Monday, July 8, 2013

my diabetes real-life community: meet mandy

i discovered the doc (diabetes online community) a few years ago. it was a great thing that i stumbled upon, i met an unending number - it keeps growing - of people with diabetes, or who live with/take care of someone who has diabetes. i had a group that i could relate to, that understood exactly what i was saying and going through. i've met some great friends from the doc ... but, i don't just have them. i have friends in 'real life' who are diabetic. i thought i'd introduce you to some of them!

i asked each of them the same 13 questions (in honor of my 13th diaversary), which is cool because it tells us how different (and similar) living with diabetes can be for everyone. for the next week-ish, i hope you'll enjoy getting to know my diabetes real-life community.

up first, meet mandy. we met when we were in college. we had classes together and worked together. we became great friends and have ended up having way more in common than just a friendship!

mandy with her husband

mandy is the customer experience manager for banana republic in green hills, nashville, tn. she and her husband are both originally from kentucky and met while at western kentucky university (that's when i met them too!). they'll be celebrating their five year anniversary this october. they have a large, spoiled boxer named zoie. no children yet ... she says for now, her husband and the dog are enough work! eating great food is a huge passion of theirs. they enjoy experiencing new restaurants throughout the city and attending concerts and comedy shows anytime they can.

what type of diabetes do you have? 
Type 1

how long have you had it/when were you diagnosed?
I was diagnosed 6 years ago at age 26, but I'm fairly certain I had it starting in college. The symptoms were there.

can you tell us a quick summary of your diagnosis story? 
I was originally diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic and was put on 2 long-lasting insulin shots a day along with an oral medication. For 2 years, I never saw better A1C results and continued to feel terrible. I finally made the switch to a new endocrinologist here in Nashville, Dr. Weirum. I had also been diagnosed with Graves Disease at this point, so I was a large project for him. He saved me! Immediately, on my first visit he explained that I was certainly not a type 2 diabetic, but a type 1. He increased my insulin shots to 5-6 daily (this included fast-acting with meals). I underwent radio-active iodine therapy to "kill" my thyroid a few months later. I could feel the difference within days and will be forever grateful to Dr. Weirum for correcting my previous doctor's mistake. I worked with him over the next year and he gave me the all-clear for an insulin pump a year and a half-ago. My A1C is a work-in-progress, but I appreciate having a doctor who continuously works with me to achieve better results, without zero judgement.

how do you treat it (shots, pump, pen, etc)? do you use any other technologies (CGM, etc)? 
I wear an insulin pump now. I do wear a CGM every 3 months for a week long period to give my doctor a better glance at my sugars. It's also nice to try out different foods/restaurants to troubleshoot how much insulin I should be using.

what are some of your daily concerns, worries or considerations? 
How will I feel today and how will it affect my mood, energy, etc. I also worry about pregnancy in the future and how difficult the process will be.

what do you wish people without diabetes understood?
That I can wake up on any given day and feel like complete crap. I have a very understanding husband, family and work-family that are very concerned about my well-being. Some days, it's hard to function if my sugars have been out of whack for even just a day. 

how do you describe the feeling and symptoms of lows and to people who don't have diabetes? 
For me, it's a weird internal red-flag that I get. Luckily, my body still gives me those even when I'm in a deep sleep. I generally get very anxious and begin sweating. I also become very irritable and find it difficult to focus. When I do get that internal "catch," I immediately check my sugar, confirm the low and treat.

what about the feeling and symptoms of highs? 
Highs are the worst tired you will ever feel. I can work through them better now than before, but I use to not be able to get off the couch. My body feels like it weighs 500 pounds. I'm very groggy and irritable. I hate highs more than lows!

what's your go-to treatment for lows? 
Blueberry-Pomegranate Juice or regular soda. Sometimes, candy or chocolate, but I typically do not keep this around the house.

what's your meal plan? do you follow a special diet? do you enjoy the same treats that 'everyone else' does? 
I honestly don't have a meal plan, but probably should. I eat way too many carbs, because I love them! There are certain foods I will stay away from because of the highs they bring (pancakes). But for the most part, I have learned what foods require more insulin and I utilize my Dual Wave Bolus on my pump for foods like Pizza and Mexican.

what diabetes myth do you wish would get busted? 
Hmmm. This is a tough one. I actually haven't encountered anyone who seemed to be completely uneducated about the disease. Most people want to tell you who they know that has diabetes and their story. I did have someone tell me once that I couldn't allow diabetes to dictate my life. That is easy for you to say when you are a healthy individual. You try working a full-time job with sugars in the 400's and then we'll talk.

what would you tell someone who was just diagnosed with diabetes? 
Patience is key. I felt so awful, I wanted things to be fixed immediately. I had to work with the right team in order to find the best path for me. And it's always a work-in-progress. Don't let things frustrate you when/if you take a step backward. There's always room for improvement.

what's your favorite flavor cupcake? 

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