Diagnosis Day Was A Total Relief

When I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, my first feeling was perhaps different than you might expect: relief.

The months leading up to my diagnosis were some of the worst of my life. I had been flying from Washington DC to the West Coast and back on a weekly basis, and I thought the constant red-eyes had finally gotten the best of me. I was battling fatigue, circulation issues, and weight loss, and I could barely get any sleep. I just felt awful. Continue reading

Questions We Ask When We Know A Different Life: Thriving In Peace Corps, Part 5

Michael Bliss wrote a book called The Discovery of Insulin in the early eighties – I read it just before I left for Ukraine. It was terrifying and heartbreaking to learn the stories of T1Ds before insulin, and it was fascinating and enraging to learn about diabetes research, past and present. I have always wondered about the world, and knowing Peace Corps’ medical rules, I wondered about how T1Ds in Ukraine and elsewhere lived. Continue reading

Advocating For T1D in D.C. (10 Actually Exciting Takeaways)

Recently I returned from a whirlwind trip to Washington DC, where I advocated for Type 1 Diabetes with folks from all over the U.S. Our primary mission was to garner support from our state’s (Oklahoma) senators and representatives for the renewal of the Special Diabetes Program, and to cover the JDRF stance on the ACA. I was blown away by many aspects of the trip, and would like to share with you my top 10 takeaways, in countdown form. Continue reading

The Balancing Act (Is It Ever Okay To Sacrifice Control?)

Type 1 diabetes is one of the few diseases that needs to be micromanaged on a daily basis, 24 hours, 7 days a week. There is no holiday, time away, or opportunity to hand over control to someone else for a while.

When you have a personality like mine, this means becoming almost obsessed with the daily management tasks of living with type 1 diabetes. This has many benefits, no doubt: great control, predictable BGLs, and a HbA1c below 6%. Continue reading

Pt. 2, Thriving As A T1D Peace Corps Volunteer: How to Say ‘Insulin Pump’ in Ukrainian

Moncia's Host Family

I arrived in Ukraine with my life packed into two suitcases (one of which was half filled with medical supplies). My first stop as a Peace Corps trainee was an old sanitarium just outside the capital city of Kyiv. There, my group of volunteers had a few buffer days in which Peace Corps became real: we learned which language we would study, where our 10-week language and job training would take place, which other volunteers would be in our 4-5 person training ‘cluster’, and we filled out a lot of paperwork. This is also where I had to decide how and to whom I would tell about my diabetes. Continue reading

Part 1: Never Forget A Backup Plan (Thriving in Ukraine in the Peace Corps)

PeaceCorps and Type 1 Diabetes

I was diagnosed with type 1 when I was thirteen. Shortly after, a fellow traveler broke it down for me: you can either control your diabetes or you can let it control you. A rabble rouser froma young age, I decided quickly that if those were my choices, I’d choose option A. At the time, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to make that decision each day, but gradually it helped me develop a personality trait I see in a lot of folks with type 1: we love a challenge, and we love to prove people wrong. When I decided to be a Peace Corps Volunteer, I went into it with that same bullheaded mentality that had been an almost constant companion since diagnosis.
Continue reading

Venturing Into Uncharted Vegan Territory… And Lower Insulin Levels | Amy McKinnon, A Plant-Based T1D Runner, World Traveler, and Yogi | Real Life Diabetes Podcast 19

Vegan Type 1 Diabetes Podcast

Don’t they always say that Instagram brings people together? Actually, no, we’ve never heard anybody say that, but the rule applies when you’re vegan and have type 1 diabetes. Amy McKinnon, an Aussie originally, quit her job a few months back to explore the world, traveling the likes of Cuba, Peru, Mexico, and Ecuador. She and Ryan “met” on Instagram, probably while admiring each other’s photos of papaya or something strange of the sort. She too has felt the transformative power of a plant-based diet and joined us to share her own experiences with a vegan lifestyle. For fun—and honestly we mean this—she loves to go for casual 10 mile jogs. If you’ve ever been intrigued with the marathon running life but aren’t sure how to get started, she’ll tell us how to make it happen.
Continue reading

5 Strategies To Survive New Holiday Traditions With Strangers

Thanksgiving Dinner Guest

I’m always down for a road trip so when I was invited to Austin to share Thanksgiving with new friends, I starting packing my bags. I met Lisa and her family in Hawaii and spent a number of evenings with the Thomas family. I even attended her daughter’s wedding, so driving a few hours for Thanksgiving was a no-brainer.

As the departure date approached, I felt the anxiety creep in. I was excited to see everyone, but nervous to spend 72 hours in someone’s home I barely knew. We had discussed my diabetes so they were familiar with me testing my BG and shooting up, but a wave of insecurity came over me.

  • What if I can’t eat what they’re serving?

Continue reading

You Can’t Stop The Waves But You Can Learn To Surf… With Diabetes

.

(Ryan is not currently scanning the coast but the pathophysiology of asthma. Authored July 2015.)

Let it be known: I am not a real surfer, yet. Can I swim? Aptly enough. Can I catch a wave? Yes. Can I stand up? Occasionally. Can I turn? Sure.

That said, as I scan a nice break off the coast of Maui, humbled is my main qualification. Surfing is an art honed through decades of work in salty water, watching the sun rise and descend on opposite horizons, all on the same day. I have observed real surfers. Those who are the art and the religion–no separation between their body and the waves, riding the earth’s energy. Gorgeous stuff.

Having paddled out now over 30 times, blood sugar themes do their emerging thing, and I know what to expect. In many ways, I’ve found surfing to be a simpler, more-straightforward cause and effect relationship between movement and glucose levels (compared to running or cycling). Continue reading

Can One Hotel’s “Superfood” Campaign Be Legitimately Healthy? My Blood Sugar Says So.

SuperFoods2

A monumental girl’s weekend was being planned and while on hold with The Westin Stonebriar Hotel & Golf Club, the recording boasted superfood options. It made me think – is this just another marketing ploy? After traveling extensively over the past couple of months, I’ve picked up a few buzz-words hotels and resorts are using to lure guests.

I dropped my bags at the door and couldn’t wait to do a little investigating. What were they offering and how were they marketing it to the general public? Low and behold, the first page of the In-Dining Menu options read, “Maintain a healthy lifestyle on the road with our nutrient-rich and delicious SuperFoodsRx™ dishes. The following page actually listed 25+ super foods with a brief description.

SuperFoods Continue reading