Starting A College Diabetes Network Chapter – by Nicole Reed

Nicole Reed shares her story of how and why she founded the New York University Chapter of the College Diabetes Network. To hear more, head to our Facebook Page to check out the recent Minisode she did with us!

I founded the New York University (NYU) Chapter of the College Diabetes Network in the fall of 2016. My goal was to provide those living with type one diabetes a community of support and to raise awareness. The NYU Chapter, which is the first chapter of the College Diabetes Network in New York City, meets on a monthly basis for discussions related to the experience of living with diabetes in college. Past meetings have included discussions about diabetes with regard to academic performance, relationships, mental stress, and travelling. In the spirit of serving others, the NYU Chapter also volunteered at the JDRF Type One Nation event in the Spring of 2017 to answer any questions people had about life with diabetes on campus. 

Created in 2010 by Christina Roth, a student at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the College Diabetes Network is a non-profit organization, which provides innovative peer-based programs on college campuses (and beyond) and empowers young adults to succeed in life with diabetes. The College Diabetes Network nurtures a community of support through online resources, such as its website and social media pages, in addition to parents, fellow students, medical authorities, and campus administrators. 

The most common question that I am asked when I tell people I have diabetes is: “how did you find out that you have this condition?” Symptoms like unquenchable thirst, utter exhaustion, and frequent urination persisted for a few months until my blood sugar reached a dangerously high level, which made me feel very sick. Shortly after my diagnosis in the emergency room at a local hospital, my family and I began attending events hosted by my local JDRF chapter. Having experienced the unconditional support and care from people in the exact situation as myself, I wanted to give people living with type one diabetes opportunities to form bonds with one another. 

On Tuesday, September 26th, I will celebrate my 10th anniversary living with type one diabetes! 

Pep Me Up – by Stephanie Haack

Stephanie Haack is from Berlin, Germany and lives with type 1 diabetes. Today she shares her story on how the Internet changed her life in several ways and how she is giving back to the diabetes community through Pep Me Up!

The Internet is a magical place. You can find all kinds of information, inspiration and connections – endless possibilities are only a few clicks away. It can literally change your life.  

The Internet changed my life eight years ago. I had been feeling tired and unwell for a few months, battling infection after infection, when I started noticing that I was unusually thirsty. One day, after gulping down two huge bottles of water and still running back to the kitchen, I realised that this couldn’t possibly be normal. So I turned to the Internet. It didn’t take much more than googling thirst and reading the first few results until I called my boyfriend and told him: “Google says I have diabetes. But that can’t be it, right?”. We both laughed it off, but the next day, the doctor made it official. All I needed to say was thirst and tiredness. All they needed to do was a simple finger prick. They immediately sent me off to see a specialist, who immediately sent me to a hospital to get settled in for a week and learn everything I needed to know about the condition that I would now live with for the rest of my life. 

During the years that followed, I had a hard time accepting that diabetes would be a big part of my life now. I couldn’t admit to myself or my friends and family, that diabetes is actually a big deal. I didn’t know anyone else who had type 1 and I didn’t feel that my healthcare team understood what I was going through. I wanted to be perceived as strong and independent rather than sick and weak. So I told myself and anyone who would listen that this condition didn’t take a toll on me. 

But let’s be honest: Even despite all the advancements in technology and modern diabetes management, diabetes will always demand a lot of time and energy from the person living with it. 

And then, after years of feeling isolated with this diagnosis, the Internet changed my life again. After an appointment with my endocrinologist we were trying to figure out the date for our next meeting. When I checked my calendar on my phone, he said something like “You’re a young, modern woman. You should get in touch with these crazy people I met at a conference recently. They play blood sugar bingo on the internet!”. I had no idea what blood sugar bingo was, but he handed me a flyer and that is how I found my way to the diabetes online community. I still can’t believe that after diagnosing myself via Google, I had never thought of googling “Diabetes” again – and that I needed an old school flyer to finally find out that there was a whole other world out there! 

I couldn’t believe how many people with diabetes were active on social media, exchanging thoughts and experiences, helping each other out in difficult situations or just lending an ear. So many different blogs, online forums and Facebook groups – I knew immediately that I wanted to be part of this and contribute to this incredible community! That is why, two years ago, I started my blog PEP ME UP

 Ever since then, the diabetes online community has been a huge part of my life. I’ve met so many inspiring people and made really great friends. Knowing that I’m not alone, that I’m part of something bigger, gives me a daily boost of  motivation. That is why I devote a lot of time and energy to the diabetes online community – by writing about my experiences on my blog, creating fun or helpful products for my little shop, advocating for patients and representing them at industry meetings or simply by sharing, caring and listening. 

This community has helped me so much and still helps me every day. That’s why I will do whatever I can to support and strengthen it, so that it can help many, many others. Because, as it turns out, the Internet can change your life – it certainly has changed mine.

Follow Stephanie and her adventures on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

Little Lisette – by Carrie Hetherington

Welcome to our second Global Postcard! Today we’re hearing from Carrie Hetherington from New Zealand and how she made living with diabetes a positive journey through being a fierce diabetes advocate. 

I too, like many others, have an annoying cloud called diabetes hanging over my head. It just floats around like my useless pancreas. But yes, I’m about to use that terrible cliché! Mine definitely has a silver lining. 

I was so shy at school, I’d rather slide under my desk than answer a question in class. Look at me now, I’ve been able to travel the world as an advocate and speak to audiences about diabetes. Suddenly I’m thanking those weak beta cells for making me an alpha! After years of hearing children say they wished they were ‘normal’ and hiding their diabetes I decided I wanted to do something about it. Along came my precious creation, Little Lisette. 

The premise of the story is something we can all relate to, young or old. She goes to a birthday party and her worst nightmare comes true, a hypo strikes. She has a choice to make, treat it in public or ignore it and hope it goes away. Despite us shouting through the book at her, she refuses to let her new friends see that she has diabetes.

In the end she faces her fears and discovers that everybody actually wants to know about her glucose tester, they love her just the way she is. Little Lisette gains courage and bravery and it was my hope that the children reading the book do the same. 

After I’d finished the book I decided to take things a step further and teamed up with my friend Adejumo Hakeem. We used all the proceeds to help children with diabetes in his country, Nigeria. It was a winning combination, a reader would be inspired by Little Lisette and subsequently a child in Nigeria would receive diabetes supplies they would otherwise be unable to afford. The process of writing to help others was so rewarding and the feedback we had from both the readers and the children in Nigeria made it all worthwhile. 

Adejumo and I are hoping to continue to help children and adults alike to be courageous and embrace diabetes just as we have. Keep your eyes peeled for the next book… I’m waiting on the final illustrations and feel very excited to share a little blue monster with the world!

Read more about Carrie’s second book here.

20 Years Strong – by Tammy Moran

At Beta Change, we love hearing about what people are doing in their diabetes community to inspire others and to raise awareness of diabetes. Our new section ‘Global Postcards’ will bring these stories to you. Today, we’re hearing from our friend, Tammy Moran, who lives in Perth, Australia.

On Tuesday 11th July, I celebrated my 20th year of living with T1D (woohoo, yay!) I was diagnosed in Christchurch, New Zealand while on a family holiday and was placed on Actrapid and Protophane with doses consisting of 30units and 26units respectively by use of syringes and vials. Oh what delightful times they were 😉 Now I use Lantus (11units) and Apidra (20units maximum) daily, by MDI administration. Glucose monitors have changed significantly and now that I carb count, I can’t even fathom using a basic meter which only tells me my BGL. The profound leaps and bounds that have been achieved in regards to research, technology, language, anti-
discrimination, by-laws and political campaigns is truly inspiring and we need to remember how lucky we are that we are able to live with this disease now and not in the early 1900s, whereby it was a death sentence.

Diabetes: Forever & Always

This is the name of my Facebook page and brand new blog! I started my Facebook page in 2016, after I came home from the IDF World Diabetes Congress in Vancouver, Canada having represented Western Australia. I found that so many people from numerous countries wanted to learn about diabetes in Australia, what I do for a living, and my achievements and activities. I decided to create a page dedicated to exploring these topics and to interact with others around Australia and the world. I post funny memes, quotes, current research trials, future seminars, recalls on products/medications, new research findings and photos of my diabetes journey.

My blog on the other hand was created after many months of truly understanding the concept of blogging, my availability and enticing topics. There are so many blogs out there these days, that it is hard to stand out unless you do something outrageous or risqué. My first blog post – 20 years strong, is about everything that I have learnt in living with this disease and the changes that have occurred. It may sound ho-hum, but go read it. You’ll soon find out that I am quite a ‘black/white, hard facts kinda girl’ and I don’t mince my words.

Perth Diabetes Care (PDC)

My position within PDC is Marketing, Events & Youth Advisory Coordinator. One of the most important sectors to PDC is their small, focus-driven educational events for Health Care Professionals, people living with diabetes and their support team. Thankfully I am able to devise these events with the incredible PDC clinicians and Youth Advisory Committee members. There is nothing better than having a person greet me after an event and tell me how much they learnt, the support they felt within the room and knowing that PDC is a dedicated centre for adults. Being able to learn in person from people with the same disease, or professionals who have a deep passion for it, makes it so much more worthwhile than online learning.