Say hello to our newest intern, Caitlin Patterson, a type 1 college student at George Mason University in Virginia with loads of relevant experience and DOC enthusiasm to share.
We’re excited to introduce her, and thought it would be best to let her do the talking:
Hi Everyone! My name is Cait Patterson and I’m currently a junior in college majoring in Global and Community Health concentrating in Community Health Education.
I’m very excited to be interning at DiabetesMine and I can tell you I’m working on some top-secret stuff that I can’t wait to share with you all soon!
I first discovered the ‘Mine back when I was diagnosed in August 2011 at 18 years old.
Twenty days before moving out to start my first year of college, I found myself in the doctor’s office with symptoms of appendicitis. After mentally preparing myself that this was the moment when I’d be cut wide open to remove an organ, the nurse practitioner came into the room and said, “So, we don’t know what is causing your pain, but we think you may have diabetes.” Before my mind could process this information, my mouth opened and said: “Excuse me?!”
My fasting blood glucose was 177, I had a 7.5 A1c, and a doctor that was frantically debating whether to put me in the hospital or get me treated in outpatient care with an endocrinologist.
The next day, I had convinced myself that I was going to go to the endocrinologist and she would say this was all a fluke. Well, that didn’t happen.
The nurse came in, stabbed my finger to check my blood sugar, followed by a doctor making an appearance and saying, “Hi Cait, you have type 1 diabetes. Please go to the next room so the nurse can show you how to use a meter and take shots.” These were not the kind of shots I was planning on taking during my first semester of college! So, like every normal 18-year-old, I was completely calm and thanked her for her great hospitality. Or something sort-of (not at all) like that.
I sat with my mom listening to “diabetes boot camp” and trying to decide if I was going to cry, scream, throw up or do all three at the same time. Somewhere between me scheming how I could blame diabetes on my doctor, I realized that a lot of diabetes information was very “one size fits all.”
I was amazed at the lack of resources for my age group during my education. All the pre-made packets and information was either “too young” or “too old” and nothing fit “just right.”
The thing that has stuck with me the most was an educational package my nurse educator gave me. I was an 18-year-old “too-cool-for-diabetes” know-it-all, and she gave me the same pink camo lunch box she gives to her six-year-old newly diagnosed patients. And for the record, I wasn’t even a big fan of pink camo at age six either.
Needless to say, that pink camo lunch box still has yet to be opened.
That was when I decided I wanted to work to find a way to fit diabetes and its tools and tricks into my lifestyle, not a pre-packaged ugly pink camo lunch box.
Even though I had less than three weeks to adjust to diabetes before starting college, I went off anyway to become a ruthless journalist. And, as if living on your own for the first time and meeting all new people wasn’t enough, I found myself educating my hall mates and classmates (and sometimes professors) about diabetes.
I corrected students when they said diabetes meant I was “allergic to sugar.” I learned to just smile when people asked me “how do you give yourself shots? I could never do that.” And, most importantly, I realized I should say I have diabetes before I tell my residence hall director that I’ve been high all day.
After my first year at college, and after adjusting to college and diabetes, a celiac disease diagnosis, and transferring to a different university, I realized I wanted to have a career in educating the public about diabetes, thus changing my major to Community Health Education.
And the change in majors seems to have worked for the best. Before coming to DiabetesMine, I was a web production intern at the American Diabetes Association. During my eight-month internship, I worked on the diabetes.org redesign and learned a lot about the diabetes community on a much broader level.
Besides my work at the ‘Mine and school, I will also be preparing to become a Certified Personal Trainer and (hopefully) run my second 5k in May.
I can’t wait to share my experiences with diabetes through my personal life and my education with you, and I’m very excited to hear about your experiences as well. Please feel free to reach out anytime and be on the look out for some exciting new things coming soon to the ‘Mine!
Yay Cait! We’re so very pleased to welcome to her to our team — and we hope you’ll all give her a warm welcome as well. You’ll find her soon on our Twitter feed, too.