Diabetes Blogs Can Change Your Life

Michaela Byrnes (nickname Kayla) is an adorable 21-year-old college student in Massachusetts who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes five years ago. She found me online recently — and through me, discovered the entire Diabetes OC. I’m very grateful to report that our just “being here” seems to have helped change at least this one life.

“My mom actually found this stuff, around Thanksgiving 2007,” Kayla tells me. “At first I wasn’t that interested, because many of the topics didn’t really speak to me… the information was interesting, but I didn’t find someone that had experiences like mine. Now, the more I look into it, the more I find things of value here, and I want to connect — to talk about topics that seem ‘taboo.’” What Kayla really wants to do is start her own blog for PWD college students walking in her shoes.

In her own words:

Here’s what I’m wondering: Do any other diabetics feel like there are some questions that no matter how you phrase it cannot be asked or answered by a medical professional? Like, Excuse me Doctor, but, how exactly am I supposed to fit into those cute skinny jeans that everyone’s wearing with this pump attached to my butt?

Kayla_and_her_mom_2

Rather, enough is enough, I get it…I’m supposed to watch what I eat, poke my finger and carry a juice box in my purse and after all that, somehow manage to still be the 21 year old girl who loves dressing up and going out with her friends?

For years, there was a part of me that felt I had to hide my “fun” side from my doctors, talking to my doctor was more stressful than talking to my parents when I stayed out past my curfew. Recently, I’ve been blessed with the most wonderful doctor, when he told me he had a daughter my age, I felt like I had won the Medical Professional Jackpot. Yet, it took me almost 6 months after my 21st birthday to admit that one of my greatest enjoyments in my young life is going out with my girlfriends and (Gasp!) gossiping over a cocktail or two. I’ll never forget the day I decided that I was going to ask my doctor how to bolus when drinking beer. I was a nervous wreck all day; surely he would think differently of me as a patient, my palms were sweating as I interrupted him and blurted out “I drink beer.” Surprising to me, he simply explained what precautions to take and didn’t kick me out of his office for being what I considered a “bad” diabetic. Even now as I write this, I am worried that perhaps I am too self-critical or vice versa, that I’m the only diabetic in the world who loves a good beer now and again.

What I’ve realized through my discovery of the online community and through several other epiphanies’ is that diabetes does not mean sacrificing “you,” it’s all about adapting to fit diabetes into your life. When my Mom found the blogging community, I began a fervent search to find the “answer” to questions that have bothered me for years. The diabetes part is manageable, it’s figuring out how to maintain your “fabulosity” that I’ve found to be the tricky part. Fashion Designers don’t cater to normal sized women much less the pump girls of the world. However, I’ve found that after years of hiding my body and my pump, it’s not worth it. Diabetics should flaunt what their momma’s gave them just as much as anyone else, after all, we do it all…We’re smart, beautiful, fun, interesting women AND we have diabetes.

Let’s focus on the positive; I don’t want diabetes to define me but rather motivate me. What I’m trying to get at is my idea for my own blog, I want to create a space where I can talk about the topics that other diabetic women understand and have experienced. I personally don’t have any friends with diabetes so anything I’ve learned has been from my own mistakes and discoveries about fashion, sex, going out, exercise, work, travel, boyfriends, etc. I’ve been thinking about this idea for some time and discovering DiabetesMine made me realize that I’m not alone, and what I’m hoping is that I can get some feedback on my ideas from some fellow fashionista diabetics. I believe there is a fun side to diabetes; it’s just harder to find. Thanks Amy, for giving me this idea!

Thank you, Kayla, for just being so real. I can certainly relate to all your concerns — even as an early-40s mom. I love a hot outfit and good drink, too. But I bet there are loads other teens and college students who can relate even more closely. If you’re out there, Gals, step up and say hello to Kayla!

17 Responses

  1. Secret Admirer
    Secret Admirer March 14, 2008 at 7:42 am | | Reply

    Hi fashionista, your fabulosity is remarkable.
    -me

  2. Michelle
    Michelle March 14, 2008 at 7:47 am | | Reply

    Can’t wait to see her blog.

  3. riva
    riva March 14, 2008 at 8:49 am | | Reply

    Kayla, there are lots of blogs out there being written by young women like yourself. Check out ‘sixuntilme’ and ‘curemoll’ for sure. Check out mine on my site, ‘diabetesstories’. I’m a lifetime older than you but got type 1 at 18 and talk about its ups and downs and looking for the silver lining. And check out ‘divabetics’ who like you, want to see fun and glamour hooked into diabetes, not just infusion sets. With all that, I’m sure there’s room for your voice as well.
    riva

  4. Hannah
    Hannah March 14, 2008 at 9:41 am | | Reply

    Amy–thanks for making this connection!

    Kayla–I’m Hannah; I write “Dorkabetic”, and I would love to read what you have to say! I think we ALL need a little more fabulousness in our lives. I’m sure there are even some folks out there who don’t understand that you can be fab and have the big D at the same time. Ugh, and I assure you, I am just as annoyed by the pump not working with some of my outfits. Ever tried dressing up for the Rocky Horror Picture Show and trying to accomodate a pump? It’s tricky. I will say this much…there are not enough skirts with pockets in this world. Looking forward to reading stuff from you!

  5. Sarah
    Sarah March 14, 2008 at 10:39 am | | Reply

    I would be very interested in reading your blog! I am 22 and was just diagnosed June 2007. It’s wonderful to find others to relate to. I look forward to your blog!

  6. kelly K
    kelly K March 14, 2008 at 10:54 am | | Reply

    Amy – Thanks for the introduction !

    Kayla – I’m Kelly from Diabetesaliciousness and I think hearing your thoughts would be awesome!
    Pumps as a fashion accessory might take some work, but it can be done! I’ve worn mine with a silk corset and other form fitting fashionesta inspired outfits, including a 50′s inspired June Cleaver number for a play I was in and a summer wetsuit for 40 mile jetski jounts in N.J and Maryland. It takes a little creativity, but u can make it work! Diabetics can be fabulous and the more you read about others experiences, the more you be able to learn and teach.
    Can’t wait to read your blog!
    k2
    P.S I’m not a huge fan of beer, vodka is the drink of my people and I do indulge.
    Your not a bad diabetic, just a normal person who likes to kick back with a cold brew from time to time!
    k2

  7. Kathy
    Kathy March 14, 2008 at 11:00 am | | Reply

    Hey Kayla,

    Welcome to the diabetes OC! I was dx’d at age 12 and like you, went through all the teen/20-something experiences dreading my doctor visit ‘chats’. Looking forward to reading your future blog!

    Kathy (araby62 on TuDiabetes)

  8. Allison
    Allison March 14, 2008 at 12:47 pm | | Reply

    Hi Kayla! I’m Allison and I write over at “Tales of a Twentysomething.” I’m so glad we have another twentysomething voice among us! Can’t wait to read some of your stuff.

    Drink of choice: Rum and Diet Coke. :o )Allison

  9. Carly
    Carly March 14, 2008 at 2:31 pm | | Reply

    Hey Kayla! I totally feel ya. I’m a “bad” diabetic who will sometimes grab some beer or a sugarfree red bull and vodka when I’m out with friends…but I also have a 6.1 A1c! It’s all about allowing yourself to act your age and have fun, but working hard to balance it out. Good luck!

  10. Anna
    Anna March 15, 2008 at 5:11 am | | Reply

    Kayla,
    Diagnosed at 16 (20 years ago), I have been through a lot with my diabetes and my pump. Plenty of beer, parties, fabulous outfits, and a healthy share of boys. I have had fun and been responsible and have never let my diabetes set me back from experiencing and living a full life. In fact, the more someone tells me that “its just not possible considering my diabetes,” the more it becomes my reality.

    I have traveled to far away lands, been scuba diving with sharks, run marathons, danced on table tops in bars til wee hours of the night, wore my pump my entire wedding day (tight dress and all), and have had a beautiful perfectly healthy baby boy.

    You can do anything you want. Your candour is refreshing and your attitude will get you far. Good for you for reaching out!

  11. Michaela B.
    Michaela B. March 15, 2008 at 12:44 pm | | Reply

    Hi Everyone! Thank You SO much for all of your feedback…your words are so encouraging and its so nice to have so many inspiring, wonderful responses. I’ve picked a name for my blog and am planning on posting my first blog this weekend. I had an amazing diabetes day today..for my internship at the ADA, I worked the Boston Diabetes Expo and it was incredible. I’m def. going to write about it and all the amazing things I saw and all the cool people I met. The name of my blog is going to be “Queen Bee-tes” I also got in contact with an old friend who I haven’t talked to in years, she has been diabetic since 6th grade and lives in Florida now. She expressed interest in blogging so we’re talking about writing sister blogs and trying to keep in contact since neither of us knows many people with diabetes. Once Again, Thanks for making me smile with all your fabulous messages!

  12. Katie
    Katie March 15, 2008 at 3:49 pm | | Reply

    Twenty-something (actualy 26)diabetic from over the pond in the Uk calling. I’m not as wild as I used to be but I still enjoy partying, drinking and wearing skimpy outfits! My diabetes has always been there but it’s never stopped me from doing anything I wanted to do; it’s just made me more self-aware and I don’t think that’s ever a bad thing. Hoping to start a Uk based blog soon as there is a real lack of info and support for people my age over here.
    We’re all fabulous – it helps to remind each other from time to tme : )

  13. Laura
    Laura March 16, 2008 at 3:01 pm | | Reply

    Kayla – Loved your post! Being young and feeling attractive while having this insulin pump attached to me is sometimes a struggle in my 20′s. I do think it’s to our credit, as strong women, to be able to manage it all – I’m just afraid other people unfamiliar with Diabetes and pumps don’t see it as such. Your posting was a comfort that there are other people out there in my shoes. I look forward to your blog and more thoughts on being young and managing it all!

    Laura

  14. totoro
    totoro March 17, 2008 at 2:02 am | | Reply

    Hi My name is TOTORO.Your site is very interesting
    I will visit again.I love this site…thank you
    Please link to my site.

    http://totoro-diet.blogspot.com/

  15. Ed
    Ed March 17, 2008 at 6:26 am | | Reply

    Kayla – I hear ya! I was diagnosed back on April 2nd at 27 and have been speaking with the JDRF about all the issues you’ve raised. The thing that I’ve discussed most with them is the lack of guidelines about how to lead that normal 20-something life; how to go out for a night drinking without worrying, where to wear a pump – how long can you keep a pump off if you’re having sex and how do you prevent a low during that. One of my type 1 friends refuses to go on a pump because she doesn’t know where to wear it with a tight dress – so alot of Type 1s share your concerns. Feel free to check out my blog and contact me – http://www.ringthebolus.blogspot.com

    Ed

  16. Michaela B.
    Michaela B. March 19, 2008 at 6:50 pm | | Reply

    Hi Guys, It’s Michaela Again. Just wanted to let you all know that I have launched my blog…the URL is: QueenBee-tes.blogspot.com

    I’m still working out all the kinks but I’ve written two posts, please check it out and leave me comments on what needs to be fixed or changed!!

    Thank You All for Your Wonderful Feedback..I look forward to blogging with you!!

  17. elba herrera
    elba herrera March 30, 2008 at 4:26 pm | | Reply

    I HAVE DIABETES 1 BUT AFTER BEING ADMITTED TO THE HOSPITAL WITH SUGAR LEVELS IN THE 700 I WAS SHOCKED WHEN I WAS DIAGNOSTED WITH DIABETES 1, SINCE I’M 72!THE DOCTOR WAS SHOCKED ALSO…SO MY DAUGHTERS DID SOME INVESTIGATING AND FOUND OUT I ACTUALLY HAVE DIBETES 1 AND 1/2 DIDN’T EVEN KNOW THERE WAS SUCH A THING …JUST 2 MONTHS AGO I ASKED THE DOCTOR TO TAKE ME OFF THE INSULIN SHOTS AND HE WAS RELUCTANT TO DO IT BUT SAID IT WOULD BE FINE SO RIGHT NOW I JUST TAKE PILLS 1500 MG OF METFORMIN,BUT LAST MONTH I SHRUNK IT TO 1000MG…AND I FEEL GREAT AND KEPT MY SUGAR LEVELS LOW…SO IN REALITY I DID NOT NEED THE SHOTS!!!???

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