Jamie Langbein, of Brookeville, MD, was too young to even remember the day when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at two years old, but it was a day her parents will never forget.
“My parents took me to a local doctor. They originally thought it was just a virus, and told them to take me to the hospital if things got worse. Eventually it did and I was rushed to the emergency room,” said Jamie.
In 1997, it wasn’t customary to take a blood sugar reading on a patient. Jamie’s condition continued to worsen over the next day or two. “It got so bad that I ended up getting a flight for life to Children’s Hospital in DC. I was pretty much in a coma at that point. At Children’s, the doctors informed my parents that I had T1D, but before they could address the diabetes they first had to get my heart and liver functions back to normal levels. After a week, I was finally released,” said Jamie.
From then on, Jamie grew up with a feeling that she was slightly different than her peers. “I remember adults telling me I was more responsible than other children, something I attribute to the fact that diabetes made me grow up so quickly. I didn’t want my mom following me everywhere, so I had to figure out how to take care of myself,” said Jamie.
A natural born athlete, skier and explorer, Jamie excelled in multiple sports before going on to attend Randolph-Macon College, majoring in Environmental Studies and playing on the Women’s Lacrosse team during her four years of study.
After graduation in 2017, Jamie moved to Montana to work in Yellowstone National Park collecting information for a scientific study. “I was hoping to find work there for the winter, but when I learned there were few opportunities during the season, I looked into ski instructing in Vail. I grew up skiing and had a ton of experience working with kids, so I packed up my car once I was offered the position and moved myself down to Colorado, “said Jamie.
“I usually have about 5 minutes to myself the whole time I’m working at ski school, so getting my sugars set for the day is a must. Throughout the day, I’m constantly checking my watch, the Dexcom transmitting to my Apple Watch is my savior. I actually think the Apple Watch is one of the best pieces of technology for diabetes management out there, behind only the insulin pump and the CGM,” said Jamie.
According to Jamie, diabetes management has been a 22-plus years work in progress. “It’s a constant regime of planning ahead: Do I have enough insulin left in my pump or do I need to pack a site change? Is my sensor working reliably? Do I have enough test strips? Is everything fully charged so I can get my Dexcom readings all day? Food and sugar for later? Extra food if I want to go to the gym? I’m always making sure that I have the right tools to keep myself going,” said Jamie.
When it comes to advice for those newly diagnosed with T1D, Jamie says you can’t let it stop you from being yourself.
“With time, management, and proper support, you can do anything you want to. Yes, you are a person with diabetes, but you are a person first.”