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Jessica Managing Medication

Pump Love

Jessica discusses her appreciation for insulin pump technology.

 

Amber, 12, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2009 when she was nine. She has used her experience with diabetes as a personal journey of education and empowerment for herself and others. Her younger brother was diagnosed with Type 1 several years before she was, when he was two years old, so Amber had a working knowledge of what it might mean to be diagnosed at such a young age.

Since her diagnosis she has embarked on a path of diabetes advocacy through performance. She has written a song about diabetes and a book, which she also illustrated.

Carlos, 64, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1992. At first, he couldn’t get it through his head that he had diabetes; he describes wanting to do what he wanted to do, regardless of how it would affect his health. Once he settled into his diagnosis, he realized that he did not want the severe side effects of mismanaged diabetes, like amputation or complete loss of eyesight. He started changing little things at a time, starting with his eating habits, which helped him handle the challenges of diabetes management better.

Carlos credits his wife for her great support and encouragement to stay on track. He also enjoys exercise as keeping him going and keeping his blood sugars at good levels.

Dave, 37, was diagnosed in 2010 with Type 2 diabetes. His initial response was to “freak out” and enter, as he describes it, a state of bewilderment and shame. He felt embarrassed, humbled, and scared. He avoided thinking about it, taking the medications only as something he had to do but never checking his blood sugar. He has been in and out of the hospital, and he now works hard to master his diabetes and not succumb to fear.

While he understands and knows the value in eating right, taking his medications, and staying on top of it all, he also knows that he is vulnerable to fatalistic thinking. He is still building a solid support network; some people have been helpful, and some have not, and he recognizes the negative impact a weak support system can have on his health and morale.

Donald, 52, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2008. He describes his diagnosis as “shocking” with an adjustment period that was very difficult and a life change. After his diagnosis, he entered a state of denial where he just told himself that he was going to be fine. However, as he adjusted to his new reality, he noticed that his diabetes was getting worse. He made the clear choice to take control of his treatment.

Now, he manages his diabetes well in ways that allow him to live well with his diabetes. He sees the positives in his diagnosis; for example, he gratefully credits diabetes for helping to turn his eating habits around.

Elizabeth, 50, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1994. She describes her life with diabetes as a daily – sometimes hourly — balancing act. With her background in physical therapy care-giving, Elizabeth feels confident in her ability to manage her diabetes well. She does find that she has different questions, being on the patient side of the doctor-patient interaction. She used to worry about losing a limb, but now, her concerns center on the increased possibility of a heart attack or stroke as she gets older.

Elizabeth feels like her diabetes management has become a good and steady habit. She speaks positively about the role of counseling, both informal and formal, in her diabetes management.

Gene, 58, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2008. He is a very unusual case in that he solely uses lifestyle approach to manage his diabetes. He considers himself an old-fashioned guy who doesn’t like taking many pills. When he was diagnosed, he knew his life wasn’t over, but he also understood that he had to do something to improve his situation. He worked hard to make dietary changes and lost 60 pounds.

Seeing his grandchildren grow up and graduate from high school is one important motivation for managing his diabetes. He also finds inspiration in new hobbies that support his healthy lifestyle changes, like gardening and growing his own vegetables.

Jessica, 25, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1993 when she was 6 years old. She became very ill and went into a coma before her diabetes was discovered. She is now on the insulin pump and is having success with her medications, which is significant because her body has rejected insulin many times. Two years ago, Jessica was diagnosed with neuropathy, and describes herself a “young person in an old person’s body.” Complications are a very real concern for her, especially since they have shown up so early in life.

Despite the odds, she has two children and keeps a positive attitude about treating her diabetes so that she can continue to care for her children. She considers diabetes “one of her best friends,” since it has been a part of her life for so long, and will be with her for the rest of her life.

Luke, 17, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1999 when he was 4 years old. He is quiet about his diabetes with both his parents and his friends. As a child, he was on top of his management, but with time, he admits that it’s gotten harder to keep up with it and take care of himself. He talks about how his diabetes has affected his entire family, especially around making healthier choices in food and lifestyle.

At first, Luke wondered why he had to have diabetes, but he eventually understood that even though he couldn’t change the fact, he could take care of himself.

Orvie Longhorn is different from the other Diabetes Agents. He views his diabetes as yet another challenge to overcome as a Native American. Aside from actual battles in Vietnam, he has battled racism, alcoholism and various medical problems in his life. He worries that diabetes and poor health are almost inevitable for young Native Americans because their modern lifestyles have strayed so far from traditional eating and health habits. Ultimately, he believes that each person's destiny lies in their spiritual health and resiliency.

Priscilla, 61, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2002. She speaks openly about her struggles with diabetes, depression, and finding treatment that worked for her. She has struggled with finding the right medications, relationships with doctors, losing weight, and changing her dietary habits.

She finally saw changes in her test results when she found medication that worked for her. She finds hope in stories of relatives who lived with diabetes into their 90s.

Sarah, 34, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2011. She went into total shock and couldn’t believe that it was possible. She has been vegan for the better part of her live, is an active participant in roller derby, and is extremely healthy. She felt cheated by her diagnosis because, in her words, she had done “everything right.” She was bewildered and anxious. Meeting with a grief group has helped her cope with the sadness of being diagnosed.

Sarah’s partner is also living with Type 1 diabetes; she was diagnosed 16 years ago, when she was 19 years old. She speaks about the positives and negatives of this, as they are in different coping and management phases and they each require different techniques.

Zac, 17, was diagnosed in 2003 at the age of 8 with Type 1 diabetes. Zac is at a pivotal stage with his diabetes management. He is about to graduate from high school and will be moving out of his parents’ home. This transition will require a new level of self-management as Zac moves to a new phase of independence as young adult. Zac has a strong support network, including his family, doctors, and friends and enjoys educating others about diabetes.

Zac feels confident about managing his diabetes, even as he is nervous about being on his own for the first time.

Managing Medication: Many people, including those with diabetes, have chemical imbalances in their bodies that, if left untreated, will have a negative impact on their health and possibly the quality of their life. People with diabetes have problems breaking down the foods they eat into glucose, which the body needs to fuel itself. In addition, many people with diabetes also have trouble with the fat levels in their blood and with their blood pressure. Fortunately, there are many very effective medications that can correct these problems — if you take them. The simple concept is that medicines only can help you if you take them. Just like any out-of-balance system, you can restore more normal functioning if you replace the imbalances in your body’s chemistry. Some people find that taking medication is the hardest part of managing their diabetes. Experts often advise integrating the medication into your daily routine or habits, but this can be harder than it sounds. These links and videos can offer concrete tips that will make your life easier as you manage your medication.

Working with Health Care Providers: Talk to your doctor if… Ask your doctor about… Discuss with your doctor before… You hear this everywhere you turn. It might be annoying, you might tune it out, but the truth is that even though it sounds simplistic, this is one of the most crucial steps you can take to gain control over your diabetes management plan. Talking to your doctor makes a huge difference in your metabolic status and your quality of life. Sure, there are hundreds of tools available to create a personalized plan that satisfies your needs, but if you don’t talk honestly with your doctor, you might never benefit from them. Be willing to engage your health care providers in honest and meaningful discussion. They can’t read your mind. They’re likely going to focus on the disease, but, as you know, sometimes you need more than just that. Health care providers can be valuable members of your support system. The only silly question is the one that you don’t ask. Your doctors will almost always welcome input – what might seem silly to you, might provide very important information for your doctor. You are worth the time and effort it takes to talk with your health care providers, and so is your health. This website offers a wealth of tools to help you prepare and plan what to say to your health care providers.

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Jessica’s Story Jessica Support Systems and Social Issues Jessica Engaging in Exercise Jessica Coping with Diagnosis Jessica Dealing with Diet Jessica Monitoring Glucose Jessica’s Concerns for the Future

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