Today I had the honor of speaking with Sarah Dutcher who has lived with Type 1 diabetes since she was 11 years old. She’s never let it take over her life or become the centerpiece of it. Instead, she takes things in stride and moves forward in a positive manner.
First off, what type of diabetes do you have? We have readers with all types, so it’s important to talk about this first.
I am type 1.
How were you made aware that you had diabetes? Please share your diagnosis story with our readers.
I was eleven years old, I had just gotten back from babysitting and my dad was on the phone. He hung up the phone and sat me down and told me I was diabetic. Prior to that I had blood work done because I was sick a lot, I had experienced side pain that felt like a stabbing sensation, and I was peeing a lot which is normal because of the high blood sugar. The reason my mom got me to get blood work done was because I had lost 30 pounds in a two months time and I was losing hair. The blood work came back and my blood sugar was 330. I was told to get to the hospital rite away.
We’re all curious, even if we live the life, everyone is different, what is a typical day like for you?
My typical day, I wake up and check my sugar in the bathroom lol. I bolus if its to high. I get ready for work and usually grab something to eat on the way to work. Usually a sausage egg and cheese muffin. I work for 8 hour shifts and I go home. I test about four times a shift on the two hour breaks and my lunch. I lead a pretty boring life lol.
Describe the one scariest moment since your diagnosis.
I haven’t had to many scary moments that naturally have happened. They are usually self-caused. I once took to much insulin and went so low I passed out and I have had times where I have been in dka because I didn’t take my insulin or I ran out.
Living with a chronic illness can be overwhelming, how do you cope with the constant battle of trying to maintain a proper balance with your blood sugars?
I don’t cope very well with my blood sugars. It has caused a lot of mental instability that requires me to be on meds to take care of my anxiety and depression from the type 1. When I do accept that I have to take care of it I cope by trying to be as positive as I can. I try to remember that people need a good example of someone with this disease and I should try to be that good example.
If you could give one tip to someone newly diagnosed what would it be?
That you are not invincible, you need your medicine, it will be hard, but you have control over what you do with the diabetes, how you treat it and how you represent it.
What is the most challenging aspect to you, in living with diabetes?
The most challenging thing for me is food, I live with something called diabulimia, which is an eating disorder directly related to the diabetes. Someone with diabulimia restricts their insulin to lose weight. It is very unsafe and has caused a lot of issues physically and mentally for me.
What was your reaction when you found out you had diabetes?
I didn’t really understand what was going on, my parents had told me I was diabetic and I had to go to the hospital. At age eleven you don’t fully comprehend that. I remember saying to them well at least it isn’t cancer. A few hours later it hit me what was going on and I broke down crying in the shower.
What was hardest for you and your family — emotionally? Or financially?
I believe it was harder financially than emotionally for my family. My little sister used to get upset that my parents would spend all the money on me (my medications, and supplies) that if my sister wanted stuff she wouldn’t be able to get it because of me.
How often do you have to test your glucose levels?
I test between four and six times a day.
What insulins have you used or do you currently use?
I have used all types of insulin from nph to novolog, lantus and currently I am on humalog.
What would you like people who have diabetes to know?
To lighten up a little bit, I see a lot of people who get really upset over comments, but the people who make the comments don’t always understand, education is key and friendliness helps a lot in educating.
Who do you get support from? Who treats you?
I see a lot of doctors, I have a nutritionist, a therapist, physiatrist, and endocrinologist, I see my physician regularly and talk with him. I have known all my doctors for many years and they listen to me and help me a lot with dealing with this disease.
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Let’s conclude on a positive note. I know it can be difficult to find the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you thought really hard, what is one positive thing that diabetes has brought to your life?
I believe in god, and my religion believes we choose our trials prior to coming to earth, I know that is a hard pill to swallow. But if I had not become diabetic I would not be in a career path I love and I would not be as educated as I am. I want to help children and run my own day care center, I plan to take my social work degree and work in the hospitals in pediatrics and direct a center directed toward specialty care for children. This disease has given me a passion and I know if I can handle this I can handle anything.