Hello! My name is Rachel Thompson, and I’ve been living with Type 1 Diabetes since I was six years old. Today I want to just introduce myself a bit and tell my story with Type 1, so maybe some people reading this can resonate. I am currently a junior at the University of Texas at Austin, and I am on my way to getting a degree in Psychology. I’m passionate about mental health, and hope to one day work as a licensed professional counselor in a medical setting, such as a hospital or an in-patient care site. I find the intersection of mental health and physical health fascinating, and this stems, partly, from my experiences living with Type 1.
I was still pretty young when I got the diagnosis, so I don’t really remember the transition. I’ve been told it was challenging, but as far as my memory goes, this has always just been a part of my life. I used insulin shots and ate very specific amounts at the same times each day. I remember my friend turning into my diabetes buddy, and I remember my parents struggling through nights for several years. My dad woke up at midnight most nights to come check me, and my mom would wake up at odd hours, filled with anxiety that my blood sugar. At the time, I honestly just accepted life as it was and did not even think about how I could better manage my blood sugar. I just thought that this was life with diabetes.
With age, though, things started to change. When I was ten, I switched to an Animas insulin pump. Suddenly, I didn’t have to go to the nurse all the time, and I didn’t get strange looks when I gave myself insulin in public. I had the freedom go to friends’ houses more often, and even to play several different sports. I absolutely adored my pump, and I felt so much more in control, but my diabetes still felt like a chore. I wrestled with my diabetes care for the next several years and stayed somewhat complacent. I knew that diabetes had to be part of my decisions, but I still did not really see that it was- and is- an inextricable part of the role I play in the world.
When college came around, my parents and I decided that a CGM would be necessary. My Dexcom was such a turning point for me, and now, even just the two hours it takes for a new sensor to calibrate feels wild. I was always better at feeling my low blood sugars than my highs, but the CGM helped me to catch the highs way earlier than I did previously. I got a new endocrinologist who saw me as an adult and put the responsibility of my A1C on me while empowering me to live a more well-rounded lifestyle.
I am now in the process of shifting my mindset from diabetes care as a chore to a choice I make, but it can be more challenging on some days than others. I see some diabetics who take such pride in their blood glucose management, and I hope I get there one day soon. Thanks to the integration of my CGM and pump, I have had some of the lowest A1Cs I’ve ever had, making me feel a bit more confident in myself. Nowadays, instead of being simply open and willing to answer questions, I am excited to inform others when they see the CGM on the back of my arm or wonder what I could possibly be eating during class (aka my glucose tabs). I’m looking forward to continuing along this path!
Thanks for reading!