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Daily frustrations/excitements of a diabetic, student, and entrepreneur 

Pumpstash Goes Global

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Pumpstash first started because as a high school athlete, I was sick of my pump slowing me down. I never want diabetes to be what stops me from trying new things or living how I want. I want to challenge myself and not let one dysfunctional organ hold me back. That often means there is an extra layer (or five) of complication, but learning to accept and embrace those challenges teaches me so much, rather than staying in a safe zone.

Tomorrow, I’m heading to Cape Town, South Africa to study abroad for the next five months. Now that I’ve survived the logistical nightmare of coordinating classes, travel, insurance, doctors, and diabetes supplies, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me in a brand new place.

It’s sometimes easier to build a barrier around diabetes that encourages me to be safe and timid. While I am climbing past of my metaphorical barrier by climbing Cape Town’s famous mountains, trying scary new food, and running around a new city, I want to share my experiences, and hopefully see your experiences too. Follow (and add to!) the journey with #BreakMyBarrier on the Pumpstash blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. This idea and hashtag is not about avoiding responsibilities and major parts of my life, but rather embracing my restraints and learning how to navigate around and through them.

Show us how you can #BreakMyBarrier (whether it is diabetes related or not) please hashtag your photo so we can see!

Pumpstash will continue to operate as usual while I am abroad, so place your orders at www.pumpstash.com/store today.

 

 

 

Taking a Break

I've always been adamant that diabetes did not define me, and I was not going to let it dictate my life. As a teenager, I stepped away from diabetes advocacy and support groups and decided to focus on diabetes solely by dealing with blood sugars and boluses.

Over the last year and a half, and particularly the last 6 months diabetes has re-entered my life in a big way. I launched Pumpstash just over a week ago and have been tirelessly working on it in the months leading up to the Kickstarter campaign and more recently the launch. 

Having diabetes so present in my life in the professional sense, has lead to me slacking on my diabetes care. When I'm sending emails, drafting social media posts, and coordinating logistics of the shorts, I'm always thinking about diabetes from a macro level and don't want to think about it how it relates to me.

When I'm in class or back in my apartment at the end of the day, I am done for the day. This means that I have not been wearing my sensor for the last few weeks, but I'm checking my blood sugar as little as if I was, I haven't been cooking healthy or balanced meals, and I've slipped into old habits of a 10 unit dinner or a 4 unit breakfast instead of counting my carbs.

I've also stepped away from non-Pumpstash diabetes interactions. Last winter and spring I got to know so many interesting and cool people with diabetes that were doing a lot for the community and were a great outlet to feel the frustration over a bad number or to laugh at a dumb pancreas joke no one else would find funny. I got to meet a number of people in person, but especially over social media in Instagram posts and Twitter chats.

Overall, I haven't been feeling 100% (hmm wonder why) and need to step it up with diabetes management. I also miss interacting and connecting with people from all over the world that share many of the same struggles as me, and understand blowing off my sensor, but also understand the importance.

So tonight, when I get home, I'm going to put my sensor in and while I wait 2 hours to enter my blood sugar, I'm going to participate in the Twitter chat and get back into diabetes management and the diabetes community. 

 

19 Year Diaversary Reflection

August 1st, 2015 marked the 19 year anniversary of my diabetes. 19 is no significant benchmark, 1, 5, and 10 years were all passed quite a while ago and 25 is still a ways away. 19 is striking though, simply because it’s a lot of years. It’s a lot of finger pricks, sites changes, hastily gulped juice boxes, and dizziness because of a forgotten boluses.

Control of diabetes is incredibly important, it’s always been ingrained into my head that having steady numbers and an A1C under 8 are incredibly important for long term health. As I headed into my teen years, hormones, teenage attitudes, and newfound independence meant my numbers weren’t as steady as they used to be. With the addition of the CGM, I was able to see through concrete graphs that even though my A1C stayed in the normal range, my numbers were a yo-yo of highs and lows. My A1C became an average of the 277 that flew down to 55 with an aggressive treatment, and back up to 294 after an even more aggressive treatment.

Especially now that not only am I out of the teen years, but my diabetes almost is too, I’m seriously considering the implications of crazy numbers on my long-term health. I’m starting to understand my Mom’s panic of a nasty cut on my foot. I used to roll my eyes but now scrub anything I see clean and am constantly checking up on it. Or the moment of panic when optometrist thought he saw an irregularity in my eye before laughing and saying “oh wait, that’s just a smudge on the machine!” Control is of course about feeling good on a day-to-day basis, but also crucial for my health in the next 5, 10, 15 years. Issues that seemed so far off when I was 13, 14, or 15 years old are now hitting me that it’s up to me when (and if) these problems will arrive.

My numbers have steadied, but not as much as I would like. I still feel panicked when 10 minutes after juice, my 51 still has a down arrow on the CGM. I start to reach for an extra few ounces of juice, just a couple more crackers or another glucose tab or two even though I know that will leave me high later. I’ve wrapped up my teen years and am now fully settled into college. Hormones, a new place with new independence, and teenage attitudes are no longer excuses for wild numbers. I know that everyone forgets a bolus every now and again or has a justification for their endo why they were running high all day and still ate the bowl of pasta. I know I’m never going to have perfect numbers, but I do want to always improve. My goal for my 19th year of diabetes is patience. Work on transitioning my intellectual understanding that numbers can take a while to readjust back to normal after running high or low to actual understanding and practice of that concept. With that being said, take the few minutes to sit down and wait for my numbers to improve instead treating extra and continuing the workout or eating my dinner before my numbers are in normal range will make a huge difference. Patience has never been my strong point, but looking forward, as I am easing into my adulthood (and my diabetes is joining me), I’m not sure there is anything more important.

Fashion Unconscious

 

My go to outfits are mostly jeans and t-shirts and my idea of dressing that up include adding a sweater and mascara. Hanging out at Lincoln Center during fashion week leaves me with more confusion than envy. Needless to say, fashion isn’t really my thing.

Girl much cooler than I in an elevator in the Garment District in NYC wearing a mid-July black outfit and scissors for a necklace 

Girl much cooler than I in an elevator in the Garment District in NYC wearing a mid-July black outfit and scissors for a necklace 

Me in the same elevator with shoes solely for comfort and as few clothes I could get away with in the NYC heat  

Me in the same elevator with shoes solely for comfort and as few clothes I could get away with in the NYC heat  

 

Pumpstash however, has forced me to make fashion a little bit more my thing. Previously my fashion knowledge didn’t have to go further than whether or not gold or silver or black or brown could be worn together. Now I need to know the difference between a stitch that serged in the front and back and folded back with a topstitch and a stitch that serged than stitched down with a triple needle cover stitch. Not only do I need to know the difference between the two, but the stitch dictates the price, durability, and comfort of the finished piece. When trying to make a high quality product, especially one that is holding a device as expensive and important as the pump, it’s important I make informed decisions.

I have spent months wandering the garment district in NYC, researching fabrics, cuts, and stitches online, and talking to countless industry people and I think I’m making the best decisions but am still a little unsteady about all the different options and the minor, but important differences between them all.

I’ve learned so many things about the fashion industry that I never would have learned about otherwise. I’ve learned about all of the hard work, care, and concern that go into making a sample, and then converting the sample into a variety of sizes in a way that ensure the integrity of the sample is held up. I’ve learned there is an entire industry that is dedicated to the process that occurs between the basic sketches of an idea for a dress (or spandex shorts with pockets) and the beginning of manufacturing.

A "sketch" of Pumpstash I made that proves why there need to be a lot of steps between this and a finished product  

A "sketch" of Pumpstash I made that proves why there need to be a lot of steps between this and a finished product  

Last week I headed back down to the garment district to pick up my markers, a guide to cutting and styling the fabric to ensure fabric is used efficiently and the proportions and dimensions of the garment are accurate, and to meet with the manufacturer. Almost everything is lined up and ready to move to production. The fabric is all ordered and delivered at the factory in the Bronx, the manufacturer and I long ago reached an agreement on timeline and price, the markers were finished and ready to go. As we met and went over some final details and I got ready to give them a green light, he brought up something I never even thought of.

A box of markers and some designers working i

A box of markers and some designers working i

The U.S. requires every garment produced and sold to have a label with washing and care instructions, and the consumer obviously would like to make sure the size they ordered is the one they want. I felt so frustrated, I thought I had done all my research and had covered every base. Luckily, the label is an easy fix. Since they are required by every garment, they are easy to find and shouldn’t delay production. Even though it’s an easy fix, it reminded me how outside of the fashion world I feel sometimes. I try to remind myself that it’s ridiculous to think I would be an expert after a year of poking my head around in the fashion industry, and that I have amazing and supportive people on my side that remind me about the labels and will always explain the difference between a pattern, grader, and marker when I get confused.

I'm confident in the fashion decisions I've made for Pumpstash so far and will continue to get my toes wet and learn while we move further into production and start expanding the business. 

Special Thanks

I am just shy of a month after reaching the Pumpstash Kickstarter goal. 61 awesome people donated money and sent me equally wonderful notes of support. 

I've spent the last month writing thank you notes and coordinating production. As the Kickstarter date draws further away and the beginning of production draws closer, it's important to give special thanks to the people that donated a little extra to really help get Pumpstash off the ground. 

When I first was creating the campaign and the reward tiers, I included "special feature on Pumpstash's website" for anyone that donated $100 or more. The original intent was to feature the 10 or so people that donated with a few questions about them and why they supported Pumpstash. That was the plan, until 25 people donated $100, $250, or $500. Trying to coordinate interviews and posts with all 25 donors seems a little out of reach, so instead I'm writing this post to give a shout out to these very kind donors.

Thank you so much again: Mary Mahoney, Jeanne Lynch, Julie Solomon, Michael Gold, Christa MacLean, Cara Beston, Jenn Peterson, Chris Crawford, Janet McNulty, Kathleen Ferguson, Maura Roszyk, Ann Logan, Joe Battle, Jordan Catalana, Fred and Evelyn McNulty, Lois Lavelle, Anne Haas, Eileen Bockoff, Emily Tinsley, Evan and Suzette Cohen, Matthew Peterson, Harry Wilcox, Claire and Joe Logan, and Rich Ahl.

Thank you again, and am thinking of you as production begins!