By Claire M. Lynch
She was four years old when Brianna Derksen’s parents took her to a doctor’s appointment. Various tests were run and the results came back as Type 1.
In hindsight, Brianna wasn’t surprised because there is diabetes on her father’s side of the family. Her paternal grandfather and her aunt were both Type 1.
Now 24, Brianna takes Novalog for her short-acting insulin and Lantus for her long-acting insulin. She is careful about what she eats and tests her blood sugar levels often. “I don’t like to guess about my blood sugar levels,” Brianna says. “Testing them several times a day is the best way to know exactly what’s going on then I adjust my medication accordingly.”
Her highest A1C was 11.2 and now it’s dropped significantly. “Maintaining a low-carb diet has gotten to be routine,” Brianna explains. “Drinking plenty of water each day is important plus I include some exercise and take my medication as prescribed. It’s going well.”
She and her husband, Howie, are lifelong residents of Michigan. They have a young son who hasn’t started school yet so whenever the weather is good Brianna takes him for long walks in the fresh air.
Brianna, a homemaker, is employed part-time doing machine work in a tool and dye shop. “Working about 30 hours a week gives me the chance to get out and focus on my job,” Brianna notes. “I get to learn new things and be with co-workers.”
She has also joined some support groups for Type 1 diabetics near her home. “They are a good place to talk with people about any concerns I may have,” Brianna says. “When we’re discussing different issues I get ideas about how to best manage my Type 1 and I also make suggestions to others. The best part about being in a support group is I feel encouraged about forging ahead and staying on track. I get inspired.”
Her tips for other diabetics? “Once you’re diagnosed don’t wait to plug in and take care of yourself,” Brianna notes. “Be proactive. Ask for help if you need it. Diabetes is manageable and you can live a long pain-free, happy and content life if you do the right things. Staying on track is key but once you get into a good routine it can be done.”