comes to being a pump user and staying active, choose what’s most comfortable for you!
For those of you who aren’t completely familiar with Type 1 Diabetes and all the lingo that comes with it, I’m writing this article to break it down for you. Type 1 Diabetics are dependent on insulin every day of their lives. On occasions, we take too much insulin or are active which can cause our blood sugar to drop too low. Other times, we miscalculate and take too little insulin and our blood sugar ends up high. Some diabetics take their insulin through injections, others wear pumps or continuous glucose monitors. Insulin pumps calculate how much insulin we need based on our blood sugar and how many carbs we eat. With an insulin pump comes site changes. A site change is when you move the infusion set on your stomach to a new spot to prevent an infection. A site change also involves reloading your pump with more insulin and new tubing. Continuous glucose monitors are similar to an insulin pump, but they keep constant track of what your blood sugar is for you. Another aspect of diabetes is testing your blood sugar. Most people are pretty familiar with this concept of finger poking. Carb counting is also a major aspect of Diabetes, which many people, diabetic or not, are familiar with. While things don’t always follow this pattern, these are the day to day basics of being a diabetic.
During high school, homecoming dances and prom were things every teen girl fantasized about. I mean you got to get all dolled up and go out with friends. Or maybe even that guy you’ve been dreaming of going with finally asked you, what girl wouldn’t be excited? With homecoming or prom comes finding the perfect dress. Well, being a Type 1 Diabetic and an insulin pump user meant that there was an extra accessory that I got to wear. What was I supposed to do with this contraption on my side? Was it going to ruin my outfit? Well, thanks to my mom and her constant support, we found a solution to this problem. After some searching online, she found that we could order a strap that went around my leg with a pouch to hold my pump. After my first time using the strap, it became my go-to for every dance after that. Being a teenage girl who just wanted to fit in, this was a life saver. Writing this article got me thinking about what other devices and options were out there for girls and women who are pump users wanting to wear a dress. I did some searching online and found that some women have pouches sewn into the sides of their dress to hold their insulin pumps. I also discovered that others are comfortable simply attaching their pump to their bra. My favorite idea that I came across was a pair of spandex with a pocket attached for the pump to comfortably sit in, and would work well for females of all ages. With a little creativity and an open mind, there are many ways to comfortably wear an insulin pump and a dress.
My name is Anna Clarizio and I’ve been living with Type 1 Diabetes for the last 17 years of my life. I created this blog to share my knowledge of Diabetes while being an athlete, a teenager, a student, and a healthy person. I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs over the years that have given me the knowledge and strength to tackle the struggles that come with being a Type 1 Diabetic. Being a long time Diabetic, I would love to share my experiences and help make an intimidating disease seem a little bit simpler. Whether you’re newly diagnosed, a parent of a child with diabetes, or just someone looking for advice, let this blog become your new go-to!