Where can people find out more about you?
What is your title/job/activity?
Wife and mother to three daughters, registered nurse, diabetes advocate, Pancreatic CEO in Partnership with T1 Tween, Gluten Contaminate Referee
Please provide us with a two sentence overview of yourself.
I’m a work-at-home mother who is constantly multi-tasking in order to balance type 1 diabetes and celiac disease with the needs of my family while striving to maintain a nursing career. I find joy in simple things...such as my children’s artwork, an empty dishwasher, and a blood glucose level of 123 mg/dL
What age and year were you diagnosed?
My daughter, Addy, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 2 in July 2005. She was also diagnosed with celiac at age 5 in 2008 and more recently a patch of alopecia in 2014 - that’s three autoimmune issues (Enough already).
What type of insulin pump do you use?
Addy wears an Animas OneTouch Ping®
Give us a fun fact about yourself!
I (Wendy) took a few years of professional voice lessons and loved performing throughout high school and college. These days, I rock out in my minivan like. a. boss. Also, Addy has advocated for diabetes interests with lawmakers at both the state level in Arizona and the national level in Washington, D.C. She was also one of the first children under age 12 to wear the Bionic Pancreas when she participated in a clinical trial while at diabetes camp in 2014.
Why did you choose an Animas® insulin pump?
I chose the pump because of all of the great features it has. It's waterproof, it has the ability to give micro basil/bolus increments of dosage whenever I need it, and it comes with a meter remote so that I can control the amount of insulin I get. The best parts about it are that even without the meter remote, I can still bolus from the pump should I lose or not have access to it, and it displays the insulin on board so I know if I'm running low or need more.
Why do you like being a nurse?
I like fast pace nursing positions. I worked in the ER, PACU, and L&D before settling into my current position doing pediatric telephone triage where I take afterhours calls for 50 pediatric practices across the state of AZ. To sum it up, I like helping all kinds of people.
What was your life like before an insulin pump?
Before the insulin pump, Addy had terrible low blood sugars that caused her to randomly lose consciousness and hit her head. Diagnosed only three weeks after her 2nd birthday, she was still learning how to communicate in general, let alone how to alert me when she was feeling low.
She often required doses of insulin that were so small, it was impossible to accurately draw them into a syringe. These episodes of hypoglycemia were sudden, unpredictable, and seemed impossible to eliminate regardless of what interventions we coordinated with her endocrinology team. As her mother, I lived in a state of constant alertness on guard for the next episode. I was fearful that she could die or suffer long-term consequence as the result of the effects severe hypoglycemia on her growing brain, repeated head injuries from bumping her head when she lost consciousness, or both. Her A1c remained in the mid to high 8’s during this time.
The ability to fine tune basal rates, meal ratios, and correction factors was a game-changer for us. The micro-precision insulin dosing offered by the insulin pump literally revolutionized our journey. I’m pleased to report the pump stopped those episodes of hypoglycemia in their tracks, and her A1c has remained under 7.5% in the eight years since.
What are the main challenges with living with type 1 diabetes?
As a parent, one of my biggest challenges is that I’m not living inside her body. I can’t feel what she’s feeling or respond to internal cues that could indicate a need for intervention. Instead I’m on the sidelines, constantly trying to coach her, but never really knowing everything that’s happening on the playing field.
Other challenges include the ongoing financial burden imposed by needing a plethora of medical supplies; and the mental exhaustion that stems from constantly balancing her current glucose level with a multitude of previous, real-time, and impending variables which can affect it.
What advice would you give to others your age, who are newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes?
From Addy: “Always check your blood sugar when you feel like something is wrong, and keep your diabetes supplies with you all the time. Don’t feel embarrassed by your diabetes. If other people don’t seem to understand, you can help them learn. You can still do awesome things, so don’t let diabetes stop you from going after your dreams!”
From Wendy: To other parents who are sitting in the aftermath of shock and uncertainty following their child’s T1 diagnosis...you are not alone. Many parents travel this road alongside you. Find them. They will listen to you and understand the trials and victories that are yet to come. Learn everything you can, but remember you don’t have to learn it all at once. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Believe in yourself and your child as you both learn to overcome unique challenges of living with type 1 diabetes.