Wednesday Warrior: Dani Stoner

I’m Pumped to Announce this Week’s Wednesday Warrior: Dani Stoner

Dani and I first met when we were moving our boyfriends into their new house in Savannah, GA. I was pumped because I saw her Omnipod pumper on her arm and we instantly bonded over the ‘Beetus ?

Dani is a happy, adventure seeking artist/engineer who doesn’t let diabetes stop her from living her life. She has traveled all around this beautiful world of ours and is currently planning a trekking trip to Manchu Picchu (so awesome!).

Our stories are very similar. We were both diagnosed at a young age where we don’t remember life without diabetes.

One quote from Dani that really stuck out to me occurred when she was first diagnosed and learning how to manage her diabetes in the hospital. After the nurses explained to her that her parents would have to help with her management, she made up her mind right then that she was going to manage her diabetes herself.

She mentioned she thought to herself, “My life is going to change, but I’m not going to let it change me”.

If you ever get the pleasure of meeting Dani (which I hope you do someday because she’s awesome!) this is the motto she lives her life by. She’s diabetic proud and lives an adventurous, young adult life with her pumper by her side. 

Here is her story: 

I was diagnosed on Feb 12, 2006.

I’ve been living with diabetes for 13 years.

I’m living in Savannah, GA.

My current occupation is an Engineer.

I’m a Type 1 Diabetic

How was your life before your diagnosis?

I don’t remember much from life before diabetes. At least, not much that is different from that of living with it. I remember going to school, playing soccer, getting into trouble with my cousins… all things I continued to do after I was diagnosed. The only thing I can remember that is different is how much candy I was able to sneakily eat on Halloween.

What were your first thoughts when you were diagnosed?

“My life is going to change.” I can remember that day exactly. I was twelve years old when I went to the doctor with my dad and they ran some tests that led them to admit me into the hospital. Before going to the hospital, we went home to grab some things and pick up my mom. Even then I knew it was a big deal because there were so many conversations behind closed doors; first at the doctor’s office, then at home.

My mom found me crying in my room. I was so upset that I’d have to miss school and would be away from home for days. I still didn’t even know what was wrong with me, just that I’d be going to the hospital for a long while. She kept reassuring me that it would only be for a few hours and then I’d be home safe in bed.

Later that night, after I had been moved from the emergency room to a more permanent room, I watched a video of an animated pancreas dancing and trying to explain what diabetes is. I never liked being talked to or treated like a kid, so when I watched that video and had the nurses explain to me that my parents would have to give me shots and help regulate my diet, I made up my mind. I never let my parents give me a shot. I learned all about carb counting and insulin sensitivity.

I thought “my life is going to change, but I’m not going to let it change me.”

What changes did you have to make after your diagnosis?

When I was first diagnosed I changed a LOT. Every meal was calculated and planned. I checked my blood sugar 8 times a day. I had to carry around a little green bag with soccer balls on it that held all my supplies. Many nights my parents would wake me up to test my numbers in the middle of the night. I had to be extra careful at soccer practice so that my blood sugar wouldn’t go low. If it did, I had to go to the nurse to get sugar. I also had to go there every day before lunch because I wasn’t allowed to carry my little green bag with soccer balls around school. There were smaller changes too (I started eating my meals out of measuring cups because I did the dishes and I thought it was a waste to get an extra bowl dirty when the measuring cup worked just fine), but mostly I just had to adapt.

Did you try to hide your diabetes?

Yes. About a year after becoming diabetic I decided that being diabetic was no longer fun. Up until this point I had been the perfect diabetic. Checking 6-8 times a day, keeping my A1C down, I always got praised by the doctors for being able to take care of everything myself. I guess it went to my head. I decided I didn’t need to check as often. I was self-sufficient. Needless to say, as a 13-year-old, this got me in quite a lot of trouble when it finally came out that I hadn’t been taking care of myself. There were lots of fights with my parents. They couldn’t understand me, I was a teenager with diabetes! What did they know?

In the end, I just came to realize that not taking care of my diabetes wouldn’t make it go away, and that life was much easier when I was healthy. Much to their relief.

Do you do anything else to manage your diabetes more effectively, such as exercise, diet, or other medications?

I do use diet and exercise as supplements to my insulin pump. Doing both helps me in the long run. It’s still trial and error though, I don’t do well in a routine, so I switch things up a lot, which can be hard on my blood sugar.

What are the hardest parts of being diabetic?

The hardest part is the unpredictability.

On a day to day, I have my numbers pretty much under control. Even if I have a high or a low, I know how to handle it and it doesn’t trip me up. However, there are always things that can go wrong. A few months ago, I had a faulty box of insulin pumps. The adhesive wasn’t as strong as it normally is and they kept falling off. This happened to coincide with the end of the year for my insurance.

So, I found myself suddenly out of insulin pumps and couldn’t order a new supply.

I was able to get some from the supplier themselves, but I had to wait 24 hours because (of course) this happened on a Sunday evening. All of this meant I had to somehow get a prescription for a long-acting insulin, which I hadn’t used in 12 years.

After a lot of teary phone calls, I had all the insulin I needed, but my body still wasn’t used to the new type. So even though I did everything I could, I still spent 2 days sick at home with very unpredictable blood sugar. Obviously, this is a unique case, but with diabetes, you never know what could go wrong.

Yes, it is the only time this specific scenario has happened to me, but I have been in a few situations with similar outcomes. It’s tough knowing that your day to day life relies so heavily on outside influences.

Where do you get your support from?

My family and friends are my biggest support. I still call my mom every time something goes wrong (I called her three times in the scenario above). I couldn’t get by without everything they do for me.

Are you diabetic proud? Why or why not?

I am diabetic proud.

I love when people ask about my insulin pump or want to tell me stories of the people they know that have diabetes. I have had many bad experiences because of diabetes, but they are far, far outnumbered by the good. I have met many people just through the fact that I wear my insulin pump on my arm.

And I don’t let the fact that I have diabetes stop me from doing anything I would do without it. I travel the world, I play kickball, I read, I eat cake, I hike mountains, I binge Netflix all day, I go on week-long bike trips, and I do it all with my diabetes.

What is a piece of advice for someone who was just diagnosed?

Reach out to others with diabetes. Those recently diagnosed and those that have had it for a long time. They will be able to relate. You can tell them your fears and they won’t judge you, because odds are they’ve felt the same. You can share embarrassing moments that come from being diabetic, odds are they’ve had some worse. You can ask them questions because they will probably have better advice than me.

What would you like someone who doesn’t have diabetes to know about your diabetes?

This is a hard one. Maybe it’s because I love talking to people about my diabetes, but the other answers just came too easily. This one I had to think a long time on.

I think I would want people to know that my diabetes is MY diabetes. It is the same disease, but I’ve had it for so long now that it’s MINE. The differences are subtle for someone that doesn’t experience them every day, but they are there. How I feel when my blood sugar is low may be different than someone else. The amount of insulin I give for the same meal will probably be different. I know how it changes my body better than anyone else.

I still need support, but I don’t need instruction. I need encouragement and love, not advice.

 

“Strong enough to outrun a stormtrooper”- Dani Stoner

 

If you would like to personally connect with Dani, please don’t hesitate to reach out! She would love to connect. 

You’re not in this war alone. We’re fighting this TOGETHER.