I met the McIver family in September. They are extraordinary -- and also typical D-parents -- in their incredible energy, love, and support for their daughter with type 1 diabetes. They're going to be part of the 2014 Patient Voices video being prepared for our upcoming DiabetesMine Innovation Summit.
Meanwhile, they've offered us a special treat today...
Special to the 'Mine by Michelle Rosolie
Meet Amelia McIver — an 11-year-old type 1 diabetic from Palo Alto, CA. She's the first kid to submit a video product review to our DiabetesMine Test Kitchen site, and we're delighted to have her! Amelia talks about her Medtronic MiniMed Paradigm pump (which she loves). She was diagnosed back in October of 2010, and five months later she went on the pump and never looked back.
Her video review is more about the benefits of being on a pump than the particulars of the model she's using, as it turns out. She gives quite a detailed tutorial on what the pump can do!
"I get to be more independent with it," Amelia says without hesitation when asked about managing her type 1 diabetes and entering the 6th grade. It's clear that for Amelia, the perks of an insulin pump are all about the freedom it offers her. Off the top of her head she lists benefits including: more frequent snacking, easier corrections, and only having to change her injection site once every three days.
Her parents Gordon (a lighting designer) and Christina (a speech pathologist at Palo Alto Unified School District) echo this sentiment. "The management is so much easier [with the pump] . . . eating was probably the biggest change. The biggest relief with the pump was that she could snack."
Amelia was diagnosed with type 1 on October 11, 2010, when her mother brought her to Stanford Medical Center with all the typical symptoms. When the test for type 1 came back positive, Christina recalls the doctor saying, "Of all the chronic diseases, this is the best one to have."
"I didn't take it well at the time, but I get it now," Christina recalls. She and Gordon point to the work of Tamar Sofer-Geri at the California-based diabetes support network Carb DM, and its online group for parents known as Brave Buddies, as an amazing resource that helped them in those early days after diagnosis. Gordon says that in this online group, any time of day or night, they can ask questions, find out about the latest research, or just rant about a bad day. Gordon considers the family lucky to live in the San Francisco Bay Area because of all the great resources, though he does note that Amelia has always been the only diabetic in her elementary school and now in her middle school.
"Really, you find your community wherever you go," he says. Just the other day on the train the family spotted a woman with an insulin pump and sparked up conversation with her. "She was like a diabetes sister for Amelia," the D-Dad says, marveling at this chance but meaningful encounter for his daughter.
Amelia has two brothers: Owen, the blond on the right above, age 9; and Esher, the "curly top," age 6.
"They've both been very supportive of Amelia. They will occasionally allow us to check their blood sugar, and they often help Amelia check by preparing her meter," Dad Gordon tells us.
As far as diabetes is concerned, Amelia is now "completely independent," according to her mom. Not only does Amelia use the insulin pump, but she's also been using a Dexcom CGM for the past five months.
"Her nurse practitioner said she has the best A1C she's ever had!" gushes Christina. "She's in range 89% of the time."
That's no small feat for a diabetic of any age, let alone one who's 11.
When I chatted with Amelia over the phone I too was excited to talk with another type 1 (I've had it myself since 2007), but we quickly got sidetracked when she told me her favorite thing to do is read. Her current favorites are the Harry Potter series, The Penderwicks, and books by E.L. Konigsburg which she's currently reading. Excited, I told her that I love From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, which she's just read, and I asked if she's reading these for school or on her own. "They're for a book club that my friends and I started," she replied.
Her love of books goes so far that she says she could picture herself becoming a librarian one day.
Amelia's also currently rehearsing for her school's performance of Alice in Wonderland in which she plays a card in the Queen of Heart's court, and she also enjoys swimming -- with her friend Noah who also has type 1. "It's nice to have a friend who has the same thing. If I'm low and can't go swimming, she understands."
But clearly Amelia's independence isn't specific to her diabetes, nor is her diabetes a defining characteristic.
She sums it up best when describing her reaction to kids who just want to focus on her diabetes: "I like to talk about normal things too." Yup, Amelia is just an 11-year-old who happens to have diabetes, who wants to be "normal" and is grateful that an insulin pump helps her achieve that.
Please click on the image below to watch Amelia's DiabetesMine Test Kitchen product review:
Want to submit your own video product review? Click here to learn how.