15 Years with Type 1 Diabetes

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 12 on September 2, 2001. So tomorrow I am recognizing my fifteen year anniversary with diabetes…also known as my “diaversary.” Here’s why my diaversary is a big deal.

For background, I come from a family where we celebrate every chance we can get (like, every chance.) And after my diagnosis, we looked for ways to “celebrate” my new life to help me see my disease in a positive light. As a matter of fact, I used to recognize my diaversary every month. On the second day of each month, I would take a moment to reflect on where diabetes has taken me in life. And on the half and year markers, my family and friends were always involved in providing a warm wish or even setting up a unique way to celebrate. In a strange way, this attitude of gratitude helped me cope.

When I hit my first decade with diabetes, I decided it was time for a change. By this point, diabetes had become so engrained in who I am that it didn’t need a monthly milestone. It almost got to the point where I felt like I was recognizing my hair color or that I have green eyes. It’s part of me. So while I stopped recognizing it monthly, the years would still be very important milestones for me.

I recognize these milestones because it forces me to pause in the middle of the whirlwind of life to see how far I have come. It allows me to focus on the things I have learned and experienced in my life because of my diabetes and keeps me in a positive head-space.  It also gives me the opportunity to say a special thank you to my support team for their encouragement and care over the years.

A lot has happened in my fifteen years, both with my health and with my life. And what’s interesting is that there isn’t a lot in my life that I can say that I’ve done for fifteen years. Same city? No. Same house? Defintely not.  Same school? No. Same car? Nope. Same…?  The fact that diabetes has been a ride-along in my life for this long makes it feel that much more significant. Here are a few highlights from my last few years with diabetes:

This is my family and the #1 reason that I have thrived with my diabetes. My parents let me know from day one that diabetes would make my life sweeter, and my siblings have always helped me laugh when things feel hard. My brother-in-law and new husband, plus my twin nieces, are the newest family additions and ones who have embraced diabetes since day one. My husband is now my biggest supporter day to day.

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This was my first introduction to the Medtronic team in 2009. I spoke to the company at the “Customer Experience Forum” sharing my views as a loyal MiniMed pumper. I was invited to speak by the Director of Customer Experience, Jeff Anglin, who would become one of my biggest mentors. I still work with him today. After this event, I was hired as an intern here at Medtronic…and the rest is history.

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This is me with my fourth book, Sugar Free Journey documenting my decade with diabetes. This is the latest edition to The Sugar Free Series, four books about the emotions involved in living with diabetes.

Sugar Free Journey

I graduated in 2014 with my Bachelor’s in Kinesiology. Working and going to school at the same time was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but something that makes me extremely proud.

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This is my friend Amanda who I met through the DOC. She has become a very close friend and even came to my wedding! She’s one example of a lifelong friend who I met online because of diabetes.

True Love and Enduring Faith

My twin nieces with their etch-a-sketches…or what they call, their “insulin pumps” trying to be like their Auntie!

InsulinPumps

The JDRF walks are one of the highlights of my year and I am always so proud to walk with the Medtronic team. It is an inspiring reason knowing that everyone is walking for people like me!

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As you can see, diabetes has changed a lot in my life, including bringing great friends into my life and completely altering my career path. My mission is to continue to let people know that life can be sweet with diabetes, and that you should always strive to find ways to live to love your diabetes.

Thank you to the Medtronic Diabetes community and to my friends in the DOC for being such source of support for. I am reminded every day that we are in this together, and that helps put the pep in my step as I keep moving forward. So tell me, do you recognize your diaversary? Why or why not?

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