Transcend Warrior – Jennifer Peterson

My Story:

Two days before I was supposed to go on a trip to Punta Cana with my best friends, I went low and became unconscious. I woke up in the hospital to my family practically canceling my trip for me. I would not let diabetes take this once-in-a-lifetime experience from me. I packed a bag of insulin coolers, sweets, glucose tabs, etc. Then immediately found the resort juice bar in case of a low, took some of the incredible fresh fruits they offered at each meal to the beach with me. I got to swim, snorkel, parasail, and fell in love with kayaking on that trip. But the best part was the memories I made with my two best friends. I was scared that day in the hospital, scared of having an emergency in a foreign country- but I packed and prepared for ever possible scenario, and my friends spent the plane ride learned how to use my Glucagon needle (thankfully it wasn’t needed). I knew I could get through this trip safely – I learned a lot about how to keep myself safe and persevered.

My Health Details

  • Type of Diabetes:Type 1
  • Low blood sugar instances per week:4-5 Instances
  • Daily number of times checking blood sugar:7+ times/day
  • Managing Diabetes with:Insulin Pump
  • What age were you diagnosed with diabetes?16+
  • How long does it typically take you to come up when you are low?Under 1 hour

Do you have a diabetic hero that you look up to? If so, who and why?

My 7 year old niece, Lily. She was diagnosed with Type 1 this past summer. In the 7 or so months that she’s had it, she has learned so much. She listens to her body so well. She’ll know a low is coming before we see it on the Dexcom, and she knows what foods help her get back to her target number. She’s tougher, braver, and smarter than I’ll ever be. She asks me questions about my experiences, asks about the pump (she’s not on one yet) and she could not make me, or any of us who love her, any more proud.

What is your biggest challenge with diabetes?

Having to ask others for help. I’ve had lows at work where I’ve had to ask my coworkers for help. I hate it. I don’t like being a nuisance. And I know they don’t see it that way – it’s entirely in my head – and are happy to help, but it just doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t want to ask someone to get me my juice from the fridge, or to hand them my Baqsimi and explain, “OK, if – IF – I pass out, this is what you do.” Some people panic every time my pump beeps, most calmly pay attention and let me tell them when I’m in trouble. And I appreciate it all. But it’s so counterintuitive for me. I’ve got this voice in my head saying “don’t be a bother,” and I have to work very hard to not listen to that.

What have you learned from your experiences with diabetes?

I’ve learned that medicine is an incredible, incredible thing. Where research is and what products are available now, as opposed to ten, twenty, thirty years ago is nothing short of miraculous. I know there will be many more advances in my lifetime, and especially in my niece’s.

I’ve learned that I’m incredibly lucky to have good insurance. Insulin is way more expensive than it should be. I’ve always known that. But it’s not just insulin. It’s the CGM, the lancets, the strips, the pen needles, the pumps, the infusion sets. There are way too many diabetics in this country who have no insurance or who’s insurance doesn’t pay as much as mine. People who take less insulin than they should because they have to make each vial last. This should not be the case.