Talking Type 1: Brittani Leopold

Think type 1 diabetes is just for kids? Think again.

Because it was thought to only strike children and teens, type 1 was known as juvenile diabetes for a long time. The truth is a growing number of adults are being diagnosed with it in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond.

All week long, we will present stories from adults who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, describing the emotions and frustrations that came with their experiences. Each person defines success in different ways, but they all celebrate the triumphs that have helped them reach their goal of living well with diabetes.

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Brittani is a Red Rider in her local Tour de Cure!

Brittani is a Red Rider in her local Tour de Cure!

Name: Brittani Leopold
Age: 29 (diagnosed at age 25)
Location: Columbus, Ohio

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes the week of Thanksgiving 2009. Life was going great: I had gotten married four months prior, and my husband and I had just moved in to our new house.

I hadn’t been feeling well for a month or so, and I didn’t know what was wrong. I was falling asleep on my drive to work and at my desk! So I finally went to the doctor. She ran a bunch of blood tests and sent me home.

Later that night, at about 9 p.m., she called me and said I needed to go to the ER right away. My blood glucose was over 600 mg/dl! First, I cried. Then I pulled myself together, packed some things and went.

They started me on insulin and fluids right away, as I was dehydrated. They pricked my finger every hour. I couldn’t understand what was going on. I was overweight and ate poorly, but I didn’t have any known health problems.

When I saw the doctor the next morning, she explained to me that initial blood tests indicated I had type 1 diabetes. At the time, I didn’t even know I could be diagnosed with that as an adult. I thought this was my fault. But the doctor assured me it wasn’t.

I was admitted the Monday night before Thanksgiving and wasn’t released until Thursday morning. My husband and I drove home three hours for the holiday. Scott actually had to show me how to dose my insulin pens, because when the diabetes educator demonstrated it, I was in and out of sleep and couldn’t retain the information!

I’ve lost 90 pounds in the last four years. I’ve learned to count my carbs, I work out every day and I’m now on an insulin pump. I brought my A1C down from 11.3 percent to 5 percent and have kept it there for over a year.

I started getting involved in the American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure® because my husband and I love to cycle. It’s a daily struggle for people like me with diabetes. Every single day we have to know what we’re eating, pay attention to how we’re feeling and be able to adjust to it. It’s constant. And it’s so nice to have a day set aside to celebrate our hard work, and to do it by being active! That’s the best part about Tour de Cure. Plus, it’s family friendly—and who doesn’t like to ride bikes on a gorgeous day?!

I want to help bring awareness to the public about this disease. Almost everyone knows someone and or has a family member with diabetes, most often type 2. But when I was diagnosed, I was amazed at how little people knew about the disease (myself included). This is why I am so active in the cause.

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