TJ’s Diabetes Journey


This content was made possible with support from Medtronic Diabetes, an active partner of Beyond Type 1 at the time of publication. Medtronic Diabetes recognize that a major racial disparity exists in technology use and access in the diabetes community. Did you know that ethnic minorities are 3x less likely to use technology like a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) or pump? The Medtronic ASK (“Acquire Some Knowledge”) campaign is all about education and raising awareness around this issue.

Learn more on Medtronic’s ASK campaign here.

A Difficult Introduction to Type 1 Diabetes (T1D)

Raziah Jackson passed away on April 17th, 2016 at the age of 13. She was survived by her parents and four siblings, and in the immediate aftermath of her tragic death, Raziah’s younger brother TJ began to show the signs of type 1 diabetes.

Doctors could not find anything wrong with TJ however, and initially his symptoms, including lethargy and frequent urination, were thought to be responses from the stress of losing a sister.

It seemed that TJ was recovering, and the family traveled to North Carolina for Raziah’s second homecoming service. The day after the funeral however, TJ had to be taken to the emergency room because he could not stop vomiting.

His blood sugar was over 38.8 mmol/L700 mg/dL. The nurse said she could smell what was wrong before he was even taken into a room—and they worked to get him stabilized before rushing him to the ICU at the local Children’s Hospital.

“We buried our child one day and were in ICU with another one the following day,” TJ’s mother, Tricia, remembers.  “It felt like our world was crumbling.”

Diabetes Management 101

When TJ was first diagnosed, he was checking his blood sugar at every meal and using an insulin pen. Soon after, the family began seeing diabetes counselors to learn more about the disease and how to take care of it. At the time, the doctors mentioned that TJ needed to “earn” pump technology by becoming well versed in carb counting and how to bolus. He frequently went online to find the amount of carbs in food and educated himself. Tricia explains, “We didn’t want him to feel as if his disease was going to win … it was important to educate himself at all costs to give him power and control over the disease.”

When TJ got his continuous glucose monitoring (CGM), the Jacksons felt that they could finally sleep soundly knowing the device would alarm if TJ went out of range.

An insulin pump was introduced to the family by a diabetes educator and supported by the pediatric endocrinology team. Tricia stresses the importance of finding an endocrinologist who will advocate for a child’s care and a better quality of life. She highly recommends the use of diabetes tech to other parents of children with T1D, explaining, “It allows T1D kids to have some form of control over their health.”

A Brighter Future

Since the time of TJ’s diagnosis, the family has relocated to Virginia and has had their fair share of highs and lows. But with the help of their healthcare team at the Children’s Hospital at the University of Virginia, the Jacksons now feel more comfortable and confident as TJ remains in range most of the time. TJ attends diabetes support groups to meet other children in the area with diabetes and sees an individual counselor to help with diabetes burnout. As of February 2021, TJ is now on the Medtronic closed-loop Minimed 770G system.

The MiniMed 770G system has been life changing for the family. “Medtronic has been phenomenal and has taught us more in the last four months than we knew in the previous four years,” says Tricia. “As parents, we are now able to understand how to help TJ and what to do. It gives us more confidence in making necessary changes between doctor visits.”


The MiniMed™ 770G system is intended for continuous delivery of basal insulin (at user selectable rates) and administration of insulin boluses (in user selectable amounts) for the management of type 1 diabetes mellitus in persons two years of age and older requiring insulin as well as for the continuous monitoring and trending of glucose levels in the fluid under the skin. The MiniMed™ 770G System includes SmartGuard™ technology, which can be programmed to automatically adjust delivery of basal insulin based on continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) sensor glucose values (SG) and can suspend delivery of insulin when the SG value falls below or is predicted to fall below predefined threshold values.
The Medtronic MiniMed™ 770G System consists of the following devices: MiniMed™ 770G Insulin Pump, the Guardian™ Link (3) Transmitter, the Guardian™ Sensor (3), one-press serter, the Accu-Chek® Guide Link blood glucose meter, and the Accu- Chek®Guide Test Strips. The system requires a prescription.The Guardian™ Sensor (3) has not been evaluated and is not intended to be used directly for making therapy adjustments, but rather to provide an indication of when a fingerstick may be required. All therapy adjustments should be based on measurements obtained using a blood glucose meter and not on values provided by the Guardian™ Sensor (3).
All therapy adjustments should be based on measurements obtained using the Accu-Chek® Guide Link blood glucose meter and not on values provided by the Guardian™ Sensor (3). Always check the pump display to ensure the glucose result shown agrees with the glucose results shown on the Accu-Chek® Guide Link blood glucose meter. Do not calibrate your CGM device or calculate a bolus using a blood glucose meter result taken from an alternative site. It is not recommended to calibrate your CGM device when sensor or blood glucose values are changing rapidly, e.g., following a meal or physical exercise.

WARNING: Do not use the SmartGuard™ Auto Mode for people who require less than 8 units or more than 250 units of total daily insulin per day. A total daily dose of at least 8 units, but no more than 250 units, is required to operate in SmartGuard™ Auto Mode.

WARNING: Do not use the MiniMed™ 770G system until appropriate training has been received from a healthcare professional. Training is essential to ensure the safe use of the MiniMed™ 770G system.

Pump therapy is not recommended for people whose vision or hearing does not allow recognition of pump signals and alarms. Pump therapy is not recommended for people who are unwilling or unable to maintain contact with their healthcare professional. The safety of the MiniMed™ 770G system has not been studied in pregnant women. For complete details of the system, including product and important safety information such as indications, contraindications, warnings and precautions associated with system and its components, please consult and the appropriate user guide at

WRITTEN BY Makaila Heifner, POSTED 07/20/21, UPDATED 12/05/22

Makaila was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 16 months old. Before joining the Beyond Type 1 team in 2019, she worked at several diabetes camps, including Camp Leo and DYF. Makaila earned her BA in Global Studies and a minor in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley. When she isn’t editing articles, Makaila is a fan of soup, public radio and live music. Check her out on Instagram: @makailaheifner.