Joining the Circus and Finding a T1D Community
1/29/16
WRITTEN BY: Alex G
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Though I am a grad student by day, I like to keep my potential career options open, so on the weekends, I attend circus school. The physical exertion tends to drop my blood sugars low, but the unpredictable spikes of adrenaline when I try a new skill or have a near miss on the trampoline or trapeze send my blood sugars soaring, only to crash when the adrenaline wears off. Because of this, I was super excited when I finally got a CGM earlier last year because I would be able to see my blood sugar trends and intervene earlier.

What I didn’t anticipate was how hard it would be to find a site to wear the CGM sensor that didn’t interfere with the circus apparatus. I initially tried all the places my CDE and endo recommended – stomach, back, love handles, back of arms and legs.  But each week, I would end up bruised from landing on the sensor repeatedly or I would accidentally rip it out when it got caught on a mat, a net or the safety harness. I was getting very discouraged. After many weeks of failure, the solution that finally worked came not from a medical professional, but from another adult with T1D who had encountered a similar problem. She recommended the inside of my upper arm, and it worked like a charm; I have not lost a sensor at circus in six months.

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Thinking back on that experience, I realize that the most helpful tips about living with T1D have come not from medical professionals or the manuals that come with the variety of gadgets I wear, but from others with T1D. Others who understand the frustration of dealing with pump tubing while changing clothes, the disorientation of waking up low in the middle of the night, the hassles of traveling with all the luggage other people need but also insulin, syringes, pump supplies, meters and strips, low treatments, spare batteries, etc. Talking to other adults living with T1D, learning from them, and forming lasting relationships with people who “get it” is the foundation of successful T1D management for me.

And that is why I am, again, super excited – this time about attending the ConnecT1D® Retreat June 25-26, 2016.  It will be a chance to connect with old friends and meet new ones and learn from great speakers. It’s an opportunity to discuss the highs and lows of diabetes (pun intended) in large and small groups of others who understand what it’s like living with T1D and to create a tighter community. There will also be time to see the latest and greatest in diabetes technology, time to hang out and talk informally rather than in scheduled sessions, a day at a beautiful resort only for adults with T1D and their significant others, as well as separate times for parents, teens and Type 3’s (those who love someone with T1D) to talk with one another.

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In the ConnecT1D® organization, we believe these connections are incredibly important. Though many of us are a part of the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) and rely on the DOC for many aspects of diabetes support, we also believe that face-to-face, in person connections are important. In person, friendships can allow you to take walks and bike rides, relax with a coffee or a beer together, and share conversations that may be more difficult to have online. In person, friends can give real hugs, high fives, fist bumps, and a pat on the back, and sometimes shed a few tears with you. Friends like this, who also have T1D, have an understanding of challenges you’re going through that people without T1D know nothing about. And this gets right to the heart of ConnecT1D’s mission: to connect people living with Type 1 diabetes through programs, social networking, educational meetings and support activities at every stage of their lives. We hope you will join us in Seattle for our retreat this summer!

Alex G

Alex is getting her Ph.D. and M.D. graduate degrees at the same time. Circus acrobatics has become her pastime and passion. She also volunteers as an elite coach on several Riding on Insulin programs across the country and she's on the board of ConnecT1D.