When you’re diagnosed with type 1 at 22 like I was, your diabetes management starts out as all your own. There is no adolescent journey to independent care. A fact for which I’m sometimes thankful. Growing up is difficult enough, I don’t know what it’s like having diabetes added to that mix, but my guest blogger today knows exactly what it was like.
Corinne, the brain’s behind an award-winning diabetes life hack, Pumpstash, is sharing her story about learning to manage her type 1 diabetes on her own. (Corinne was recently named one of the winners of the DiabetesMine Patient Voices Contest. Just a reminder, I do a little work for them.)
My name is Corinne Logan, I am a 20 year old college student, have had type 1 diabetes for almost 19 years, and been on the insulin pump for 14 years. Looking back through middle school and high school there are so pretty cringe worthy moments, from bad outfits, to dumb behavior, to learning how to deal with my diabetes on my own and figuring out what role it played in my daily life.
When I was 12 or 13 I was convinced I was mature and responsible enough to handle my life on my own. Nevermind that I couldn’t drive, had no income, and essentially had no clue what I was doing. This new quest for independence included wanting to handle my diabetes on my own. I didn’t want to have to call my Mom to confirm boluses, have my parents be in charge of my supplies, or calculate the best pre-sport practice snack. Just as I wasn’t ready to be responsible for myself in non-diabetes ways, I definitely wasn’t ready to handle diabetes on my own.
The next few years were full of arguments about how responsible and mature I was and how I could handle things on my own. I would be adamant I didn’t need help until I sent a desperate text begging one of my parents to drop insulin at a sleepover, getting dizzy in the middle of class and realizing I had no low-blood sugar snacks, and ending up at 350 after a carb guesstimation.
Besides just taking care of my health, I struggled with where diabetes and I stood throughout my teenage years. My parents were always telling me that diabetes didn’t define me but I sometimes took that too far and wouldn’t even let it be a part of me. At pizza parties I wouldn’t want to have to leave everybody, check my blood sugar, adjust, and then eat and draw attention to myself. I didn’t want to be the girl that always had a backpack filled with supplies, I got annoyed when friends asked if they could have some of my emergency candy, and often got uncomfortable with all of the questions and comments that came with pulling my pump or meter out. At the end of the day, I didn’t want any extra attention on me because of my diabetes and would convince myself my daily life was no different than any other teenager around me.
Now that I am entering my junior year of college, I’ve changed my opinion on diabetes. I still don’t want to be known by my diabetes or let my lacking pancreas define me, but I’ve learned to embrace some of the differences. I’ve learned that taking the two minutes to check my blood sugar will make me feel a lot better in a few hours, my friends love having me and my always present bags to hold their wallets and phones, and I’ve learned how to deflect and respond to candy requests as well as curious questions and comments about what diabetes is like. I’ve learned to appreciate how much my parents have done for me to make my diabetes life seem as normal as possible, and to always take them up on their offer to change my insulin or battery when I’m home.
One part of my diabetes I still like to keep more hidden is my pump. For both safety and style reasons, I don’t like getting my tubing caught on doors, chairs, elbows, you name it. I also don’t like working out while clutching my pump to the side, or the always fun game of figuring out where to put a pump with a dress. With my mom’s help in high school, I was able to figure out that by putting a pocket in spandex shorts (which I wore while working out or with skirts and dresses) it stayed out of the way and comfortable. In my first couple years of college I realized how many other people were having the same problem and were desperate for a solution as well, which is how Pumpstash came to be.I love them because I always know where my pump is and the pump is easy to access while wearing them and there is no danger of the tubing getting twisted and knotted, but I also don’t have to wear a big clip shouting to the world I have diabetes. We are 60% of the way to raising $5000 on Kickstarter by June 18th and would love any donation/support/pre-order we can get. You can find out more about the campaign here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1714066693/pumpstash
As I continue the transition into adulthood with diabetes, I am looking forward to finding the balance between being the “diabetes girl” and having the lifestyle of a “normal” person. I look back at my 13 year old self and laugh at how confidently I thought I knew what I was doing, because I don’t think I ever will completely.