Why I Walk – Calla’s Crusaders

By Calla Michalski

As a 10-year old in the midst of my parent’s divorce and a protective big sister of 4, my world was turned upside down when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. During a routine 5th grade check-up, my pediatrician told my mom my blood sugar was slightly elevated. The doctor advised my mom to call my dad, get me to eat some sugar and then go to the emergency room. I remember stopping at a diner, eating the biggest piece of cheesecake of my life, and then going to the hospital. At that point, I was just happy to have my parents together, not arguing, and me not having to go to school that day.

The doctors were frantically waiting for us to arrive. I was put in the ER and recall others in the ER who had just been in a car accident. I wondered, “Why I am I here?” What could be so wrong with me that I am in here next to all of this? The doctor drew blood and ran a bunch of tests. They pricked my fingers a million and one times and gave me shots like it was going out of style.

Then, the doctor asked me if I knew what diabetes was? I remember responding, “I’ve heard of it, but I don’t know…” He started to explain to me that my blood sugar level was 630 mg/dL. I had no idea what that meant and was told I would have to take insulin shots multiple times per day and check my blood sugar before each meal for the rest of my life.

I was hospitalized for two weeks and given the training I would need. I was told the stress at home had “triggered” my onset of T1D, since I had no other family history. The doctors would not discharge me until both parents gave me a shot of insulin and learned how to draw it up properly. My mom was hesitant and my dad is needle- phobic; since then, that has been the first, and only, shot either of them has ever given me! (This was 1998 and insulin pumps were new so there was no talk about it yet.)

In 2001, I began to participate in the JDRF One Walk and created my own team called “Calla’s Crusaders.” Our goal is to raise money for funding the advancements in medical research for T1D, improve the lives of those living with T1D, and to hopefully, one day, and find a cure!

My life has changed so much since diagnosis and when I started walking for JDRF. I went to college, got an insulin pump, and met my husband who convinced me to get a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). He was the first person who ever pushed me to take control of my diabetes. Good blood sugar control made it possible for me to deliver healthy twin boys in 2017.

I have continued to support JDRF by participating in not one but two walks per year and have PROUDLY raised over $75,000 for JDRF with my team. The burden of T1D has gotten a little lighter because of JDRF and the research they’ve put into finding a cure and different ways to treat T1D. JDRF has become a big part of my life, and if it weren’t for their research, we wouldn’t have new devices to make our lives and T1D so much easier to manage.

I walk to give back to the community. I walk for those in similar situations who need someone to lean on. I volunteer my time to mentor those who are newly diagnosed, or looking to get pregnant, or just need someone in a similar place.  I also have a YouTube account and Blog that discuss T1D and help others who are in similar situations. I love raising awareness and hearing stories about challenges others encounter managing T1D. I don’t want anyone to feel like they are alone in this battle.

By Calla Michalski