Today we're excited to bring you a guest post from our newest team member, Rachel Kerstetter, a twenty-something type 1 in Ohio who recently joined the 'Mine on a part-time basis helping out on the social media front (look for her initials on our Twitter feed).
Diagnosed about four years ago, Rachel's been active in the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) with her personal blog, Probably Rachel. We love the intro: "I’m a PR professional and social media enthusiast, blogging about life, marriage, coffee and type 1 diabetes. I like to think I’m a photographer, one with a strange obsession with orchids and anything green."
With a day job in industrial marketing in Cleveland, Rachel recently got an unexpected chance to offer some diabetes fashion advice to a local newspaper...
A Guest Post by Rachel Kerstetter
I was recently interviewed by the style section of my local paper, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, for a Q&A on personal style, refashioning clothing (refreshing older stuff) clothing, blogging and dressing well with a medical device. The interview and photo shoot continued to come back to the fact that I live with type 1 diabetes and still dress stylishly.
Doing that interview got me thinking
about how having diabetes has impacted how I dress/accessorize and the image
that I present to the world of myself.
The very first time diabetes impacted my style was when I was still in the hospital recovering from DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) after being diagnosed with type 1 at age 22. I had just been given the type 1 starter kit from the hospital (designed for kids in a green lunch box with a frog on it and pink One Touch meter) and I was just beginning to learn everything that I needed to keep with me. I looked at my dinky little purse and said anxiously to my husband Brad, "I have to buy a bigger purse!"
"We'll get you a really nice one," he said, unfazed. A couple of weeks after I was released, a girlfriend and I went to the Coach outlet store with one goal: to buy myself a purse fit to carry all my diabetes stuff. It was the first time I was ever so focused on function over form.
Then we started researching insulin pumps right away. Brad really dove into the insulin pump research process and started reading people's blogs about them. (As I write this, I just realized that my husband encountered the DOC before I did!) He was telling me about the model that had been recommended by the hospital and said that some people modified their clothes to be able to wear dresses. Then he discovered the OmniPod tubeless pump.
It didn't take long for me to be sold on the concept of a tubeless insulin pump. One of the main reasons was freedom to wear what I wanted and not worry about waistbands and pockets.
The more time I've spent talking with other pumpers and learning about the variety of diabetes accessories that are out there, the more I've realized that our meter bags, insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors and medical IDs make a fashion statement for us. And I love that!
Pimped out pod pictures are commonly shared within the OmniPod user Facebook group I'm in. They feature everything from nail polish and stickers to PumpPeelz or Kedz covers, reinforcing the concept that if we're going to wear it, it might as well look good. I personally use Pump Peelz for special occasions, like Easter, Christmas or other events. I either match them to my outfits or wear my "label" so I don't have to explain what the "thing" on my arm is over and over.
Many of us also get creative trying to find ways to make our gear work for us, from fabulous purses to masculine messenger bags ("murses" if you will), and tucking away a tubed pump into a bra in a formal dress or stashing a Dexcom receiver and glucose in a DIY garter under a bridesmaid's getup.
Making my diabetes necessities stylish with covers, cute bags, classy bracelets and even choosing to wear blue on Fridays helps me feel like I live with diabetes rather than LIVE diabetes.
The upshot is: Don't let having diabetes cramp your style. Make it work for you.
Thanks for sharing that, Rachel! It's important for manufacturers and physicians too, to know how much it means to us to be able to express ourselves and enjoy fashion as much as "healthy" people do.