Kiss Diabetes Goodbye!
Us Barton girls stick together - it's a proven fact. And when a Barton girl emails me about her efforts to raise funds for diabetes research, I have to do what I can to help her raise awareness. Meet Valerie Riordan, both a fellow Bartonian and a type 1 diabetic, and her campaign to Kiss Diabetes Goodbye!
Kerri: What is your diabetes story?
Valerie: I, like you, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in August 1986. Twenty two years ago this week. It was one week before my 11th birthday. That was one birthday I'll never forget! I remember seeing the doctor the day after I was diagnosed. He told me I couldn't have cake and ice cream at my birthday party. I was devastated. What's a birthday party without cake and ice cream?! And so a life with diabetes began.
It hasn't always been an easy road. I am very thankful that early on I found many friends and a very large support group in Clara Barton Camp. At home I was the only one in school who had diabetes. At camp I was one of many. I loved being in a place where everyone understood. I wish those camp years could have lasted forever.
However, my camp days did come to an end, and when they did I suffered a little diabetes rebellion. I didn't want diabetes, so I was going to pretend I didn't have it. I cut so far back on my insulin that I pretty much wasn't taking any. The same was true for food. That was pretty much nonexistent as well. Of course I wasn't seeing my endo at this point either. I got very, very skinny, but in my mind I was in control. Even though my diabetes wasn't.
Fortunately for me, there was a new endo at the office I went to. She really helped rescue me. She got me and my diabetes back on the right track. She was very encouraging and didn't lecture me. With her rooting me on, I worked really hard to pull things together. But there were still a lot of ups and downs.
Then in August 2000 I got married. A year later, my husband and I were ready to start a family. Then before I could even come up with a plan with my endo, I found out I was pregnant. I, very quickly, whipped myself into shape with a lot of help from my endo. When I was 4 months pregnant my endo started me on my first insulin pump. Suddenly I was in the best control I had ever been in. My A1C went from 8 to 4.8! I amazed even myself. My very healthy baby boy was born in May 2002. Then I was blessed again with a beautiful little girl in August 2005.
Now at ages 6 and almost 3, they are seasoned veterans of diabetes. They watch me do my blood tests everyday. In fact I had to give my daughter one of my old machines to play with. She kept swiping mine because she wanted to do a blood test like mommy. They know mommy's pump is not a toy, but occasionally they get to help mommy by pushing the blue button. My daughter loves to help me out by putting my pump in my pocket for me. They know that when mommy's blood sugar is low I need sugar fast and they know exactly which soda to get out of the refrigerator for me. And my son amazed me when he had to get blood taken one day. They put the needle in and he didn't even flinch. He said he knew it wouldn't hurt because he watches mommy get it done all the time.
They don't know my life without diabetes. They only know their mommy has diabetes. For all they know I've always had it. That's okay for now, but I hope someday that will change.
For now I just do my best to take care of myself, not only for myself, but for them. So I may enjoy watching them grow for as long as I can.
Kerri: What is the inspiration behind 'Kiss Diabetes Goodbye'?
Valerie: A friend of mine, who's son has diabetes, told me about Dr. Faustman and the research she was doing. (Editor's Note: YAY Dr. Faustman!) She was very enthusiastic about wanting to do something to raise money for this project and she wanted me to be involved in it. She had an idea of what she wanted to do, but couldn't quite seem to make it happen.
Also, the mom's group that my friend and I belong to was getting involved in doing community service projects. They were looking for fund raising ideas and charities to give to. So, I began thinking of some ideas.
While I was trying to come up with something, I came across this idea on the Arbonne yahoo group that I belong to. It seemed like perfect timing!
Kerri: What makes your fundraiser different from all the other diabetes fundraisers?
Valerie: Having a son in elementary school, I've seen many fundraisers come through my house. I feel this fundraiser is unique because it's different than anything I've ever seen, it's affordable and it's something I would use.
In fact I do use lip gloss....every day. (Editor's Note: So do I.) So do most women I know. Also, many teens and even little girls love lip gloss. My two year old daughter loves to swipe mine out of my purse and use it! So, I know this fundraiser would appeal to many people.
A lot of times, with my son's school fundraisers, I find myself spending more money than I want on stuff I don't really need. In times like these when money is tight, most people would be willing to buy something they are already using, especially if they know it's for a good cause. It wouldn't have to be an extra expense.
Kerri: Why did you choose to support Dr. Faustman's research?
Valerie: For over twenty years I have heard that there will be a cure in my lifetime. Throughout those years I have heard many, many stories about new research and new procedures, but still no news about a cure. After so many years of getting my hopes up at every story and nothing coming from it, you kind of stop believing that a cure is going to happen. And all the stories become just that....stories.
But something happened when I read Dr. Faustman's story. Something about this was different. Maybe it was just me, I don't know, but this was the first time I'd ever read a story and it felt real. It felt like, wow, this could really happen. We're really close to something.
Editor's Note again: For more information on Valerie and her valiant efforts to raise both awareness and funds for a cure, and to get involved with Kiss Diabetes Goodbye!, contact Valerie directly at Star82600@hotmail.com. Tell her you saw her on SUM!