Today, we're excited to welcome another fellow diabetes blogger here to the 'Mine. You may recognize Kelley Kent from her blog Below Seven, where she's been writing for about five years now about her life with T1D and of course striving for an A1C below 7%.
An "accountant by day and blogger by night," Kelley's been living with T1D for more than two decades now and is mom to two healthy boys. Welcome, Kelley...
A Guest Post by Kelley Kent
About a week before Christmas, I was at school building a gingerbread house, except unlike most 9-year-olds who used the icing to hold together the gingerbread wall, I ended up eating it. I remember the day vividly even though it was almost 24 years ago. It was a Friday afternoon and the last day I remember before everything changed. The following Monday, I went to the pediatrician. I still have the record where my pediatrician noted constant urinating, drinking a lot, no appetite, ketones large, and weight had dropped from 83 pounds in June to 72 pounds six months later.
Diagnosis: Diabetes Mellitus.
I also remember the day of diagnosis well. I was rushed to the hospital, told I couldn’t eat anything for over 24 hours, and I was given an IV, despite my kicking and screaming. I passed the time in the hospital by making Christmas ornaments as Christmas Day was only four days away. Instead of worrying about what my life would be like after diagnosis, I was worried if I would make it home in time for Santa.
I did make it home on Christmas Eve so Santa was able to find me and he even brought me sugar-free candy (this was back in the early ‘90s when I was only allowed one “treat” per week). At 9 years old, I remember being amazed that he knew since the diagnosis was so new!
After the surreal week, reality hit. I didn’t know much about diabetes but heard the stories about a friend who lost a leg to diabetes and the Steel Magnolias movie pregnancy story and those were enough to scare me. When I was at the hospital, the doctors told me there would be a cure in five years, but of course we are still waiting almost 25 years later. However, I haven’t let type 1 diabetes slow me down!
Despite having type 1 diabetes, I’ve been able to accomplish a lot since my diagnosis:
- Graduated college and received my MBA
- Have a good job and bought a house with my amazing husband
- Traveled to almost 30 countries
- Completed two half-marathons and several other races, including a sprint triathlon
But honestly, my proudest accomplishment has been giving birth to my two sons.
When I was diagnosed, babies weren’t on my mind yet, but I did babysit a lot and always loved children. I knew I wanted my own one day. As I got older, I worried that because of my diabetes I wouldn’t be able to have kids. I didn’t know anyone with diabetes nor did I know anyone that had given birth while having diabetes. The thought scared me.
Once my husband and I got married, having babies became more of a reality. We got married in 2011 and by 2012 we started to talk about the possibility of getting pregnant. While the cure obviously hadn’t arrived as promised by my doctors back when I was diagnosed, a lot of great tools and medical advancements have come in recent years. The Steel Magnolias story from the ‘80s has been long forgotten and replaced by success stories that I found in the Diabetes Online Community (DOC). Finding stories and blogs from fellow type 1 diabetics that had given birth gave me hope.
In 2012, when I first started seriously thinking about babies, I searched online for type 1 diabetes pregnancy success stories and that is how I found the DOC. Through the DOC, I have found a wealth of knowledge and amazing support. It even encouraged me to start my own diabetes blog and it has been one of the best things for my diabetes care (insulin will always be the best). This October will be my blog’s five-year anniversary!
In addition to a wealth of knowledge from the online community, the continuous glucose monitor and insulin pump helped to lower my blood sugars. I also started exercising. I have always been fairly athletic but was never in really great shape. I had a goal to be in the best shape of my life by my 30th birthday and on that day, I completed my second half marathon. A month later, I became pregnant with my first son.
With the CGM and insulin pump, the online community, a great team of doctors (my CDE, endocrinologist and OB) and a lot of hard work, I was able give birth a beautiful, healthy baby boy! The pregnancy wasn’t always easy. Some weeks I would have to make daily changes to my insulin rates as my needs changed. I had way too many doctor appointments, especially after week 32 of the pregnancy when I went for a weekly biophysical profile test. But the end result, my baby, was worth it.
A year later, I got pregnant again and went through another nine months of doctor appointments and frequently changing insulin needs and then I welcomed my second baby boy last July. Both boys had low blood sugars the first 24 hours of their lives but otherwise perfectly healthy. We are currently planning for my baby’s first birthday party that is in just a few weeks!
I will forever think of my type 1 diabetes diagnosis when I think of gingerbread houses but I will never think of it as something that will stop me from achieving my goals and dreams. I have a lot to be thankful for, diabetes technology, a great online supportive community, and two healthy baby boys. Although, I still wouldn’t mind a cure in the next five years!
Thanks for sharing your story, Kelley!