My Evolution in Diabetes Care

By Libby Russell

My Evolution in Diabetes Care

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at a tough age. I was in my peak teenage years, an athlete, in the process of applying to colleges and overall I was very resistant to change.

I distinctly remember glazing over during many an appointment with CDEs, nutritionists, and endocrinologists. Being receptive to so much new information all at once was very overwhelming, and understandably, I needed time to process everything before proceeding with a complete overhaul with my lifestyle.

One of the hardest parts about a diabetes diagnosis isn’t always the physical change of having to take medication daily, or even the routine change of having to prick your finger or pay attention to food. It’s the mental and emotional challenge of accepting that you are now a part of a “club” of people you never knew you’d be a part of. None of us ever wanted to become diabetic; type 1, 2, gestational or the grey area in between.

So, when faced with decisions about our care, it takes work to accept that there’s even a good reason to make changes to begin with.

Give yourself time

My diabetes care started slow and simple. I took everything in strides and tried a few different things at first to try and adapt to a lifestyle that felt sustainable to me. I started out taking shots with insulin pens (Novolog and Lantus) while keeping various meters in every bag I owned to protect myself against the inevitable diabetes brain (aka forgetfulness).

I did this for nearly 6 years. Why? Because it was enough. I was able to keep my A1c in a healthy enough range that no medical professional or family member felt the need to pressure me into anything different.

Then one day, I woke up and was suddenly ready for the next step. I had wrapped my head around the basics and was ready to take things on a little more robustly. But what was important was that I made that decision on my own, without putting myself in harm's way to get there. 

Lean on the community

At the time I was diagnosed, there was very little community or coaching for me to lean on to gauge what people were doing for insulin therapy. I was young, and I wanted my diabetes to be as invisible as possible but knew that was no longer sustainable.

So, when I decided I was ready to get a little tighter with my control, I did some basic research online by reading personal blogs of people living with diabetes. Having some peer-to-peer consulting was super helpful in making my decision because I felt like I was making a more personal decision. Now, with organizations like Cecelia Health and more, there are tons of ways to get the consultation you need before making any big leaps. 

Keep an open mind

There was a point in my life where I said “never” quite often. I thought for certain there’d be a cure long before I committed to lugging around an insulin pump or continuous glucose monitor, but alas, biotech has moved faster than cure research.

After 15 years with diabetes, I’ve evolved from syringes to shots to a Medtronic pump to an Omnipod and now I’m even considering looping. I even have the latest and greatest from Dexcom, the G6. I haven’t pricked my finger in nearly 2 weeks. I’ve also experimented with diets and exercise to find a comfortable place that works best for my energy levels, weight and overall health.

If you’d asked me 15 years ago, I could never have predicted where I am now. And though I’ve been resistant to change, I’ve learned to never say never. There are really smart people out there doing incredible work to make our lives with diabetes safer and easier, and when good ideas come around, learn more about them!

Do what’s right for you

Just because there’s lots of flashy technology out there to help with your diabetes care, that doesn’t mean that the latest and greatest is what’s best for YOU. I believe whole-heartedly in doing what makes you happiest, healthiest and most independent. I am not a huge tech geek and get easily overwhelmed by too many buttons, apps, beeps and vibrations, so I have to simplify sometimes to restore my sanity. And, when I do this, I focus on big picture things like better nutrition to take a more holistic approach to my diabetes care.

With diabetes, we’re often put outside of our comfort zone, and it’s a lot of work to keep your numbers in the right place. Just keep your optimum health and wellness goals in mind, and let your conscience be your guide!

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Orignially published on August 2, 2019, updated on August 02, 2019

Topic: Lifestyle

Libby Russell

About Libby Russell

Libby Russell is the creator of the type 1 diabetes lifestyle brand and shop, I Have the Sugars, and the in-house copywriter for a NYC-based fitness tech company. You can find her exploring Brooklyn on the weekends, designing her latest collections for www.ihavethesugars.com, and on Instagram at @ihavethesugars.