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How My Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis Made Me A Runner

By: Alex Reidy

Alex Reidy is a Development Coordinator at JDRF and writes about her experience with Type 1 Diabetes on her blog, Iced Coffee & Insulin. She will be running the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon with Team JDRF and is sharing her story about how her journey with T1D led her to this race.

At the time, I thought that my type 1 diabetes diagnosis was catastrophic. I left the hospital confused, upset, and completely alone. My perspective of diabetes had been flooded with images of overweight people who didn’t eat healthy, or “ate too much candy”. I felt so much guilt and anger because I thought that I had given this disease to myself. The lack of education that I received that day immediately spiraled my mind into anger and sadness.

I was diagnosed on June 23, 2013, about 3 months before I would be transferring to a new college across the country, and 5 months before my 21st birthday. I was an endocrinologist’s dream when I was first diagnosed: taking my insulin regularly, always checking my blood sugars, and eating and exercising regularly.

I shed that “perfect” patient persona when I found myself surrounded by a new environment at school. I hid my diabetes, I took my insulin when I wanted to, and I didn’t always check my blood sugar. I went out multiple times a week, in addition to having a heavy course load and being involved in any extracurricular activities. The combination of poor management, heavy drinking, and lack of sleep was devastating to my body. I was hospitalized multiple times and dealt with pneumonia, mononucleosis, and the flu.

The biggest reality check came when I returned back to my endocrinologist and received my A1C levels (an average of your blood sugar levels over a span of 3 months). It was dangerously high. My doctor was blunt, and he told me that my lack of care was going to cost me serious consequences down the road. That was the first time that someone had really knocked some sense into me about how serious type 1 diabetes is.

Over the next few days I had to take a step back and think about how I wanted my life to go. I could continue to be careless to my body or I could step up and take ownership of the cards that I have been dealt with.

In the end, I chose to fight. I threw myself into working with organizations that dedicated their missions to advocating, supporting, and ultimately finding a cure for type 1 diabetes. I started off as an intern for the American Diabetes Association, and eventually found my way to becoming a Development Coordinator for JDRF. My experience at JDRF has been nothing short of incredible and rewarding.

Involving myself with JDRF gave me the opportunity to become a part of Team JDRF events: endurance races across the country that grant a certain number of spots to those involved with JDRF. I jumped at the chance to get involved and saw that a majority of the events were about running.

Running and I have a funny relationship. In high school and college lacrosse, running was used as a punishment. Our coach would threaten us with running extra laps or sprints if we made a mistake on the field. Running meant pain, exhaustion, and failure to me. Running meant training all summer for the dreaded run tests, which I lost countless hours of sleep over. There was never a “runner’s high”; I never felt that feeling.

After my days of lacrosse ended, I started to get back into running more on my own time. I didn’t need to time myself or calculate the distance, I would just jog around and see how far I could go. At that point, I was able to truly ENJOY running. I was able to feel the power of my legs, hear the cadence of my steps, and hear my breath as I pushed myself farther and farther each time.

Running has also been an incredible escape from type 1 diabetes. Being able to plug in my headphones and let my feet carry me has not only lowered my blood sugars, but it’s a way to “check out” for a few hours. After about 30 minutes of running, I can usually feel that “runner’s high” kick into gear. I feel a sense of strength and power, and I want to go faster and farther.

I completed my first half-marathon for Team JDRF in March and knew that I wanted to fulfill a life-long goal of running a marathon. I immediately signed up to run the TCS NYC Marathon for Team JDRF and am proud to say that I convinced my older sister, Jillian, to run on the team with me.

Training for a marathon has been a mental and physical challenge. The mental side of training was tough: waking up at the crack of dawn or late night to fit in a run, dealing with aches and pains from training, fitting in the workout when you’re exhausted. Throw in running with type 1 diabetes, and that is another obstacle. I need to keep track of how much insulin I have in my system before I start running, carry emergency supplies when I’m heading low, and constantly be checking my blood sugar to see how I’m doing. There have been frustrating runs where I’ve had to stop and turn around because I was going too low, and runs where I was so mentally exhausted from a bad blood sugar day that I had to walk.

However, I motivate myself with the mentality that I CAN DO THIS. When my legs feel like iron rods, my sides are cramping up, and I can feel the salt forming on my skin, there is a moment when I take a step back and think about what I am truly running for.

I always have pushed myself with the mantra, mind over matter. A positive mind can give you the power to achieve and overcome obstacles that you didn’t think were possible.

I’m so excited to participate in the NYC Marathon this weekend and I couldn’t imagine running for any other organization but JDRF.

 

Make sure to check out our Instagram stories this weekend as Alex @icedcoffeeandinsulin brings us along for her first TCS NYC Marathon experience! #SPIBELTxJDRF

Receiving a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis can be overwhelming, and we are committed to helping families looking for a pump carrying solution. SPIbelt is not only great for holding small personal items while running, but it’s also great for discretely carrying lifesaving medical supplies. Our medical SPIbelts can carry CGMs, insulin pumps, inhalers, and much more.  

 Learn more about how you can receive 50% off your first diabetic SPIbelt.

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It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Do You Know Your Risk?

In the coming month, you may notice that orange and black aren’t the only colors you see trending everywhere. You’ll likely see pink take over, too, and for a good reason: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the United States. This month, the color pink becomes more than just a girly shade. In October, pink is tough. It is strong. It works to honor survivors and raise awareness for a disease that has taken so much from so many people. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, SPIbelt has partnered with the Breast Cancer Resource Center, an Austin nonprofit staffed by breast cancer survivors that provides guidance, education, and assistance to thousands of women whose lives have been disrupted by breast cancer. Together, we’ve created the pink ribbon SPIbelt— $1 from each belt purchased will go towards helping the brave women fighting this terrible disease.

Breast cancer is the second most common form of Cancer in American women—so common, in fact, that one in eight women will be diagnosed in their lifetime. Keep reading to learn about how to assess your risk and help lower your chances of receiving a breast cancer diagnosis.

How do I know if I’m at risk?

If you’re a living, breathing person, you’re at risk for getting breast cancer. Even men can get breast cancer, although their chances are much, much lower. There are, however, a number of things that increase your risk—some you can control, and some you can’t.

Family History

If someone in your immediate family has been diagnosed with breast cancer, your risk of a similar diagnosis is almost twice as high as women without a family history of breast cancer.

Dense Breast Tissue

If a doctor has ever told you that your breast tissue is dense, meaning you have more connective tissue than fatty tissue, you’re more likely to get breast cancer.

Birth Control

If you’ve taken oral contraceptives for 5 or more years—even nonconsecutively—you have an increased risk of breast cancer.

Age

You’re more likely to get breast cancer as you get older, and most women are diagnosed after they turn 50.

Alcohol Consumption

Studies show that for every one drink that you consume each day on average, your risk of breast cancer increases by 10%.

Menstrual History

If you started your period before the age of 12, you’re more likely to get breast cancer.

Pregnancy

Your risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer is higher if you’ve never been pregnant or if you had your first child after your 30th birthday.

Exercise

If you don’t get an average of 30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week, you have an increased risk of breast cancer.

Genetic Mutation

An inherited mutation, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2, puts you at greater risk of a breast cancer diagnosis.

*This list is not a comprehensive representation of all breast cancer risk factors. To better assess your risk, please speak with your doctor or visit https://www.assessyourrisk.org.

How can I reduce my risk?

While there is no way to ensure that you will never receive a breast cancer diagnosis, there are a number of ways to reduce your risk.

 Cut back on alcohol consumption.

Drinking less alcohol can lower your risk of breast cancer by 10% or more.

 Get enough exercise.

30 minutes of exercise, 5 days a week lowers the risk of breast cancer. Kill two birds with one stone with our new pink ribbon SPIbelt —you’ll be able to exercise hands-free, and we’ll donate $1 from each purchase to the Breast Cancer Research Center.

 Know your family history.

Take inventory of your family history. If you have an immediate family member that has been diagnosed with breast cancer, your doctor will likely recommend that you begin getting yearly mammograms at a younger age than women without a family history of breast cancer.

 Be self-aware.

Know your own normal so that you can recognize when symptoms arise— when they do, visit your doctor.

While there’s no sure way to prevent breast cancer, knowing your risk is the best way to take steps toward reducing the likelihood that you’ll receive a diagnosis. Know your body. Know your history. Talk to your healthcare provider. Be proactive about your health. This October, SPIbelt is partnering with the Breast Cancer Resource Center to fight back against breast cancer, and we hope you’ll join us.

*All research and statistics referenced in this blog pulled from www.brightpink.org, www.breastcancer.org, and www.cdc.gov.

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From Illness to Ultramarathon: A Fight Against Hashimoto’s Disease

illness to ultramarathon

It was 2008, and at 5’3″ and 178lbs, I no longer recognized the girl in the mirror. My 110 lb, size 0 frame was long gone. I was sleeping 20 hours a day and wearing a heart monitor. My digestive system had shut down almost completely. I couldn’t even feed myself cereal. The spoon would be empty with shaking from the effort it took trying to get the spoon from the bowl to my mouth. I was depressed and weak. In fact, I was dying. It would take several years, numerous tests, and a partial diagnosis of a thyroid problem before I would start feeling somewhat normal again. The doctors would diagnose and treat me for an under active thyroid. We didn’t realize they were wrong.

Over the next five years, I would lose weight and gain energy, only to gain weight and lose energy a few months later when my body rejected my medicine. It was a slow, painful dance. The constant weight change and sleep patterns weighed heavily on me. I was full of anxiety and terrified I would return to that helpless, obese woman.

The Fall of 2013 was life changing for me. It was not because my doctors found the right answers, but rather a combination of two unrelated things. I had finally decided to start fighting aggressively for my life and I was desperate to find out what was causing my 10 year old to have tummy aches.

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The SPIbelt Guy and the Road to Recovery with RunLab

Hi! My name is Bobby and I’m The SPIbelt Guy. You may have seen me at different race expos around the country repping SPIbelt or on some of our product tags (I know, I’m famous). Saying that I’m passionate about running is an understatement. I’ve run 26 marathons and wasn’t planning on stopping until I got severely injured last year. Here’s the story of my road to recovery with the help of my friends at RunLab, a sports medicine and performance clinic for runners here in Austin.
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LIVE LAUGH PUMP

We get so many fun pics of SPIbelt users. Our favorites, hands down, are the ones we receive from our young pumpers who’ve been diagnosed with T1 diabetes. Ava is one of these young rock stars who has gone through some pretty challenging stuff at a young age.CONTINUE READING

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Running With the Best

– By Kim Overton

When I first came out with the SPIbelt in 2007, I was fulfilling my own immediate need – to create a belt that does not bounce, will hold all of my running essentials, is secure, discreet and good-looking. As the brand grew and company grew, I learned from my customers that we had not only created the best running belt on the market for function, security, and flexibility, but we created one of the most comfortable and affordable solutions for people needing to carry special medial devices.CONTINUE READING

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Follow Erin’s Journey: Dam That Cancer!

Erin Hood, SPIbelt’s International Sales Manager (pictured furthest on the left), is no stranger to the emotional stress that one must undergo when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer. As someone who has had not one, but both parents diagnosed with cancer, Erin knows all too well the kind of emotional support that is needed. Now in her 4th year, Erin raises money for The Flatwater Foundation’s annual event, Dam That Cancer which provides  access to mental and physical therapies to patients and families dealing with cancer diagnosis.

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