For National Diabetes Awareness Month, we invited a guest writer to tell her story about being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). Meet Ashley Neuhaus - a runner who found out she was diagnosed with T1D at the age of 28. Read on as she shares her inspiring story of how she’s conquering milestones after being diagnosed.
On Feb 23, 2017, my life changed forever. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of 28 after going into severe Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). My daily routine was filled with finger pricks, insulin injections, high and low blood sugars, diabetes educators, and Endocrinologist appointments.
Running was always a big part of my life. My T1D diagnosis made me question if I could continue running. I was determined to figure it out. So, I signed up for a 5K and began training just 1 month after being released from the hospital. With just a glucose meter and MDI (multiple daily injections) therapy, I sprinted across the finish line on May 21, 2017 less than 3 months after my diagnosis. I proved to myself that I could still run like my pre-T1D self.
Next Goal: I wanted to run my first 10K. I was inspired by the T1D runners in the 2017 New York City Marathon. I thought, “If they can figure out how to run 26 miles with type 1, then I could run 6!”
I’ll be honest - it was not easy. My start of my 10K training was a struggle. I could not run farther than 3 miles without my blood glucose (BG) plummeting. My body and endurance were there, but my T1D was holding me back. There were days where I felt like I could run 10 miles, but my BG was like, “NOPE!” A few times, I had to stop running and sit on the sidewalk to treat a severe low and wait for it to rise enough just to make the dispiriting walk back home.
I was discovering how running “blindly” without the help of a CGM (constant glucose monitor) was incredibly difficult. I needed the ability to see my BG numbers while running. So, I worked up the courage to wear a device on my body and asked my Endocrinologist for a Dexcom G6 prescription. I started using it in April 2018 and it was a GAME CHANGER. This device inserted a flexible sensor wire under my skin and sent a BG reading every 5 minutes to an app on my phone.
I started collecting SPIbelts to hold my phone during my runs. To avoid pulling my phone in and out of my belt during my run, I purchased an Apple Watch which made it easy to glance down to view my blood sugar level. Now, I had the technology I needed, but I still needed to figure out how to stabilize my BG levels.
Every single day with T1D is different. It is a literal science experiment. A very frustrating science experiment. A key to my success was keeping a running journal in order to see patterns and what worked best for my body. I’ve always used MDI therapy so I did not have the luxury of ‘suspending’ or having a ‘temp basal’ like insulin pump users.
Running Journal Tacker:
- Date and time I took short-acting insulin
I needed to wait around 3 hours for the insulin to leave my system before I went on a run. Having any insulin on board caused me to go low after 1 mile of running.
- Start and end time of my run
Certain times of day seemed to affect my BG more than others. I typically ran in the afternoons before lunch when possible or early evenings before dinner.
- My blood sugar levels at the beginning and end of my run
This helped me discover the ideal range for my blood sugar (160 - 190 mg/dL worked best for me) to be at the start of a run. I wanted enough wiggle room for my BG to drop and level out during my run.
- What snack I ate during my run
I tried everything: chews, gels, protein bars, candy, gum, etc. All were recommended from other runners, but nothing worked for me. They either kicked in too slowly and made my blood sugar spike after my run, were too difficult to chew while running, or came in very unappetizing flavors. I wanted a solution that didn’t hinder my breathing or slow down my pace.
Finally, I remembered how a very small amount of juice affects my blood sugar. It is the most affective way of treating low blood sugar. So, I strapped a small running water bottle to my SPIbelt and filled it with regular Gatorade and set out on my run. I kept my eye on my Dexcom reading and started taking a sip of Gatorade as soon as I saw my blood sugar level dropping. I continued running towards mile 4 taking 2-3 sips per mile. For the first time ever, I glanced down at my watch on mile 5 and saw my blood sugar graph had level out! I completed my very first 6.2 mile run with the biggest smile on my face.
On August 12, 2018 I completed the Camarillo Marathon 10K race and placed 2nd in my age division, which I never expected!
Next goal: Run in a Half Marathon
SPIBELT'S T1DSPI PROGRAM
SPIbelt is committed to supporting families who have recently received a Type 1 diagnosis or who are still looking for a pump/CGM carrying solution through our T1DSPI program, and we are offering 50% OFF a Diabetic SPIbelt. Our SPIbelts can be comfortably and discreetly worn so that diabetics can have their continuous glucose monitors, insulin pumps, syringes, fast-acting emergency glucose, and insulin vials and pens ready at all times.
You can sign up for our T1DSPI Program and get your 50% OFF code via this link (scroll to the bottom).