Type 1 Diabetes: Emily Ireland's Story

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 12 years old, Emily Ireland is now a healthy and active freshman nursing student at West Chester University. When she graduates, she wants to care for infants in a neonatal intensive care unit.

Emily has never let her type 1 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," Emily says. "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!” 

Enjoying life while keeping diabetes under control

emily rowing boat Emily [middle] during one of her races. 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. Whatever they can do to help Emily manage her diabetes, they are ready and willing — and for that, Emily is grateful!

Tara Dea, MSN, CRNP, 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 continues through college. She’ll have to adjust to life in a dorm, college food and the crazy schedule that most college student experience.

We wish her all the best and know she will succeed because of her determination and support from family and friends.

Originally posted: September 2013