I have lived with type 1 diabetes for as long as I can remember. I had just turned two when I was diagnosed, and although I’m sure it was difficult for me as a toddler, it was much harder for my parents. They had to manage my blood sugars using tools that were much more challenging than those we use today.
As I got older, they started going to family diabetes camps and saw the importance of knowing other families going through the same thing we were. Fast forward to the start of the internet which connected everyone who had access to the world wide web, and my dad decided to try and take advantage of this new form of communication. He launched Children with Diabetes to help connect families so we could all help each other.
The early days of the Children with Diabetes website can best be described as a combination of social media before it existed (chat rooms, forums, email lists), and accurate information about diabetes in kids, which was hard to come by. Then we started having the Friends for Life conferences thanks to Laura Billetdeaux, who invited other families to meet near Disney World in Orlando for a family diabetes vacation in the summer of 2000.
Growing up immersed in this world of diabetes empowered me to advocate for myself and what I wanted in my diabetes care, as opposed to just doing what the doctor suggested. It also showed me how much I could help other people who have a family member with diabetes, or have diabetes themselves, simply by being supportive and giving them the knowledge I had gained from my life experience.
I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had throughout my life thanks to my parents, for the health that I still have despite growing up with diabetes in a pre-CGM world, and the ability to help other people living with diabetes. I have become a nurse, a diabetes educator, and have worked in many different ways in the diabetes community. I have two children, a rescue dog, and I am living as much of a “normal life” as most people.
I hope everyone with diabetes gets the opportunity to live whatever life they want, and feel empowered and supported, as I have.
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