Between Two Lines: Tackling Type 1 With Humor
Nobody has to know
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at age 15. This was a very formative time and adding diabetes to the mix made for several “non-compliant” years. I hid my diabetes from everyone. Friends, teachers, girlfriends, teammates—if they didn’t HAVE to know, I didn’t tell them. I was embarrassed by it. I felt it made me weak and if there was one thing I refused to be, it was weak. There is no way to properly manage T1D and keep it completely secret—hiding it meant poor management.
After college and baseball ended, I became infatuated with working out and bodybuilding. I began work for a personal training company and learned an incredible amount about how blood sugar and insulin impacted my results. This resulted in an increased motivation to manage diabetes better but still, I told very few about my condition. I rarely checked my blood sugar and operated based on where I felt my blood sugar was.
Fast forward a few more years and I was married, had two young children and a successful sales career. One thing that was not going well, however, was my T1D. It was ignored. I had dropped from a very fit 6’5, 235 pounds to an emaciated 188 pounds. The turning point in my life with diabetes was a tingling in my legs. It was light, but enough to send me into a tailspin. I realized that contrary to my own beliefs, I was not invincible. I was shaving years off of my life and it terrified me. I immediately began researching the latest and greatest diabetes tech. I purchased an insulin pump, a CGM, and a smartwatch to display readings on my wrist. Within six months I had regained the lost weight and felt unbelievably better. I slept better, my moods were better, my work was better, my relationships were better—it had been 10 years since I felt that good.
Letting the world in
My quality of life had improved so dramatically that I was encouraged to share it, to find ways to help others find the motivation to change. It took me a year, but I finally got up the courage to open up about the fact that I had type 1 diabetes. I started the “Between Two Lines” YouTube channel about a person with diabetes’ daily efforts to keep their blood sugar between the high and low lines. The following eight weeks were a whirlwind. My friends, coworkers and former teammates were stunned at the realization that I had diabetes. The diabetes community was extremely supportive and there were crazy amounts of engagement, comments, emails and messages from fellow people with diabetes with encouragement and positive vibes.
As a person with diabetes, I have had some victories and plenty of failures. My goal is to help others capitalize on some of the things I have had success with and avoid a lot of the pitfalls. I wanted my videos to inform and that is difficult to do without being dull. It is even more difficult to accomplish when the person is not diabetic.
How could I help others understand life as a T1D? I talk to myself about my blood sugar all the time—what if blood sugar could talk back? I put out the skit “If Blood Sugar Could Talk” and to my disbelief, people connected with it. People with diabetes related big time and I had a neat way to share a little bit about life as a T1D that was humorous and lighthearted. The videos that followed did not ask for sympathy but instead were aimed at informing, creating community and reminding other T1Ds: you are not alone. We all deal with the same things and it is okay to laugh. Humor helps to provide perspective!
If you haven’t checked this video out, I encourage you to! I hope it brings a smile to your day and is a reminder that diabetes stinks, but we all go through it together. You can do it. Good luck keeping it between the lines!