Michelle Brettmann Was Diagnosed as Type 1 at a Very Young Age

Michelle Brettmann was 15 months old and living in California when her parents thought that she was having an asthma attack. They brought Michelle to the Emergency Room at Kaiser Permanente in Panorama City, Calif. Her ER doctor was on loan from the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and after doing a workup they discovered Type 1 diabetes. 


“It was 1969 and back then they didn’t check people’s blood sugar levels,” Michelle explains, “they tested the urine. The dilemma was how to handle my diabetes. I weighed 22 pounds. One unit of insulin would have been too much for me. 


“My physicians contacted the Lilly Corp. (now Eli Lilly & Co.) for a small dose of insulin. The people at Lilly responded quickly and the insulin worked. After three weeks in the hospital I went home.”


Her parents later told Michelle that she was the youngest person in the U.S. to be diagnosed in 1969. 


Since then Michelle, who is 51, has done some exercise each week. “I have also been on the Medtronic MiniMed pump for 20 years and it administers insulin every hour if it’s needed,” Michelle says. “My feeling is a pump is better than long-acting insulin because it’s very accurate. It works like a substitute pancreas.”   


Testing her blood sugar levels on a regular basis works for Michelle. She follows up with her endocrinologist every few months and Michelle reports that her latest A1C was 6. She and her doctors are pleased with that number. 


Michelle and her husband, Tom, have been living in Arizona for 30 years. They like to relax in Oak Creek Canyon and she enjoys photography as a hobby. “Where I live there are beautiful sunsets and great landscapes to photograph,” Michelle notes. “Using my camera gets me out in the fresh air and keeps me moving around.


“My parents also moved from California to Arizona, close to where my husband and I live, so these days we get to visit each other often. It’s all about enjoying life.”


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