Why I Advocate: Lucy Trankina

As a person with type 1 diabetes for almost 11 years, I have been advocating for myself for some time now. It is so reassuring to know DPAC is there for me too. I love the work DPAC does and want to help others like myself. Diabetes is hard enough without constantly having to fight for your rights. If I can help make this path any smoother for others and myself, I am there. Because, as I learned recently on my honeymoon, you can’t take a vacation from diabetes.

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when I was 15 years old. It’s a pretty scary diagnosis for any age, but thankfully my doctor put me on an insulin pump one month after I left the hospital. It made the transition a lot easier and has allowed me to live a relatively normal life. I have traveled abroad, went to college, and led a very fulfilling career in nonprofit.

In June of 2018, I got married to my college boyfriend, Tyler, and we went on our honeymoon to Jamaica. Plans for our trip had been in the works for months. After making a million little decisions about the wedding, we were looking forward to spending quality time together and not having to think.

We stepped off the plane on a Sunday night and explored the resort. We couldn’t wait for all the fun things we were going to do that week, like Dunns River Falls waterfall hike, a rum distillery tour, and Luminous Lagoon bio luminous swim experience. We had a really relaxing beach day on Monday, jumping through the ocean waves without a care in the world. My sore feet were really happy to get a break from standing. It was a really great day and we turned in early to rest up for the remainder of our big week.

I had no idea how much I was going to need the rest. Tuesday morning, we stayed dry, people watching and listening to the ocean before heading to Dunn’s River Falls. I don’t know what possessed me to do this but I brought with me my CGM and pump PDM remotes. The waterfall was in full force and we were fully submerged. I didn’t realize the full extent of how wet we were going to get but we got soaked! Which meant all of my equipment got soaked. It turns out the PDM remote does not enjoy taking baths. It shut down, ensuring a panic attack by me. A lovely Jamaican woman had to hold me and calm me down. I felt out of control and like I was going to die.

Shots and I have never got along. My doctor put me on a pump so fast I really never had an opportunity to feel comfortable with them. Shots and using an insulin pump require completely different mindsets. Dealing with this whole different mindset of how to keep me healthy and alive is stressful enough in the most comfortable circumstances. On vacation, in a foreign country, adds a whole other level of stress. I am not a trained physician or nurse and do not trust myself enough to know what I am doing. But my only choice was to suck up my fear and do what I needed to do in order to survive the week. I was very cautious about what I ate and swimming. I was so worried it was really hard to enjoy all the activities we had planned.

I clearly chose the right person though, because Tyler was so helpful. He gave me shots, helped monitor my blood sugar, and most importantly kept my spirits up. He kept me going when I wanted to quit. He reminded me how special I was when all I could see was how happy the non-diabetic people on the beach were. He got me through this ordeal and I am very thankful he will be there to support me through all the ups and downs of diabetes to come.

There are a lot of highs and lows that come along with diabetes – and I am not just referring to blood sugars on the meter. There is a large emotional toll it can take on a person. Most days, I am grateful for the lessons I have learned through this adversary. It has taught me to recognize the important things in life and how to let go of the little things. I advocate because I want people to know what diabetics experience on a day to day basis. Every single day we prepare, count carbs, calculate and inject.

You can’t take a vacation from diabetes. It comes with you across the world. To beaches, ski slopes, cruises, and remote jungle villages. You can be as prepared as possible but there is always a chance something can go wrong. Ultimately, I hope one day this won’t be a reality for me or anyone else. No one else will have to miss out on their honeymoon or any other joyous life experiences. Until then, I will continue to do the work!