When were you diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes?
I was just seven months old when I was diagnosed with T1 so can’t remember anything about it. However, I’m told I was a very poorly baby when I was taken to the children’s hospital A&E department. The on call GP hadn’t been able to diagnose what the problem was so made sure we went to hospital. On arrival at A&E I was losing consciousness and my outward symptoms suggested a problem with my respiratory system. It was the routine blood glucose check, carried out on every newly admitted patient, that revealed the true diagnosis, which was made within 20 minutes of me arriving at the hospital. I then spent 36 hours in intensive care before being moved onto a ward for 4 days. Once on the ward my parents were taught how to mix the two insulins I needed together in a syringe and how to inject that mix into me twice a day. They were also taught how to check my bloods using the heel of my foot as my fingers were too small to use.
Why did you choose an Animas insulin pump?
My parents made the decision to get me an insulin pump and I had my first pump when I had just turned 1. They loved the fact that they could now give me the very tiny amounts of insulin I needed and better manage my T1 as a result of that. I was still a baby, but Mummy says she could tell I loved pumping insulin as I began to be a very giggly, busy baby again once I had my pump. She had never seen me so full of mischief and she loved the fact I seemed to be full of energy again.
I helped choose my second pump, which was the Animas® 2020. I was 4 then, and I wanted that pump because it was pink! Mummy thought the waterproof feature of the pump would be the best thing of all and was also really pleased that it was half the size of the first pump! I now use an Animas® Vibe® Insulin Pump, and have left my pink phase behind me. Its green and I use it together with the Dexcom CGM, which I love as it has given me more control and independence in my management of my T1.
How did your Animas insulin pump change your life?
Mummy says pumping gave our whole family back a lot of flexibility. When I had been on two injections a day, Mummy says there was a very rigid timetable to every day. I would need breakfast at 7am, lunch at 12noon, dinner at 6pm and snacks at 10am and 3pm. That meant lots of organisation and clock watching. It also meant a big change for my big sister too as this routine was imposed on the whole family. Once pumping, however, our lives changed back to being more relaxed and spontaneous. I was no longer able to get Mummy to make me lots of different meals if I didn’t like the look of what was on the family table - because she knew my basals were correct and if I didn’t like the menu now, I wouldn’t eat! I quickly became much less fussy with my food!!
I love my pump - I can’t remember life before one or imagine my life without one. I do lots of performing - singing, dancing and acting - and my pump helps to make my T1 more straightforward to manage for me. My cgm helps me manage adrenalin highs when performing, meaning I can focus on what I’m doing, not what my blood glucose readings (BGs) are!
What sport do you practice, and how has the Animas® Vibe® Insulin Pump had an impact on exercise for you?
I do a lot of dancing, swimming, rookie life saving and cycling and not nearly as much horse riding as I’d like! Each sport needs a different way of managing my BGs, but I’ve learnt a lot on how to do this using my CGM trace too. I always have to make sure I check my BGs whilst I’m doing the things I love, but mostly now, its second nature and just something I include in the activities without really thinking about it now.
What are your main day-to-day challenges with living with Type 1 diabetes and how do you cope with them?
I have to remember to be organised which is my biggest challenge! Especially remembering not to leave my meter at school! And to tell Mummy when I’m running low on diabetes kit at school. I may not always remember to do this! Luckily Mummy still keeps track of all my diabetes kit, making sure all my prescriptions and bits for my pump are in the cupboard.
What would you say to someone who has heard your story, also lives with Type 1 diabetes and now wants a challenge of their own?
Go for it! It doesn’t matter how big or small the challenge - just go for it. It’s the best feeling in the world when you achieve that goal!
What advice would you give someone who has just been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes?
Make friends with your pharmacist. And meet or talk (maybe through social media) to other people with T1. They will understand all the things you are going through and will support you as you learn new things.