Life Filled with Passion and Diabetes
5 min reading time
Life Filled with Passion and Diabetes
Who this story is about?
Kelci Brown is 26 years old and lives in Lake Tahoe, CA. She is lucky to live in a place that lets her pursue all of her hobbies and passions. Kelci loves spending time outside rafting, snowboarding, climbing, and scuba diving.
She was kind enough to share her story with us.
First diabetes experience
Dianurse: For how long do you suffer from diabetes?
Kelci: I got diabetes in the spring of 2012, so it will be my 8th diaversary next month!
Dianurse: How did you realize it? How did you start your diabetes journey?
Kelci: Diabetes doesn’t actually run in my family. I got a really bad flu and the virus decided to attack my pancreas. For about a month I was really tired all the time and dropping weight like crazy even though I was eating tons of sugar. It was when we went on a family camping trip to Yosemite that my dad realized something wasn’t right and told me I should head to the doctors; when I went in my bg was a little over 600.
Dianurse: Did you know what diabetes was and how to act with it?
Kelci: When I first got diagnosed I had no idea what diabetes was or what that meant for my future. And unfortunately, my doctor at the time didn’t know how to treat it so I was just told to not consume any carbs for 3 months until I could get an appointment with an endocrinologist. Those first three months were really hard and scared me because I thought that’s what the rest of my life was going to look like.
About biggest fears …
Dianurse: What were your biggest fears at that time?
Kelci: Honestly? My first big fear was the daily injections, I was terrified of needles at the time. There were a lot of tears those first few days. But my main and most persistent fear was if I was going to be able to continue having an active and normal life.
How To Manage Diabetes
Dianurse: What’s the best way to manage diabetes, based on your experience?
Kelci: There have been a few things that have really impacted my diabetes management.
First, finding a diabetes care team that worked with my lifestyle and was supportive was HUGE. This is something that took a long time, a lot of research, and a lot of trial and error for me.
Second, cooking your own food and regular exercise. Knowing what exactly is going into your food so that you can properly carb ratio is so important. I also like that when I make my own food I can better balance my meals so it’s a good mix of protein, fiber-rich veggies, and carbs.
Regular exercise really helps with insulin sensitivity and sanity for me. It doesn’t even have to be long or strenuous activity either (even though that’s generally what I prefer). Just doing short 10 minute walks around the block every 2 hours or a 15-minute yoga before bed do wonders.
And last but not least, learn how to listen to your body. Everyone’s body reacts differently so learn to read your body’s cues. Type 1 diabetes is super finicky and blood sugar is impacted by so many factors that it can be unpredictable sometimes so paying attention to how your body tends to react when your blood sugar is high or low or fluctuating a lot is helpful.
Dianurse: Tell us more about your lifestyle, diet, and fitness/sport activities?
Kelci: I have always been a very active person with a lot of interests. Growing up I played every sport that was put in front of me and has always loved being outside. Today is really no different. I am super lucky, I live in the mountains so I have tons of outdoor activities at my fingertips. Over the past few years scuba diving, rock climbing, snowboarding, and mountain biking have been my main activities. But honestly, I’ll try anything that is outside and has some adventure to it.
Diet-wise, I try really hard to limit my sugar intake and eat balanced meals. Don’t get me wrong, I love dessert as much as the next person but I’ve been making an effort to create healthier dessert options when I can. I also try to have a veggie-heavy diet. I do still eat meat but try to source it sustainably and not have it at every meal.
Dianurse: What is your favorite dish and why?
Kelci: Lately, I would say the go-to dish in our house would be curry dishes. They are so delicious and you can just throw in any and all veggies you have on hand so it’s really filling but not with too many carbs. You can also make it all in one pot which is amazing for cleanup.
Dianurse: What would be the best/most effective way to keep your blood sugar in the healthy range, again based on your experience?
Kelci: As much as I hate to say it, consistency. The spontaneous nature in me hates this, and it’s not to say that you need to be consistent to be healthy with t1d. But it is significantly harder to have healthy bg levels with an inconsistent diet and exercise routine. My blood sugar has been the best when I have stuck to a consistent meal plan and exercise schedule, mostly because I already know how my body reacts to that schedule and how to properly prepare and plan for it.
About diabetes and technology
Dianurse: Technology is rapidly penetrating healthcare. There are literally thousands of apps capable to track vital signs of humans, or simply data loggers ( carbs, blood glucose, etc.). What would be the added value of these technological advances for diabetics? How technology can help diabetics to effectively control their diabetes?
Kelci: The accuracy of the technology is a huge value to diabetics. I have found that the most helpful technology for me in regards to my diabetes management has been a carb counting app and a cgm. A carb counting app is super helpful because as a type 1 diabetic accurate carb counts are essential to healthy blood sugar levels. I played the guessing game for a long time and was wrong with my carb counts at least once a day. While inputting all of my food is an extra step that can be frustrating sometimes it has honestly been a game-changer.
The cgm is newer to me, I’m about 2 months in, but it has made management significantly easier and I feel so much better because of it. The cgm makes it so that I can see which direction my blood sugars are trending and correct them before they get out of an ideal range. Also, the cgm alerts you continuously when you’re out of range so you’re quick to correct which will help decrease diabetes-related complications in the future.
Dianurse: What do you think about the constant connectivity that tele-health app brings to both diabetics and healthcare providers?
Kelci: I think the more you can connect a diabetic to their healthcare provider the better which makes telehealth apps amazing. Diabetes comes with tons of complications and questions that you didn’t see coming, so being able to connect with your healthcare provider as those questions or issues arise makes successful diabetes management way more likely.
Dianurse: How can you inspire others to take better care of themselves and their diabetes?
Kelci: I hope that I can inspire people to pursue their dreams and passions even though they have type 1 diabetes. I had so many bad doctors tell me that I shouldn’t do any activity more strenuous than walking and only tell me about my limits with type 1 diabetes. Without other people in my life telling me that living with diabetes doesn’t have to be like that, I wouldn’t be who I am today. Now I just hope that I can be that ray of light for someone else struggling through a new diagnosis. Because having type 1 diabetes shouldn’t limit life or define you. “
Monica is a marketing maanger at Dianurse and a blogger.