Jewels Doskicz caught my eye on Twitter one day. I was intrigued with the great information that she was posting on type 1 diabetes and celiac disease at SheSugar.com. When I found out she was a nurse with type 1 diabetes, I knew I wanted to meet her. I was interested in learning her take on the diabetes online community from two different perspectives, as a health care provider and as someone with diabetes. I reached out to her and she agreed to be interviewed for Caught Blue Handed! Caught Blue Handed! is a way for me to highlight individuals, organizations, and advocacy campaigns that promote diabetes awareness.
1. Tell me a little about yourself.
I’ve been a Registered Nurse since 1995, and also have a BA in psychology. I have been living personally with type 1 diabetes since 1984, diagnosed at age 13. My youngest daughter was diagnosed at age 5 with type 1 diabetes & celiac disease in 2007. One thing that I haven’t written heavily about yet is exercise. I am an avid exerciser- I have run marathons, I road bike distances (hoping to a century ride for JDRF in Tucson this November), yoga, skiing, hiking. I try my best to do something active every day that I enjoy. Some days this puts me at the health club unfortunately, but I get it in. I am a true believer that diabetes cannot be controlled nearly as well without it.
2. Why are you so passionate about diabetes? And helping others with diabetes?
My passion about diabetes has always been present. Diagnosed at age 13 had its difficulties but I remember wrapping them up quite succinctly. At that young age I realized that I could live a healthful live with diabetes. I knew it wasn’t going to go away anytime soon, so why not embrace it?
Back then (1984) there weren’t glucometers, insulin pumps or fast acting insulins. I would check my blood sugar by applying blood to a strip, wiping it with a cotton ball and comparing it to a range of colors on the bottle. I would also test my urine for sugar and ketones daily. My insulin was Regular and NPH, given via syringe twice a day. The first glucometer I had was gigantic compared to what we have today. Believe it or not, my control was really great. My parents ate very well and taught me how to care for myself and my diabetes the right way. Even with limited tools, it was possible. Twenty eight years later, I have no complications from type 1 diabetes and I start every day with a smile on my face. Life has been very good to me and diabetes has made me into a very health oriented person. Diabetes has its gifts too.
3. Tell me about your blog, shesugar.com. What do you hope to accomplish?
When my daughter Emma was diagnosed it really lit a fire inside me to make a difference in the diabetes world. I have often been told by others what a wonderful resource I am for people with diabetes and their families. People frequently tell me I need to write a book (perhaps my writing with She Sugar will take me there…). My knowledge base quickly expanded with Emma’s diagnosis, as well as phone calls from others for advice. I quickly realized the needs of the general public in regards to managing their children’s diabetes and celiac disease as well.
I see She Sugar as a great outlet for me to express myself and share my growing knowledge with others. Knowing about diabetes and living with diabetes are two totally different things. People look to others who have it or parent to it for compassion and understanding. Parents want to know if they are doing things right or how they can make things better. A doctor’s office is a wonderful place to start this process, but it never ends there. Practical knowledge isn’t found in an office, it is found through others living lives parallel to yours.
When I meet another family there is an instant bonding that happens. We can look each other in the eye and know in that moment we understand what is happening in each other’s lives. It can be very personal and raw for people; they may be feeling alone and failing in their struggle with diabetes. It is difficult for me to express the constant vigilance that goes into managing diabetes in a young child. It doesn’t stop for a day, it is always there. We worry, we check, we get up at night, we call, our children call, you can’t turn it off.
Diabetes is a special disease because it requires maintenance minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day. No two days are the same, no person is the same. Everyone’s experience is unique, there is a general mold to follow for management but it is merely a guide. I often say type 1 diabetes is a giant science experiment, sometimes you just don’t know what you are going to get. The stakes are high and management is so important.
Children in general are much more difficult to manage in my personal experience. Adults know how they feel, plan their food, exercise, and other variables. Kids start to eat and then only take two bites making insulin management crazy! They have bursts of activity, growth hormone, more colds than adults and are learning their bodies and its cues. They are just a bundle of surprises as are all children.
It was challenging for me when my daughter was diagnosed as I already had diabetes for 23 years. I knew all about diabetes, which made it easier, but also more difficult in the same breath. I never thought in a million years my children would too, I just didn’t.
4. How do you use your background as a RN to inform your blog and tweets?
I realized the small list of resources for women with type 1 when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. I couldn’t find much online and started to work on my own website. Twelve years ago I called it Shesugar.com, but I never completed my project. The idea of She Sugar of course continued to pulse through my brain over a number of busy years. Last year my husband and I were talking about getting a website rolling again. I searched and realized Shesugar.com was still available and bought the domain name on the spot. That was the beginnings of Shesugar.com, which went live at the end of Dec. 2011.
I have a large base of knowledge from my education and my years of experience as a nurse, a mom and a person with diabetes. When it comes to medicine, I really understand the way the body works which is an important piece in writing about diabetes or any health condition. Being a nurse gives me a leg up on understanding medical jargon, articles and politics in the medical community. I try my best to write in an easily understandable and digestible fashion. Diabetes and celiac disease are both my specialties and my passion. I’m an educator, advocate, and volunteer. I do this all while managing my own diabetes and parenting to my daughter’s diabetes.
5. As a health care provider, and someone with diabetes, how do you feel about the diabetes online community?
The online community is truly a wonderful way for people to connect from all over the globe. I have met some fantastic people through social media that I never would have otherwise. I am very careful not to give medical advice to people online. Those waters need to be treaded very carefully. I had already been primed about this, as I volunteer for the JDRF Online Diabetes Support Team (ODST) answering questions from people about type 1 diabetes.
Through my voice on Shesugar, I hope to inspire health, happiness and well being with type 1 diabetes. Information and education are very powerful tools. If individuals and families have knowledge, they will feel better equipped to face the daily challenges of life with type 1 diabetes.
I think there is definitely room for growth and expansion of services online. I appreciate my online interactions with others and make my career even more fulfilling through volunteerism. I volunteer in many capacities with JDRF, our community, summer camps, and through my website.
6. Finally, what are your social media links so people can follow you?
Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/company/she-sugar
Thank you Jewels and She Sugar, you have officially been
Caught Blue Handed!