Maggie – Age 13
On October 21, 2013, Maggie had an accident in her third grade classroom. The nurse helped her get cleaned up and gave her a pair of unisex sweatpants to wear for the remainder of the school day. It was mortifying for Maggie. Maggie’s mom was called and the nurse encouraged her to take Maggie to the doctor. It turns out, Maggie had been urgently rushing to bathroom almost every hour for awhile; her mom thought it was most likely a bladder infection. They arrived at the doctor’s office and took the standard urine test. The doctor came back into the room and told them that Maggie had type 1 diabetes (T1D) and she needed to go to the ER immediately.
Maggie’s family had heard of T1D, but it wasn’t on their radar of things to be weary of. A volunteer with JDRF showed up the very first day they were in the hospital and supplied Maggie with a backpack full of diabetes supplies, videos, and educational materials. Maggie and her family were not able to leave the hospital until they learned how to manage type 1 diabetes at home. They quickly learned that there is a lot to learn about living with T1D.
The day Maggie was released from the hospital, her family received their first phone call from a JDRF volunteer. That volunteer checked in with the family several times over the next few months. She answered their questions and offered her support. A big question on the minds of Maggie’s family was, can we still move from the Chicago suburbs to rural Wisconsin? What would that mean for Maggie’s future? Would she still have access to good doctors? Maggie’s doctor reassured them that they would be fine. Her exact words were, “Maggie will have type 1 diabetes the rest of her life whether she spends that time living in the Chicago suburbs or she moves to Africa. She will be able to care for herself and live a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.”
The first year after diagnosis was hard. Each new event brought worry and frustration. For example, Maggie’s first Halloween after being diagnosed, everyone mistakenly believed that Maggie couldn’t have sugar at all. Another time was at Maggie’s first Thanksgiving, when she over-bolused (administered more insulin than was necessary for the number of carbs consumed) dessert and her blood sugar tanked. Each potluck or restaurant visit taught them new ways to count carbs. There was nothing but sleepless nights during the first year–truth be told, there are still many broken nights of sleep spent fighting high and/or low blood sugars. T1D doesn’t rest. Sports, weather, puberty, illness, even the time of day affect Maggie’s resistance to insulin.
Maggie and her family moved to Southwestern Wisconsin less than a year after Maggie’s diagnosis. After the family settled into their new home, they reached out to the JDRF Western Wisconsin Chapter. Maggie and her family attended their first JDRF One Walk and T1D Kids Day event in 2015 and have participated ever since. At both events they were able to talk to different companies about the latest pump technologies. Getting a pump changed Maggie’s life and definitely made living with type 1 diabetes a little easier!
These days Maggie plays soccer, is part of a swim team, rides horses, and enjoys all the activities in life a “normal” teenager would. The only difference is that she has to always be mindful of her blood sugars and have her diabetes supplies close at hand. This year, Maggie was chosen to be a Youth Ambassador for the JDRF Western Wisconsin Chapter and has taken her role very seriously. Truth is, since she was diagnosed at age eight, she has to take everything she does seriously. An increased level of responsibility is side effect of type 1 diabetes, that everyone affected experiences. Maggie does not let T1D slow her down, but we are anxiously awaiting the day when we find a cure so Maggie can have a “normal” life!
Maggie and her family will be participating in the 2018 JDRF One Walk in Madison on Sunday, September 23, 2018. If you want to support Mags Miles, visit her Personal Page. Thank you to Maggie for sharing her story and setting a great example for the T1D community!
If you want to submit a story about your diabetes journey like Maggie, please contact Jen Allen!