Patient Panelist Spotlight: Sandy Brooks

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Here at T1D Exchange, we are gearing up for our 5th Annual Meeting, which will take place on Tuesday, October 3rd in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The theme for this year is Aging with Type 1 Diabetes. We have a full program planned with an esteemed list of speakers ready to share their insights on research, clinical care, blood sugar management, and how patients are living better, longer lives with this chronic condition.

Each year, we kick things off with a patient panel. This introduction to the annual meeting sets the tone for the rest of the day, as we hear directly from a panel of individuals living with T1D, the very people we all serve in various ways throughout the industry. Because we know most of you will not be attending in person, we wanted to introduce you to these folks and share their story here on Glu.

Our first patient was recently featured on Glu in an in-depth article, and many of you may have seen her comments on Glu’s Questions of the Day as well as our articles. Sandy Brooks has a unique story, in that she is a surgical type 1 diabetes, which means she developed it as the result of an unsuccessful pancreas transplant. Sandy lived with chronic pancreatitis for 27 years before undergoing a total pancreatectomy with autologous islet cell transplant on February 8, 2013, her 53rd birthday. Unfortunately, the transplant failed and she was diagnosed with type 1 three days later.

Sandy uses a Tandem T-Slim X2 insulin pump and a Dexcom G5 CGM. In addition to being a very active member of Glu, Sandy also blogs at Muddybrooks.wordpress.com chronicling her life with pancreatitis and type 1 diabetes.

“I’m not a pure PWD (person with diabetes), or so I’ve been told,” said Sandy. “So I feel I have a little bit different story to tell.”

Sandy is also a licensed RN in the state of Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband of 33 years and her mini-poodle, Indy, whom she is training as a diabetes alert dog.

“I am very passionate about diabetes advocacy and I feel as both a T1D and a nurse I am in a position to help other people with any kind of diabetes to achieve better daily management.”

Sandy says the most challenging thing about living with T1D is her postprandial BGs, or blood sugar management after eating. She’s tried to alter her diet by not eating as many carbs as she had prior to diagnosis, and she also uses pre-bolusing as a technique to try to keep her numbers more level. Sandy tries not to let her blood sugars dictate her emotions, and says this is what she is most proud of in her adaption to this disease.

“I’m by no means perfect, but I’m learning to just see my BGs as information I need to make a decision,” she said.

Sandy says taking the emotions out of the numbers is her number one piece of advice to newly diagnosed people with diabetes.

“I try to think of all my numbers as a science experiment. Nothing is good or bad, just in range or out of range.” Sandy added, “We are not defined by our A1c or our BG number at any given point. They are just numbers on which to make decisions.”

—Amy Bevan/GluMom

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