I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at age 13, but I had been living in a household with T1D since I was eight, when a family member was diagnosed. I was familiar with the glucose monitors, needles, and tears, which only made the news of my diagnosis more devastating. I knew enough to be scared and upset that I too would now have to give myself shots for the rest of my life. Read more
I carried my supplies with me every day and everywhere – school, sports practice, and friends’ houses – and I kept it hidden. I hated carrying “that black medical bag". It made me stand out and I wanted to fit in! I began to resent having type 1 diabetes.
Sensing my insecurity, my mother handmade a special bag for my supplies; it had pink fabric and green turtle patches sewn on it. The bag didn't look "medical" and I felt more comfortable carrying it's contents. From there I grew confident enough to check my blood sugar in front of other people. My mother’s gift also inspired my interest in designing and sewing my own fun diabetes supply bags for myself.
After I had my first son, a close family friend with serious complications from diabetes had a pancreas transplant. Witnessing that rattled me. I became over diligent about testing and tried to prevent myself from ever having a high blood sugar. I constantly corrected my insulin pump in fear of what complications could someday come my way. I then realized just how important controlling my diabetes was to prevent similar complications and I fiercely wanted to encourage others to embrace my perspective. I never wanted to see anyone else suffer as my friend had.
When I shared my concerns with my doctor, he explained that many people put themselves at risk because they don’t carry their supplies with them. They feel it’s “too hard to carry everything” or they’re embarrassed by the “medical” looking bag. I learned I wasn’t the only person with diabetes who felt self-conscious about carrying “that black nylon bag!” So I couldn’t be the only person who wanted something better than what was sold with every glucose meter. ...In 2009, while building a successful career in retail purchasing, I launched Sugar Medical to create fashionable, functional bags for people with diabetes!
Today, 34 years later, I am much more confident about living with type 1 diabetes. I grew to understand that I do not need to hide my illness from others: it is a part of me. I still carry my supplies with me everywhere - work, my kids' sports practices and friends' houses - and I have no problem showing my Sugar Medical bag!