Those with type 1 diabetes in U.S. now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has finally recognized the elevated risk of COVID-19 to people with type 1 diabetes (T1D).

This recognition now officially moves people with T1D into the 1c priority group, nationally.

The JDRF deserves credit in being part of this victory. Organizational leaders, representing JDRF research and advocacy, engaged extensively with the CDC, sharing the growing body of scientific evidence that adults with T1D are at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19, similar to adults with type 2 diabetes (T2D).

I contributed an article myself on this on a study held in the U.K. that found people with T1D, if hospitalized, were even more at risk of death than people with T2D.

This new prioritized access to vaccines will save lives and reduce the risks of additional COVID-19 complications for those of us with T1D. No matter what state you live in, it’s my understanding that you are now eligible for a vaccine regardless of your age. Hallelujah, and thanks to everyone who fought to make this happen!

Almost 50 years with type 1 diabetes. What’s next?

Next February will be my 50 year anniversary with T1D. Certainly I am proud of having made it this far. Proud of all the hard work I’ve done. But this is not a rah-rah, ain’t it great post. Because I am a bit fearful when I think of what may befall me as I live more and more years with this condition.

Right now I’ve got a sprained thumb. A connective tissue issue. Makes typing an odious task I can tell you. Since my diagnosis I am prone to getting cramps in my calves, especially at night, I have had numerous sprained ankles and I have already had two frozen shoulders. One was worked out over three months by a chiropractor using heat and manipulation. The other required surgery. And my surgeon, who perfected the technique, told me I may get more on a timeline of 15 years apart. Thankfully, more than 15 years have passed since my last episode, but never say never.

But the truth is a truth we rarely speak about, hear or read about. Living with type 1 diabetes a long time, even with well-managed blood sugar, makes you prone to various conditions involving your body’s tissues, nerves, bones etc. Many people will have eye issues like retinopathy, others neuropathy, others trigger fingers.

This paper, The Musculoskeletal Effects of Diabetes Mellitus is 15 years old, but I just read it today. I can’t say whether any of the information in here no longer applies, or if we have better treatments than we did 15 years ago. But I can say, I think it’s worth a read. Even though I’m feeling a little sorry for myself at the moment, it helps just a bit to know if you run into an issue, you know it’s not your fault, it’s not necessarily that you didn’t work hard enough at this, and you know you’re not alone.

WHO’s new Global Diabetes Compact includes people with diabetes

Last week I was honored to be part of a 3 day conference run by the World Health Organization. The aim of the three days was to glean from almost 100 people living with diabetes-participants how to, through our expertise and partnership, form, structure, govern and implement this new Compact. The mission of the Compact is to bring diabetes treatment to all who need it around the world. That includes: Prevention (focusing on the reduction of obesity in young people); Improved access to medicine and technology; Set global targets for diabetes to improve monitoring/accountability of progress.

If it seemed a bit obscure above, people living with diabetes will be actively involved in the development and implementation of the Compact. Our conference was abuzz with its participants’ expertise and it was especially lovely to be locked up in a room (okay zoom room) with some of the best and brightest diabetes activists and advocates whom I sorely miss.

The Global Diabetes Compact will be launched on April 14th in honor of this 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin. That miracle, by the way, was performed by medical scientist Frederick Banting. So that no one would have to go without insulin, Banting then sold insulin’s patient to the University of Toronto for a mere $1.00. Well, we know how that worked out.

At its launch next month, WHO will bring together leaders in government, business and society to make commitments to people living with diabetes having access to affordable health services, medicine, treatment and also to deliver on the political commitments they made at the 2018 and 2019 United Nations General Assembly on Non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

After its launch the Compact will be focused on accomplishments it hopes to share at the second high-level meeting at the United Nations on Universal Health Coverage in 2023, and the fourth high-level meeting on NCDs in 2025. The number of people around the world who are expected to have diabetes in 2030, only nine years from now, is 366 million. That’s more than twice as many as today, 171 million.

A teen’s desire to “fit in” turned into a company mission

Above one of the many carry bags from Sugar Medical Diabetes Accessories. This post was written by Carolyn Jäger, President of the company, whose fun, fashionable bags and accessories make living with diabetes a little easier – and a lot more organized.

Carolyn: “While I got type 1 diabetes at 13, it was when a friend was having a pancreas transplant, that I turned my once childhood insecurities into a company. 

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 my sister was diagnosed. My family was familiar with all the needles (and tears) and glucose monitors, 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. 

Particularly, I hated carrying all my diabetes supplies in “that black medical bag” that comes with every glucometer. It made me stand out but NOT in the way a 13-year-old wants. I carried that bag with me every day, and everywhere – going to the nurse’s office to check my blood sugar, to sports practice, to a friends’ house – and I kept it hidden. It seriously clashed with my 13-year-old fashionista style! (Well, at least I thought I had style back then.) More than anything, I wanted to fit in. Forget it! I began to resent having type 1 diabetes.  

Sensing my insecurity, my mother handmade a special bag for my supplies. It was stylish; it had pink fabric and green turtle patches sewn on it. The bag not only suited my presumed sassy style, but it made my life easier. The bag grew my confidence, I even grew comfortable enough to check my blood sugar in front of other people. My mother’s gift also started something I would continue: through the years I sewed my own fun diabetes supply bags for myself.

Then, after I had my first son, a close family friend who had serious complications from diabetes had a pancreas transplant. It rattled and changed 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 knew how important good glucose was in controlling diabetes and in preventing complications, and I fiercely wanted to encourage others to check their blood sugar more often. I never wanted to see anyone else suffer as my friend had. 

When I shared my desire 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 realized 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 offered free with every glucose meter. 

That’s when it dawned on me that I could help others take better care of themselves. I could encourage them to have their supplies close at hand by doing what I did growing up: create a line of bags that look the opposite of “medical” bags, that are fun, stylish and functional. And that’s how Sugar Medical began. Having had a career in retail, and as a buyer for a department store, it turned out I had good training to launch this company, in addition to my childhood bag making career.

Today, 32 years after my diagnosis, 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 wear my pump proudly on my hip and I have no problem checking my blood sugar in front of people. 

I wish I had been this confident as a teenager, but if I had, Sugar Medical probably never would have happened, and I’m glad it did. I, and all who work with me, want to make life a little easier for those of us who live with type 1 diabetes. I won’t be embarrassed to say, take a look at our bags and see if one doesn’t seem perfect for you. It just may be your inspiration to take your management to the next level.”

Carolyn Jäger, President

Our Mission

Sugar Medical encourages more frequent blood glucose checking with diabetes supply bags you will not feel embarrassed to carry – or show off! Sugar Medical gives back to the diabetes community donating yearly to the JDRF, Beyond Type 1 and the College Diabetes Network. We also participate in the walks and events hosted by the JDRF and ADA and support our own community in Midlothian, VA: last year we donated $1.5K to Chesterfield County Food Bank and plan to continue to support this charity.