Hannah – Age 33
My name is Hannah and I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at the age of eleven, almost twenty-two years ago. When I was growing up, having T1D made me feel like I was the odd one out. For example, I would often be late for gym class, because I had to check my blood sugar and have a snack if needed. Or other times people thought that my insulin pump was actually a pager. Then came the times when I was feeling sick and my blood sugars were off. Having T1D while being sick can make it difficult to control your blood sugar levels because it is hard to tell if you are feeling “off” because you are actually sick, or if you are feeling sick due to having a high/low blood sugars. My T1D didn’t just affect me, though. I remember nights when I would accidentally take the wrong type of insulin (some types are fast-acting and affect your blood sugars rapidly while others are long-acting and take longer to affect your blood sugar), which meant that I would have to wake up multiple times during the night to test my blood sugar to make sure I was alright, something that my parents had to help with. It was difficult growing up in a small town, with the nearest type 1 diabetes support group being forty-five minutes away. With all of those obstacles to overcome, having an insulin pump did make it a little easier to live a more “normal” life.
A whole new set of concerns came when I left for college. Knowing that it was going to be tough trying to find a career that would offer health insurance as a benefit since I had T1D was a scary thought. With the rising cost of insulin, test strips and insulin pump supplies, being self-employed was not an option for me. At one point, I had about a six-month gap when I was forced off of my parent’s insurance, and before I could get on my own. I had to buy my insulin one bottle at a time and did not manage my diabetes the way that I should have been because I could not afford it. Even with good health insurance today, it is still a few thousand dollars a year to afford the insulin and other supplies necessary to manage my diabetes and keep myself alive.
One of my greatest inspirations has been my dad, Steve, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of eighteen. He taught me to persevere, and to not let having diabetes stop me from doing anything that I wanted to do. My dad and I would have competitions to see who would have the better blood sugar readings before meals or who would have the better A1C (An A1C test is a blood test that reflects your average blood glucose levels over the past 3 months). I would always talk to dad about all the new things happening in the world of diabetes, because he understood it more being that he was also diabetic. Even my mom would spend many long days and nights with both my dad and I, as she was being caretaker to two people with diabetes. My dad fought a forty-four-year battle and near the end when his health was declining, he taught me the true meaning of strength. I was fortunate enough to have my dad walk me down the aisle at my wedding, but unfortunately, he is not around to be able to meet his soon to be grandchild.
My husband, Josh, and I are expecting our first child in April. Whether or not to have a child was a difficult decision for us to make, because of my diabetes. Being a type 1 diabetic means that my pregnancy is considered high risk, and that means that we have more frequent office visits with OBGYN, more ultrasounds, and an increased level of care/appointments all around. The positive part of all the extra medical attention is that we get to see and hear our unborn child more often than most parents do!
I have had my ups and downs over the years. However, if having diabetes has taught me anything, it has taught me to have strength and perseverance. Each year I try to celebrate my Diabetic Anniversary or “Diaversary” either by having a party or going to eat, because I am always thankful for another year of being healthy. If given the chance, I would not live my life without T1D because without it, I would not have met some of the incredible people that have come into my life (this is especially true with the JDRF Ride to Cure). I hope that one day a cure is found not only for myself but for my unborn child, if they are diagnosed, and also for everyone else living with or would have lived with type 1 diabetes!
Hannah and her husband, Josh, both participate in the JDRF Ride to Cure. If you would like to support either of them for the 2019 season, visit their personal fundraising pages. Thank you to Hannah and her family for sharing their story and setting a great example for the T1D community!
If you want to submit a story about your diabetes journey like Hannah, please contact Jen Allen!