Diabetes Center for Children

Diabetes Patient Story – Emily Ireland

Emily rowingEmily [middle] during one of her races.In fall 2013, Emily, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 12 years old, will be a freshman at West Chester University studying nursing. She wants to care for infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Emily has never let her diabetes keep her from doing the things she enjoys. The first question she asked the nurse after being diagnosed was whether she could still surf, row crew and do all of the other things she enjoys. She came to realize that “the only time my diabetes wouldn’t allow me to do something would be if I let it.” This is the most important lesson she wants other kids diagnosed with type 1 to learn. “Don’t ever be ashamed of your diabetes; it is a part of you. Tell your friends, coaches, teachers, etc., so that they understand and know what to do in case you need help. These people can be some of your biggest supporters!” says Emily.

Enjoying life while keeping diabetes under control

Emily lives 10 minutes from the Jersey shore, where she has always surfed. She notes that she has never had a “close call — having to use glucagon or go to the emergency room.” But that takes self-discipline and having “to stop now and get something to eat, or go back in and reconnect to get some insulin,” says Emily. “Being cognizant of time and stopping to do what needs to be done is one of the most challenging aspects of diabetes care. It is easy to lose track of time when you’re surfing or having fun with your friends,” she adds.

Emily has very good diabetes control. Her parents have always been her biggest supporters. Since her diagnosis six years ago, they have attended every one of her diabetes appointments at CHOP. Her dad wakes up in the middle of the night to call her if she is at a friend’s house to remind her to test. Her mother still writes the carb counts on her lunch that she takes to school. Whatever they can do to help Emily manage her diabetes, they are ready and willing — and for that, Emily is grateful!

Emily loves the outdoors and is also an avid reader and writer. She lives with her parents, her 14-year-old bother and 6-year-old sister. Tara Dea, her nurse practitioner from the Diabetes Center at CHOP, “is practically a member of our family as well,” says Emily. As for Tara, she smiles warmly when talking about Emily and her family’s support with her diabetes care.

There will be new challenges as Emily moves to college this fall. She’ll have to adjust to life in a dorm, college food and the crazy schedule that most freshmen experience. We wish her all the best and know she will succeed because of her determination and support from family and friends.

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