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

How I Thrived as a T1D Peace Corps Volunteer (Pt. 4): For a Good Time, Call a Pharmacist

doner-in-turkey

I spent an unnatural amount of time trying to start this post – wondering how I’d weave the tale of diabetes supplies lost and broken during my two-year stint in Ukraine. Looking back on a few instances, I could have done a number of things better or differently to improve an outcome or expedite solutions. However, I didn’t. In a previous post, I mentioned my “diabetes doesn’t control my life” mantra. I’m proud of my how I control my T1D, but I’m sure I’ve managed to terrify several medical professionals with my “put some duct tape on it” approach to T1D troubleshooting. I can’t help it! Continue reading

How I Thrived as a T1D Peace Corps Volunteer (Part 3): Two Fists of Potatoes

making-varenyks_ukraine

When I received my invitation to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine, it included a primer on life in Ukraine, with general information on history, geography, transportation, culture and a small section on food. It should come as no surprise to other PWD, but I have a sometimes wonderful and sometimes dangerous relationship with food. The information shared they’re heavy on meat and vegetables, with seasonal access to produce, and the majority of grocery shopping is done in open air bazaars and small shops. This was helpful, but didn’t minimize my anxiety when it came to carbohydrate counting or questions about glucose tab availability. 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.
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