Life With Type 1 Diabetes: A Gamer’s Take

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By DJ Lipscomb

I never thought I would be the type of person who watched someone play video games on the internet. But here I am, a 32-year-old dad who loves video games and not only watches other people stream, but recently started a streaming page + podcast dedicated to video games. Oh yeah, and did I mention I also have type 1 diabetes?

The Name of the Game

I was diagnosed with type 1 at the age of ten and it completely changed my life. It required me to grow up a lot faster than I would have liked and has shaped so many decisions I have made over the last 22 years. I remember being so terrified to do basic things on my own as a kid, even thinking that I might die. As a parent to three minions of my own now, I would never wish that feeling on any of them. That type of mentality is not easily shaken, but I eventually was able to push through the fear and not allow this illness to keep me from being everything I wanted to be.

Lipscomb

Image source: Beyond Type 1

The funny thing about growing up fast is that you leave a lot of “kid” stuff behind. I played video games a lot as a young kid. My brother and I would spend hours playing Gameboy or Super Nintendo. Looking back, I can see now how my diagnosis shifted my mentality on what I thought was age-appropriate. I just didn’t feel like a kid anymore. I had new responsibilities that had life-threatening consequences if ignored. Sure, I still played games, but I lost that pure innocence and fun that comes along with jumping into a brand new world for the first time because I was obsessed with keeping my blood sugar in check.

After going through some major life changes in 2016, I suddenly found myself faced with an opportunity to take stock of who I was and who I wanted to be. My diabetes had suffered immensely as a result of the stress from a divorce, I was out of shape, and I was a little lost. I remember one of the first things that I did for myself during that transition was buy a Nintendo Switch. I will never forget the moment I hooked the Switch up and played The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the first time. That joy I had forgotten suddenly rushed back through my veins. I knew at that moment, gaming would forever be a part of my story.

Fast forward to today. I am the healthiest I have ever been thanks to a major shift in my diet and to a recently introduced workout regimen. I own a successful consulting and media company called Exhale Creative that helps brands determine what type of content they need to create in order to help them grow and better reach their audience. We also produce 99% of the content for those clients. I have been a hired guitar player, touring all over the world and playing in front of tens of thousands of people (that’s a whole other glucose management article on its own). And now, I am chasing down a new dream called Patch Notes.

How to Stream

Patch Notes was created to celebrate the intersection of life and video games. We want to show how video gaming can bring out the best in people while simultaneously breaking down stereotypes about who or what a gamer is. We stream on Facebook Gaming, and you can find our podcast on iTunes and Spotify.

When Facebook announced that on Giving Tuesday they would match dollar for dollar the money raised through charity streams, I was thrilled to raise some funds for Beyond Type 1. I have had the privilege of interacting with several members of the Beyond Type 1 team and truly love the light they shine on all things diabetes. And even though I did not raise an abundant amount of money during our stream, my growing community did step up and donate while we hung out and played Pokemon Shield.

My platform is growing and I can’t think of a better way to use it than to help people, who like me, face this illness every day. It is also worth noting that there are several type 1 diabetes people (T1Ds) who watch the stream, which has made it feel even more meaningful to me. I am excited to host more streams that bring awareness to a disease that is often misunderstood or misrepresented, and look forward to bringing in more donations to help others with diabetes pursue their passions.

You can go back and watch the stream (and still donate) here. And come hang with us anytime at Patch Notes.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Este Haim on Burnout + Bolusing for Pizza

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By Todd Boudreaux

Este Haim is the bassist of the pop group Haim, which she formed with her sisters Alana and Danielle in 2007. Este has also been living with type 1 diabetes for nearly 20 years. Last week, Haim announced the release of their new track “Hallelujah,” stating the song is for “anyone struggling with chronic illness.” Beyond Type 1 caught up with Este to ask about the genesis of the track, her life on the road with T1D, and how she faces diabetes burnout with the help of her support system.

A Rough Transition

Freshman year of high school is perhaps the biggest transition in any teenager’s life. For Este Haim, that transition was made all the more difficult by her diagnosis with type 1 diabetes at age 14. Este recalls how difficult it was to fit in given all that she was going through.

“Yeah, it wasn’t a great way to start my first week of high school… I was basically a social pariah for a very long time. You know, I was just the diabetic kid in school that passes out and no one knows why and the diabetic girl that smelled like orange juice all the time.”

Although some of her classmates made life difficult in high school, there are two people Este has always been able to depend on — her sisters Alana and Danielle.

“Not only are they my sisters, I’m also in business with them, so we spend so much time together. We’re on the road together 24 hours a day for weeks on end. So they’ve seen every version of me. They’ve seen me in a good place with diabetes, and in a sh*tty place with diabetes,” Este says.

“I’m lucky that I have Danielle and Alana to be my support and when I am having a bad day, a bad week, a bad month, they’re always the first people to be like, ‘Dude we got you. Whatever you need. We’re going to get through this. Let’s get you a healthy meal. Let’s not have pizza after the show tonight. Let’s go get you something good so that you don’t wake up and your blood sugar is 350.”

Real Talk

“Pizza is such a blessing but it’s also such a curse” — Este’s description of pizza is all too real for anyone who has lived with diabetes.

“After a show, I get so hungry and the only thing that’s available to me is pizza. And we all know that pizza does weird sh*t to blood sugar. It’s this unexplained thing — bread I can bolus for, tomato sauce I can bolus for, cheese I can bolus for, but for some reason when they’re all together it’s this magical thing that I can never get right. It’s insane, what is that? It’s like my favorite food. And of course, it’s the one thing that I really can never get right. It’s hard being on the road and craving food and realizing the only things that are open late are either diners that don’t really have a lot of like salad-y options, or pizza.”

Este’s sisters fully grasp the exhaustion that comes with living with diabetes and have become an amazing support system for her. Their holistic view serves to remind Este that she is more than her diagnosis.

“My sisters have this incredible attitude of, ‘If you’re going to have a bad day, have a bad day, and just live your goddamn life. Tomorrow’s a new day, you get back on the wagon, get back on taking better care of yourself, let’s make some healthier choices. Let’s take a walk around the venue for a little bit, let’s get some exercise.’ And that also takes energy on their part. So I’m thankful that I have them on the road and it’s definitely an integral part of diabetes, is having that support. I’m really lucky.”

Life on the Road

Haim

Image source: Beyond Type 1

Keeping track of blood sugars on a consistent schedule is extremely difficult, and the ups and downs of life on the road can wreak havoc on the ability to maintain glycemic control, of which Este is all too aware.

“It’s being in a different time zone and not being able to sleep and then the stress of that and the cortisol in my blood making my blood sugar rise for no reason. Often, I won’t even know that I’m stressed out, and then I’ll see on my Dexcom that the arrow just goes straight up.”

Having a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) has been a game-changer for Este, not just because it allows her sisters to follow her glucose levels remotely, but also because of what it means to others living with T1D.

“I think awareness is so important and that’s why I wear my Dexcom on my arm now because I have a way of showing people that I am a type 1 diabetic… before I didn’t really have that.”

Diabetes Burnout

Este doesn’t mince words when it comes to the importance of mental health awareness for people living with type 1 diabetes. She is candid about the very real struggles that anyone living with a chronic illness endures over the course of their life.

“I think something that I struggled with, something a lot of people with diabetes struggle with, is perfection. We were taught to look at high blood sugars as a failure. I think that leads to diabetes burnout because you’re constantly trying to be perfect. Mentally, there’s only so much of that you can take without feeling like a failure… And I think that’s been the majority of the reason that I burn out. I’m just like ‘F*ck it, fine, whatever.’”

Haim recently released a new song titled ‘Hallelujah’ and Este posted that her verse in the song was inspired by her struggles living with T1D, specifically calling out the phenomenon of diabetes burnout in her post.

“It’s a lot easier sometimes to just ignore it and not deal with it, but we all know it always catches up with you… I feel like I’ve gone through diabetes burnout — for long periods of time — at least 10 different times in the past 20 years of being a diabetic, and like it’s tough, man. It’s tough to maintain that as a type 1 with chronic illness because there isn’t necessarily a promise that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and I said it in my post, it’s like a 24-hour job you can’t clock out of, that you don’t get paid for. Maintaining that mental toughness I think is exhausting for a lot of people.”

Haim

Image source: Beyond Type 1

Looking to the Future

At the end of the day, it all comes back to the support we receive from the people around us. As our discussion wrapped, Este told Beyond Type 1 how important it is to remind those that support us just how appreciated they are.

“The thing that I want to impart to people is to tell our loved ones that support us — that we do appreciate them — and to thank them for being supportive because I don’t know what I would do without my sisters, my parents, my best friends and my boyfriend for that matter… I think it’s really important to find the people that truly love and support you. I know it sounds trite and cliché, but all we can do is look to the future and try and live our best lives and have fun doing it. Enjoy every day as much as you possibly can, and don’t let diabetes get in the way of you doing and achieving everything that you want to do. Truly, that’s all we really can do.”

Source: diabetesdaily.com

From Dance to “American Ninja Warrior”: Talking to Christina Martin

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.Christina Martin has had type 1 diabetes since she was 13 years old. In high school, she started her own foundation – Type Zero – to help others know they were not alone. This year, Christina attended the JDRF Children’s Congress and participated in Season […]
Source: diabetesdaily.com

Tested: Book to Inspire People With Type 1 Diabetes into Action

Tim Hoy, an author of several books, has written a book for people with diabetes called Tested. He was diagnosed in 1976 and has lived with type 1 diabetes for 43 years. Tim grew up in a small rural community in New Zealand and in his own words has “gone on to enjoy an amazing […]
Source: diabetesdaily.com

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