This post is brought to you by a special customer of ours, Kristi Domke. Hello Lauren's Hope blog readers! Much like Lauren's Hope, I have dedicated my life to helping those struggling with diabetes. I am happy to share my story with you and tell you about myself, my personal experience with T1D, and my involvement with D.R.E.A.M., the organization that my life with diabetes has brought me to become a part of. Please read this post and we can all come together as we dream for a cure and make a difference!
Make a Difference…D.R.E.A.M. for a Cure!
I work for D.R.E.A.M. – Diabetes Research & Education Advocates of Michigan. Our objectives are to seek contributions through fundraising activities, support research to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes, and educate the public about the growing epidemic of Type 1 diabetes.
I am involved with D.R.E.A.M. not only because it is my job, but because I am living with Type 1 diabetes. I was diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes when I was in elementary school. Now, at age 26, my diabetes has become a major part of my life. Since I was diagnosed with diabetes more than fifteen years ago, I have had to face many challenges such as eating a special diet, constantly monitoring my blood sugars, and leading a life that is rather controlled. But through all of these hardships, I have learned a great deal about myself, and about others. I have transformed a seemingly negative situation into a positive aspect of my life.
My days of insulin shots and blood testing began when I was eleven years old. I displayed the classic symptoms of untreated diabetes, although I did not realize it at the time. I started to feel sick, and was sent on an unexpected trip to the emergency room. On September 26, 1996 I was diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes, and my world was flipped upside down.
Shock. Confusion. Utter disbelief. These are just a few words to describe my feelings at that moment. Most of all, I was scared. I did not know the first thing about diabetes. From that moment on my life forever changed. I had to learn so much in such a short period of time. It was exhausting. I had to learn how to give myself shots, how to monitor my blood sugar, how to carb count, how to eat a certain diet (limiting my sweets!), how to adjust my insulin, how to recognize and treat low and high blood sugars, the list goes on and on. It was a lot of stress for just a kid.
I am 26 years old now, and have grown in many ways. I have become very independent and know how to take care of myself and my diabetes. It was not easy, but I adjusted to my new style of living. This disease is not something a person can just ignore. Since a cure for this disease does not yet exist, I came to the conclusion that I had to make my diabetes a part of my life. So I did, and I learned to take things day by day.
For nearly fifteen years, my family went unscathed by diabetes. I was the only member of my family to have this disease. Then one October night in 2009, I get a panicked phone call. My ten year old cousin, Alexis, has been rushed to the hospital. The diagnosis: Type 1 diabetes. I was in shock. Luckily, I was able to coach Alexis through her diagnosis, and she handled it quite well. Then, one month later in November 2009 my phone rings. It is my Mom. She is nearly in tears. My 23 year old sister, Jessica, is now being rushed to the hospital. Not again…but, yes, it is Type 1 diabetes. I am in disbelief. How can this be happening? How can this happen to all three of us?
I am so proud of both my sister, Jessica, and cousin, Alexis. They are both doing well, although are still adjusting to life with diabetes. Being the “veteran” T1D of the family, I have tried to pass my “wisdom” onto my newly diagnosed cousin and sister. When I was diagnosed, I had to learn everything myself. Everything was trial and error. One thing that was always a problem when I was younger was wearing my Medical ID. All I had was this unattractive and cheap tag from the pharmacy. It was horrible to wear, and so like a rebellious teen – I didn’t wear it! My parents and doctors would scold me for not wearing any Medical ID, but I was a girl and wanted something pretty! Then one day, I found Lauren’s Hope. I was thrilled to see their fashionable and functional medical alert bracelets. I ordered one, and have been a loyal customer ever since. In fact, upon my cousin and sister’s diagnosis I instantly shared Lauren’s Hope with them and they ordered their Medical ID bracelets…now we don’t take them off, and get compliments about them all the time!
Diabetes has no cure. It has become my mission to help others affected by this disease, just as it is the mission of D.R.E.A.M. I became involved with this organization because of the hard work and dedication they have to fundraise money for a cure.
D.R.E.A.M. was founded in April 2009 by the Kramer and Grodman families. Diabetes is also very personal to these two families. The Kramer's son, Tyler, as well as the Grodman's two sons, Jared and Adam, all have Type 1 diabetes. Together, they formed D.R.E.A.M. to help the millions of people living with diabetes today.
D.R.E.A.M is dedicated to raising the funds needed to find a cure so that no child will have to grow up with diabetes again. D.R.E.A.M. has partnered with the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, and is committed to raising $100,000 to go towards cutting-edge diabetes research at Mott. To reach our goal, we need the help of others, who are passionate about finding a cure. Chances are you, or someone you know, suffers from diabetes, and we need your help. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to become involved, or visit www.dreamforacure.com to make your secure online tax-deductible donation today, and help D.R.E.A.M. find the cure!