Knowledge is Power — T1D Parenting

5/12/17
WRITTEN BY: Alexi Melvin
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Editor’s Note: George Roumain sits on Beyond Type 1’s Leadership Council.


Health and nutrition have always been very present in George and Kimmie Roumain’s lives. George, a professional athlete and former Olympian, played for the United States National Volleyball team at the 2000 Summer Olympics. Kimmie has built her life around her exercise and nutrition expertise.

The couple’s outlook on health reached an entirely new level when their young daughter, Avery, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes on May 10, 2014.

Avery, now 6-years-old, loves art, ballet and music, and thanks to her attentive parents is thriving with Type 1 diabetes.

“She is cool in school because of poking her finger!” George said of his daughter, who does not shy away from telling her classmates about her Type 1. “We try not to go to her school too much because we don’t want to be those helicopter parents,” George added.

“My wife is the CEO of Type 1 and I’m the assistant.” George laughed. He and his wife utilize the Dexcom Follow app to monitor Avery’s blood sugar and help their daughter correct when necessary.

“My wife was out, and Avery’s blood sugar was 120 and I was watching her. I stopped the car and checked her four or five times,” George remembered, “I started freaking out when she fell asleep because I was thinking she had a low. It puts a lot of strain on the family for sure, but we are proactive and we hustle and manage it.”

George and Kimmie, who now also have a 1-year-old baby, admit to becoming frustrated when Avery’s A1C results at her endocrinologist visits aren’t what they were hoping for.

“We think we’re doing everything the right way and then her A1C goes from 7 to 8 in a month,” George said. “That A1C number is like the dark horse that tracks you down.”

George and Kimmie are very grateful to have the Beyond Type 1 app at their disposal, since there were hardly any recourses or support groups available to them when Avery was first diagnosed.

“When I have a question, I pop it in there,” George said.  “I’m not a social media guy, but there’s always an immediate response in the app. And if there’s someone newly diagnosed, we tell them about it.”

When it comes to nutrition, the Roumains believe that a paleo diet is beneficial for the entire family, and have seen positive results from it, but they acknowledge that every Type 1 family will manage it differently. Avery enjoys cauliflower bread and Lily’s chocolate, which do not spike her blood sugar.

“I’m not going to deny her,” George emphasized, “But six days out of the week we’re keeping it clean, because I do it, and I’m not a diabetic.”

Avery knows how to check her own blood sugar, type in her numbers for the Dexcom and read nutrition facts on her favorite foods. In addition to wearing the Dexcom, Avery uses the OmniPod insulin pump. George and Kimmie plan to fully train Avery so that she can manage her pump on her own when she is 10-years-old, but they currently practice with her.

“I let her have the pump remote control, so she can own it,” George said. “If she can figure out an iPhone then she can figure out an insulin pump.”

Avery’s parents also believe in being upfront with their daughter about the risks that can come with having Type 1.

“We want her to recognize her symptoms,” said George. “We ask her ‘Can you feel it?’ So she’s aware of when her blood sugar is high or low. She also has a strong faith. We don’t want to scare her, but we want her to understand. Knowledge is power.”



Alexi Melvin

Alexi was diagnosed with Type 1 in 2003 at the age of 14. Since then, she and her family (along with dad, Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin) have been consistently active in raising money and awareness wherever their travels lead them. Alexi studied writing at The New School in Manhattan, and is now a freelance journalist, fiction writer and screenwriter based in the Bay Area. Her other passions include film, travel, animals and spiritual healing.