Diabetic & Me

Erica MacKay

Erica MacKay

Hello! Who are you? And tell us a little bit more about your diabetes.

Hey everyone! My name is Erica MacKay. I’m 32 years old and currently living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I have Type 1 diabetes for a total of 30 years.

I am a stay at home mom to two beautiful, happy boys and wifey to my best friend. I enjoy being outside everyday. I love my morning coffee and enjoy a good workout that can release a little stress. I have my black belt In Shotokan Karate and have competed for Canada at the Pan American games!

I grew up with diabetes and I never felt the need to hide it. Because I was always training and competing it was important that people around me knew I was diabetic and what to do if I needed help! My diabetes management has changed a lot over the last 30 years. Most recently from multiple daily injections to an insulin pump and CGM in 2015.

My diagnosis was emotionally hardest on my parents. No one in my family had diabetes before me so they had to learn it all from scratch! Nutrition, injections, blood glucose control and more. We spent 10 days at Toronto Sick Kids Hospital where they practiced giving needles on fruit before we were sent home! I am so grateful for the care they took in my diabetes management. Especially now that I fully understand the risks of poor control.

Erica MacKay

“My diagnosis was emotionally hardest on my parents.”

Your treatment

How do you treat your diabetes, did a lot change over the past years and are you able to manage it well?

I get support from my  endocrinologist at a Diabetes Management Centre.

To treat my diabetes I use a Medtronic insulin pump and CGM with Fiasp insulin. Before I used Humulin N and R, Lantus, Fiasp and Humalog insulin.

Over the last years the changes have been positive! I have better control, easier tracking and problem solving, data sharing with my nurses and endocrinologist.

I manage my diabetes very well!

Erica MacKay
Erica MacKay

Can you recognize the symptoms of a low/high blood sugar? Do you test often and can you tell a bit more about your experiences with low blood sugar?

Yes, I can recognize them. I get confused, hungry, have pale skin and cold nose when I’m low. I am tired, act slow and get thirsty when I’m high.

To test my glucose levels I watch my trend line ALL DAY and I calibrate my Dexcom CGM daily.

To treat my low blood sugar I start with a 20g carb juice box! If needed I move to the cookies if necessary!

I’ve never fainted due to a low blood sugar.

Food and diet

How does your diabetes affect your eating and do you find being on a diet restrictive?

For breakfast I eat oatmeal with chia seeds, cinnamon, almonds, berries and almond milk. For lunch I eat pasta with avocado and cheese and for dinner I eat bbq chicken, corn on the cob and baked potatoes. I sometimes skip meals.

For snacks I eat berries, cheese, fruit, crackers or cookies. My favorite food is a Margherita Pizza or Seafood fettuccini Alfredo and I love eat at Italian restaurants.

I generally eat very similarly every day just naturally. If someone walks in with a surprise treat I am all in! I just bolus as necessary to the carbs I eat.

I drink water all day. Coffee, water and herbal tea. I always have a drink with me but I aim to measure 2 liters of water a day and then I know I drink beyond that with other drinks.

I find being on a diet restrictive but I just try to stay balanced. With children around me I try not to make a big deal about “good or bad” foods and focus more on balance. Fruits, veggies, cereal and meat. We really do eat it all here but I try to provide them and myself with “healthier” yummy options.

I get annoyed when people ask me about certain food I can or can’t eat! Many people don’t understand type 1 diabetes so I do find it frustrating when someone is telling ME about the disease I have lived with for 30 years!

Erica MacKay

Do you believe that a plant based diet can improve diabetes? Did you ever experiment with this?

Yes! I believe a plant based diet has huge health benefits for treatment and prevention of SO MANY of our health issues. I am working my family and I toward a plant based diet slowly. Small changes trying to keep us all healthy.

Do you have a hard time eating out in a restaurant? And what are you thoughts on making this easier?

I do not! I count my carbs and bolus accordingly. It’s usually fine.

“Everything is going to be okay. You are not alone!”

Erica MacKay

Exercise and work

Does your diabetes restrict you from exercise or your daily job?

Everyday I go for a walk, do weights, do body weight exercises and chasing 2 boys around the house and backyard!

I am a stay at home mom. I have two boys of 4 and 2 years old so we are busy and active everyday! I make sure I have juice boxes with me wherever we are so I can treat a low blood sugar quickly.

Erica MacKay

Final

Do you have any positive or negative effects because of your diabetes?

The hardest part is that it can be mentally draining. It is a 24/7 job with measuring, counting, calculating, watching, adjusting and treating. Mentally it is a lot and even having had it for 30 years I still experience diabetic burnout for a day every once in a while where I just feel like I need a break.

The best part is that I know my body SO WELL. I love that I know what is what, how it works, how nutrition and lifestyle affect it and I know when something isn’t right.

What is the best advice that you can give to non-diabetics, new diagnosed diabetics and diabetics?

Insulin is not a cure!

Everything is going to be okay. You are not alone!

Give yourself grace. Everyday is not going to be perfect and that’s ok.

What would you ask the other diabetics?

What’s your favorite injection site / pump site / CGM site, and why

Feel free to answer in the comments below.

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Hey! I'm Ely Fornoville, the founder of Diabetic & Me.

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