Little did I realize when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a child in 1963, how this monumental event would forever change my life. After a one-week stay in the hospital, I returned home to a life of daily injections and food restrictions. Back then medical conditions were not openly discussed as they are today and there was no support for families and children who were struggling with this disease. Education wasn't readily available and very little was known about the management of type 1 diabetes.
It wasn’t until 30 years later that I serendipitously met another person with type 1 diabetes. This encounter led me to reach out to others with whom I could share this part of my life. For the first time, I didn’t feel alone with my diabetes!
The Type 1 Diabetes Lounge was founded in 1997 after I invited three women for coffee to discuss our lives with diabetes. Soon after, I secured a conference room at a medical facility for regular monthly meetings. This was the beginning of what has evolved into my long-term commitment to help others cope with our chronic disease. Frustrated by a lack of information and resources available during short doctor visits, I focused on facilitating peer support and education needed to manage type 1 diabetes effectively.
As meeting attendance flourished we've relocated to larger quarters. Our educational programs include medical and technical professionals with topics such as research updates, cutting-edge technologies, management techniques and lifestyle issues. Members find supportive peer connections in which to exchange information, feelings, ideas and creative problem solving. Additional educational conferences by renowned speakers from the University of Chicago and JDRF teach skills to manage one's diabetes while maintaining their quality of life. Over the years, many wonderful relationships have formed with the common bond of living our lives together with our disease.
Being able to connect with other people who have diabetes has helped to reshape how I feel about, and look at, living with this disease. As a result of these connections, I'm more motivated, educated, and aware of the decisions I make every day!
My Joslin 50 year medal from 2013