On the Twelfth Day of Diabadass

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The 12th Day of Diabadass: Meet Libby

Because Libby Russell is one of the greatest creatives we know, we thought we’d hand the mic (or, in this case, keyboard) over to her! Here’s the ultimate how-to-be-a-diabadass, according to Libby. 

My name is Libby, I’m 30 years old, and I live in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, with my fiancé, Sean, and our cat, Hendricks. We’ve been here for almost 4 years and love it with our whole hearts! I grew up in Maine with a slightly younger brother; our parents are superstars, who provided nothing but the best childhood imaginable. A lot of playing outside, dogs, cleats and shinguard-filled mudrooms, and all-around fun.

My brother was born with a major heart problem that required immediate surgery, so my parents are professionals at incredibly shocking health scare news about their kids. They don’t panic, and that’s the most important thing I’ve learned from them. Their approach has always been, “Is it livable? Yep. Alright, then let’s go out there and live!” It’s a refreshingly optimistic way to go about things, and it makes it hard to wallow around feeling sorry for myself.

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I’ve lived with type 1 diabetes since I was 17 years old. I got diagnosed right in the middle of my junior year of high school and lacrosse season – right when I was starting to get really serious about the sport, and considering playing in college. Thankfully, my mom picked up on my symptoms really quickly, and when I was officially diagnosed, I was still healthy-ish. Let me tell you though, when I was undiagnosed for those few months, those long road trips to look at colleges when my blood sugar was secretly 400 mg/dL was notfun for anyone – lots of pit-stops to pee!

It’s All Rainbows & Unicorns 🌈💯

Managing my diabetes has been a slowly evolving process. Because I was diagnosed during a time when a lot of life was happening, it admittedly took me a few years to come to terms with everything. When I graduated college, I had a big conversation with myself. I was frustrated that I couldn’t find a single peer to bond with over this disease because marketing and doctors had led me to believe there were only elderly people and young kids living with diabetes, and I was frustrated that everything about diabetes was archaic.

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Nothing was aesthetically pleasing to have hanging around in my purse, and I wasn’t exactly proud to pull out a test kit that looked like something I conjured up from 1972. I realized that part of why I was still so private about my diabetes, was because there was nothing about it that made me feel proud or empowered. It just made me feel embarrassed and like a liability to myself and others.

I’ve Got The Shugs

So, I started blogging. I went to the Internet to talk about how antiquated the entire world of diabetes was, and that the providers and items that were supposed to help us were so out of date that as a young woman trying to find her way in the world, it was all really holding me back. There was no community, no solidarity, no sense of humor, nothing. I called the blog “I Have The Sugars” after an SNL bit by Kristen Wiig that made me pee my pants laughing. From that moment onward, everything changed.

It’s my greatest accomplishment. I feel like I have provided a platform for young women (and men!) where they feel safe, heard, empowered and comfortable with their diabetes, and I would have done anything to have that as a teenager!

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I eventually turned my blog into an Instagram account, and I also launched a Teepublic shop that sells funny, ironic and trendy shirts that are designed to help combat all the “aesthetic” and “lack of humor” issues I was experiencing in my early twenties. I went on to build a large following on Instagram, and inspired a movement of young diabetics to get on the platform, bond, meet each other, and raise their voices about the massive void of support that used to exist for young adults with type 1 diabetes.

But Wait, There’s More! 

After I started The Sugars, I noticed a few other brands pop up that had the exact same thought that I did, “Diabetes stuff is really boring and ugly, let’s fix it!” Myabetic being one of the first ones I remember. Then, when One Drop came around, I was ecstatic. I used to decorate my test kit pouches with nail polish and ribbon to make them less ugly, and now…I have nothing to hide with One Drop.

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The One Drop meter is one of the most beautiful things that has ever happened to the diabetes community, which really helps with us being intimidated to test our blood sugar in public. Now, I don’t think twice about it.

My confidence level and my willingness to test publically has skyrocketed. It might sound like a vanity issue, but it’s so much deeper than that. It’s about feeling empowered and supported and like it’s okay to make having diabetes a part of your life that you don’t want to hide. And for that, I’m very grateful to you, One Drop!

Lessons Learned

Diabetes has taught me how to love and honor myself. In high school and college, I was cruel to myself. Said horrible things, hated my body, complained about my appearances and my abilities. Now, I truly love how strong and resilient I am. I think I’m beautiful and tough. I don’t look at diabetes as a part of my body having “failed” me, I try to look at it as, “You’re playing a man down, you need to step up the hustle and protect yourself with everything you’ve got.”

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I’ve had my bouts with anxiety and depression related to my diabetes, and I’ve learned, more than ever, that this mindset of self-admiration is the only way to go!

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On the Eleventh Day of Diabadass

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The 11th Day of Diabadass: Meet Tim

You may already know Tim from our Ambassadors feed! Tim Kledhans logs his moments on the regular, inspiring us all. And today, he’s sharing even more inspiration. Check out how it all started.

The Story

“I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about 10 years ago. I went into the doctor for something else; received a call later that week from the doctor’s office that I needed to come back in to discuss my bloodwork. I received three pieces of news: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high A1C. It was a bit of a shock.

It was easy to take the drugs for cholesterol and blood pressure. But I had no idea on what to do for the type 2 diabetes. I asked for education, but it was bad or simply not available. So, I started eating healthy and exercising like crazy. But it wasn’t sustainable. I kept going back to my old ways; my weight kept going up, along with my A1c.

I ended up breaking my leg, which required surgery. During the pre-op checkup, my doctor told me that my A1C was through the roof, and that I we couldn’t go through with it until I got my sugars down. I was put on metformin, and had the surgery.

Then, I purchased my first glucose meter, which I had no idea how to use. Next, I started searching to see if there were any glucose apps for my phone, and I found One Drop. I signed up and had a fantastic One Drop Diabetes Coach, Alexandrea, that listened and helped me with food, diabetes questions, and encouragement. In the two years since I started with One Drop, my A1c has dropped from 7.0% to 5.6% and I have lost about 30 pounds.”

GOALS! 💥 Tim says it was all about getting that proper education that has kept him going. Ditto, Tim!

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The Good Stuff

He and his wife of 31 years, Lisa, love hiking, biking, traveling, photography, and spending time with their dog, Annabelle. And for the last 15 years, Tim has studied and taught two Okinawa martial arts: Shōrin-ryū and OKDR Matayoshi Kobudo. He’s also a Senior Telecommunications Manager, working on projects located all over the country.

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And in everything he does — managing his diabetes, hiking with Lisa and Annabelle, managing all his work projects around the country — Tim is extremely committed. As he likes to explain it, there’s a difference between interest and commitment:

“When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstances permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results. You must be committed and show up if you if want the benefits of results.”

And Tim shows up! As proven by his excellent (and continuous!) blood sugars and A1c results. He recently had a check-in with his doctor. When he pulled up his One Drop app and had monthly glucose averages of 131 mg/dL, 105 mg/dL, and 113 mg/dL, Tim’s doctor was stunned. Talk about commitment! And perseverance! How does he do it?

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“By having a fantastic partner in my wife, Lisa. Lisa has been so supportive and super creative with coming up with food and meal ideas. Like low carb tortillas! A small 4g carb tortilla is great for lunch; a large one is great for pizza.

Also, you’ve got to remember to manage one day at a time. Fall one day get back up the next day. Have a cheat day occasionally. Track carbs.”

Wise words, brought to you by Tim Kledhans! 🏆

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On the Tenth Day of Diabadass

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The 10th Day of Diabadass: Meet Michael

Michael Casto is dad, soulmate, engineer, mountain bike rider, and lover of heavy metal. He also lives with type 2 diabetes. And he’s an all-out diabadass in our book. We reached out to Michael to learn more about what it takes to be a diabadass, and how he got there. Here’s what he told us.

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OD: What’s your diabetes story?

MC: My diabetes story started early in 2017. I’ve always had issues dealing with hypertension for most of my adult life, so I went on a regular doctor visit and they of course checked my blood sugar. I fasted 12 hours before my appointment; when they checked my blood sugar, it was well over 300 mg/dL. That’s when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

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This was a whole new learning experience for me, and I was clueless as to how to change my lifestyle to deal with diabetes. I went to a dietitian, and she mapped out what — and what not — to eat.

But the best advice she gave me, was to download the One Drop app. From that day on, I was following all of the advice from my One Drop Expert: from what to eat, when to eat, and physical activity. It took me a solid 6 months of following all the advice, but I was finally able to drop my A1C from a high 8.0% to a 5.7%, and I lost 48 pounds in the process.

Now, I feel great, I’m in the best shape of my life, and I owe it all to One Drop.

OD: A1c goals! So a little bit less about the diabetes, and more about you.

MC: I’m a father of 5 beautiful daughters, which I feel is the biggest accomplishment of my life. I’m engaged to my best friend and soulmate, and we have a boy dog named Buddy!

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I’m a Production Support Engineer for a company that specializes in air induction parts for some of the biggest car manufacturers in the world. I currently live in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, where I’ve lived for my entire life. I love riding my mountain bike on some of the best trails in the country. I’m also a heavy metal guy. I love listening to loud, heavy music. You know, the screamo type!

OD: Other than your favorite bands’ lyrics, what’s a motto you to try to live by?

MC: It’s something my Dad always told me, and I try to live by it every day: JUST DO IT. He always told me, growing up, that if there is ever something you want to do, no matter how out of reach or hard it may seem, to just do it. And that’s the way I live my life.

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OD: Wise words, for any aspect of life! In terms of diabetes, is there anything you’ve learned since being diagnosed?

MC: Having diabetes has taught me how to eat right and take care of myself. As much as I don’t like it, I’m not sure if I would be in the shape I’m in right now if I wasn’t diagnosed.

OD: What about your best diabetes moment on record?

MC: Finding out that I dropped my A1C down to a 5.7%.

OD: That’s a great moment! Awesome work. 💪 One last thing – if you had all of the time, and none of the cares, what would you do?

MC: I want to travel, and see the world. Me and my soulmate, Tricia, plan on traveling when we retire, and I’m so excited to see different parts of the world! I’m also a huge car guy. I absolutely love old cars, and would love to restore one when I get the time to.

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Major kudos to Michael for reaching his A1c goals! We know the time it took, and effort you put in to get there. Keep up that diabadass spirit!

On the Ninth Day of Diabadass

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The 9th Day of Diabadass: Meet Samaria

Samaria Harris calls herself a Georgia Peach: born, raised, and currently living in central Georgia. 🍑 She lives her life according to the mantra, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” Meaning, that no matter how many times she falls off the wagon, she can always start again by taking that first step, which is exactly the approach she takes towards managing her type 2 diabetes.

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A Diabetes Diagnosis

Samaria’s life with diabetes began in November 2010, when she attended a health and wellness fair at work. A nurse at the fair asked Samaria how long she’d had diabetes, and Samaria politely responded that she didn’t have diabetes. When she later went to see her physician, Samaria discovered that her fasting glucose was 219 mg/dL and that she did, in fact, have diabetes.

The doctor sent her home with a glucometer and prescriptions for metformin, lisinopril and lovastatin. She was told that, with a proper diet and exercise program, there was a possibility that she could get off the medicine and reverse her diabetes. So Samaria set out on a journey. She enlisted the help of a personal trainer. But after a couple of workout sessions, she decided to go at it on her own. When that didn’t work, Samaria finally decided that she needed to get educated on type 2 diabetes.

Walking Her Walk 👣

Today, she manages her diabetes by walking in her truth.

“For so many years, I was in denial. I thought that I would have to give up everything that I loved, food-wise. When I finally accepted the truth that I was a diabetic, it was like a sigh of relief. I was able to look in the mirror and tell the person looking back at me ‘Yes, you have diabetes but diabetes do not have you!’”

Today, Samaria’s been able to make small changes that have huge impacts on her diabetes. She’s a Senior Editor, sitting all day editing and making corrections to manuals. But she loves walking. So every other day, Samaria gets in her 10,000 steps! It doesn’t take her long, and she sees the major benefits those steps have on her blood sugars.

If given the opportunity, Samaria says she probably wouldn’t undo her diabetes diagnosis.

“It’s become a part of me, and has allowed me to learn more about how diet and exercise affect the glucose. Having diabetes has allowed me to talk openly about my specific case and how the highs and the lows affect me.”

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It’s also taught her how important it is to have a strong support system. When she was first diagnosed, she told her youngest sister who was a Biology teacher at the time. Samaria’s sister did her own research, and learned as much as she could about diabetes. As much as Samaria enjoyed her diabetes education class, it was her sister who really educated her; she helped Samaria better and more easily understand what was going on inside of her body.

Today, Samaria walks the walk, talks the talk, and completely owns her diabetes. We could not be more proud to have her in our diabadass family!

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On the Eighth Day of Diabadass

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The 8th Day of Diabadass: Meet Jamie

Jamie Lowe graduated from University in England, and was psyched to start his new (and first) job, in a brand new city. For obvious reasons, it was an exciting and intense time. So when he started having all the usual symptoms of diabetes (frequent urination and insane, unquenchable thirst), he shrugged it off as new job struggles. Little did he know, he was headed straight into DKA. In the hospital, he was told he had type 1 diabetes.

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Since that 2015 diagnosis, Jamie’s been cruising. His job is really flexible; he can get to appointments easily and adjust his days accordingly when his blood sugars aren’t in a cooperating mood. He currently lives in Bristol (in South West England), where he works as a TV Presenter for Bristol Live. Most days, he’s capturing a really hard-hitting news story, trying out new features and products, or interviewing celebs. On the side, Jamie turns his focus onto some sort of passion project, usually blog posts for his website or videos for his YouTube channel.

And during it all, while running around town and filming his latest feature, Jamie always keeps his diabetes top of mind. T1D hasn’t always been so easy for him, though. Just after diagnosis, Jamie had an encounter that has stuck with him.

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“I was sitting in a new desk and the person next to me quite rudely asked me not to inject or test my blood sugar because it disgusted them. At the time, I didn’t say anything. But since then, I made a promise to myself to be unashamedly diabetic. I am tasked with my day-to-day survival, and I couldn’t care less if someone thinks their fear of needles is more important than that.”

In fact, Jamie’s entire T1D outlook has completely changed. He’s in his third year with diabetes and, so far, wouldn’t change a thing. He considers himself healthier since living with type 1:

“Now, I have a constant reminder that my body is only as good as how I treat it. I feel that I’m really in tune with my body and I’m not just inside a machine; it deserves to be looked after. Diabetes has also taught me to allow myself to fail. At first I struggled with having unexpected jumpers and hypos and felt like a failure. But after taking a step back, being mindful and calming down, I was able to deal with the ups and downs better. Mentally, I am stronger now.”

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Now that he’s got his jumpers (⬆️⬆️) and hypos (⬇️⬇️) figured out, Jamie continues to thrive. Staying positive and spreading the good vibes are extremely important to his everyday wellbeing. Jamie also has two younger brothers who help him not only keep on the sunny side, but also step up to the task and look out for him on nights they go out on the town. Jamie continues to crush his everyday, whether it be through manning his diabetes or producing a new film of his own. Next on the list of diabadassery?

“Go to South Korea. I don’t know why, I just have to go.”

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On the Seventh Day of Diabadass

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The 7th Day of Diabadass: Meet Roberta

Roberta Johnson is absolute diabadass perfection. Because she has such a story to tell, we thought it would be best to have her tell it to you herself. Here’s Roberta, in her own words, to tell you her beautiful, powerful, awe-inspiring story: 

“Wow – what a journey! I am a 53-year-old, unbelievably joyful woman who has SO many reasons to be thankful. I have been an educator for 32 years, and have taught choir, band, reading, Interpersonal Communications and theatre. I am currently working on my 3rd graduate degree – this time, a Master’s in School Counseling.

I tend to tell people that my ‘diabetes story’ began about 8 years ago, after my weight had climbed to the point that my knees weren’t handling it anymore. In a ‘routine’ check-up with my doctor (to check rising cholesterol levels and an adequate ‘anxiety medication’ dose for a lengthy period of depression), she discovered that I had diabetes. But really and truly, my journey began with gestational diabetes in 1993. I had GD for 3 out of my 4 pregnancies, and I knew that my risk for T2D was high. I just thought I could hold it off for a long time. However, I was 45 at my T2D diagnosis.

I made a lot of changes at that moment. I lost 30 pounds within a couple of months, and dropped my A1C significantly with metformin, diet, and exercise. That was 2010.

After living in a 25-year difficult marriage, (and all the while, dealing with pain from childhood trauma), I was at a dangerous time in my life. I left that marriage. With the help of a dear friend, I got off all meds for depression. I dug into figuring out how to love myself with the help of several therapists.

Two years ago, I married that dear friend, Darryl. (He also had endured a very difficult marriage.) We have blended our family and have 6 grown children together. The life we now have is full of more laughter and joy – every single day – than I could have ever thought possible. Even though he has gone through two brain surgeries (thankfully, not cancer, but very dangerous), and I was diagnosed with Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma last year, we are the happiest two people that I know.

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With Darryl’s help, I am off metformin and my A1C is at 6.0%. One Drop has been (and is) a huge part of my success in managing my diabetes. Darryl and I work together on stress management, exercise as much as we can, and always focus on being thankful for what we have been given in each other, and in our family. We put each other first, and we make sure laughter is a big part of our life. We look around every day and see evidence of just how amazing life is, everywhere.”

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On the Sixth Day of Diabadass

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The 6th Day of Diabadass: Meet Whitney

On the 6th Day of Diabadass (we’re halfway there!), meet Whitney. Whitney is currently California Dreamin’ in sunny San Diego, but is an East Coast gal (by way of Maryland) at heart. She and her husband have been West Coast for 4 years; the weather, culture, and beautiful beaches are hard to walk away from! ☀️ Whitney currently works in property management, social media marketing and building Happy Pancreas, which is where her type 1 diabetes (T1D) story comes in.

“I love helping others and inspiring them to live their best. My mission with Happy Pancreas is to bring love, support, and guidance to those who feel overwhelmed in their type 1 journey.”

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Whitney was diagnosed with T1D in January of 2014. Leading up to diagnosis, she’d been really sick for a little over a month, and in and out of urgent care. She was being treated for bronchitis and a UTI. Earlier in the month when she visited Washington D.C. with her husband, Whitney constantly had to sit down to take breaks while walking the city. At 26, her heart rate was extremely elevated, forcing her to rest to bring it down. Something was off.

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It was her OBGYN who finally suggested running a full lab panel. And the results gave Whitney her answer. At the ER, she was given her official diagnosis and survival tools. She sobbed in the car with her mom as confusion, fear, and uncertainty set in. But now, almost 5 years later, those feelings have transitioned into confidence, trust, and knowledge.

Mission Statement

“I have made it a personal mission to fight and tackle this disease head on, and feel empowered to live and feel better than someone without a chronic illness.”

Whitney is using this new, empowered perspective to fuel Happy Pancreas, her lifestyle blog and social media platform where she tells the world her T1D story, and help others with their own. Whitney is determined to help others who find themselves in the same T1D situations by providing them with the tools, tweaks, and tips she’s learned along the way. And while she wouldn’t necessarily reverse her diabetes (she’s already learned so many life lessons because of it), she is totally on-board for a cure!

Her greatest accomplishment, without question, is life alongside her husband, Derrick. They’ve been married for 10 years, and have seen lots of seasons together already. Whitney says that it’s Derrick who has been her strongest voice of reason in doubt-filled moments, that he pushes her closer to her best self. ❤️ Amidst her T1D journey, it’s Derrick who’s been Whitney’s anchor and inspiration to give it her all and not let it hold her back from anything she dreams of doing.

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Together, Whitney and Derrick spend their days with their pup, Sable, and in close community with their friends. Whitney also loves to cook (her Insta is loaded with delicious and nutritious recipes and tips!), meditate, and Crossfit! What could possibly make life any better? Living in Paris, Whitney’s number one goal. And judging by her diabadass attitude, she’s going to make it happen! 🤞

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On the Fifth Day of Diabadass

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The 5th Day of Diabadass: Meet Rick

Rick Canales is a native Houstonian. But catch him on any given Sunday, and that just might surprise you; although he’s a diehard Texan, he loves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Go BUCS!). In fact, his number one bucket list item is seeing a Tampa Bay Buccaneers football game at Raymond James Stadium, and hearing the pirate ship cannons fire! But beyond the Bucs, Rick always has and always will love his city.

What could he possibly love more than his Houston, Texas?

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“My wife and son are the world to me. My wife, Edissa, is the most amazing and gorgeous woman on the planet. Our son, Edward, is almost 21 and a Junior at Texas A&M. WHOOP! (It’s an Aggie thing.)”

Rick has a champ’s attitude towards life. “Go Big, or Go Home” is his motto. Which is probably why, when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes back in 2005, he did not let it get the best of him. When he discovered his diabetes by accident (after a post-pancake meal, his blood glucose was 180 mg/dL), he immediately stopped it in its tracks.

Rick has been able to manage his diabetes without insulin, and as of this year, cut back on all his medications after having an A1c of 5.9% three times in a row! And One Drop was there to share in his wins:

“One Drop has helped me track everything: my medication, food, and exercise. And I don’t mind pulling out a cool gadget in public to check my blood sugar.”

We hear you, Rick! And couldn’t agree more. Having a “cool gadget” helps us all feel more empowered in our daily fight. 💪 His perspective on diabetes embodies his champ’s attitude: “I hate having any disease. But if I didn’t have diabetes, then I might tempt fate and get something worse.

Other than championing his diabetes, Rick is hard at work on Process Control Automation. At 50, he’s still very much an avid gamer. He loves being on the couch with his Edissa, binge watching TV while simultaneously playing videogames on another TV. You’d probably catch him binge watching all the Stars Wars movies: his second favorite holiday (next to Christmas) is May the 4th Be With You.

Rick, thank you for sharing your champion outlook with us, and setting a diabadass example for us all!

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On the Fourth Day of Diabadass

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The 4th Day of Diabadass: Meet Virelle

We met Virelle through her son (shoutouts to all the kids out there, looking out for their parents!), who was on the hunt for something to help out his mom when she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. When Virelle’s son, David, introduced her to One Drop, everything changed.

“I never knew something like One Drop existed. It’s a miracle combination of friends, experts, practical tools, and community. Now, I could track my eating habits (honestly, that was a real eye-opener) and see how I’d gained all this weight. It took nearly six months to lose thirteen pounds and my A1C had barely budged. I signed up for test strips and a counselor, Dr. Mark, who was simply excellent. He was honest and kind, extremely helpful and knowledgeable. No one else had as many practical answers.”

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And since then, Virelle has been on a roll. She started this journey at a 6.9% A1c at diagnosis; she was exhausted, felt lousy, and assumed her problem was age, weight, and depression. But after she was given the proper tools and knowledge she needed to better understand and manage her diabetes, Virelle shed 25 pounds in six months, and dropped her A1c down to a healthy 5.9%. ROCKSTAR STATUS. 🤘

It’s the Little Things

Beyond the scope of lowering A1c and seeing better numbers, what’s all this greatness taught Virelle?

“Little things matter. Little bites, little efforts in the right direction, little words of encouragement from others.”

It really is the little things. And for Virelle, learning that sentiment is worth the journey.

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Currently, Virelle is loving retirement! Now that she’s got her blood sugars where she wants them, she’s able to take time for herself and her husband of 52 years (!), and travel to see her four grown kids and 11 grandchildren. With seven published books under her belt, Virelle is finally able to focus on painting. She’s loving learning all the new strokes tremendously! 🖌

Would she undo her diabetes, given all the obstacles it’s caused her?

“I would not undo the challenge, the need to finally discipline my body.”

How cool is that? And true! Because if we’re really, truly are attempting to take care of ourselves and better manage our diabetes, we probably are living way better than we ever would be without it. You can thank Virelle for that positive spin.  😉

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