Diabetic & Me

Victoria Burns

Victoria Burns

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

Hey everyone! My name is Victoria Burns. Iā€™m 38 years old and currently living in Calgary, Alberta Canada. I have Type 1 diabetes for a total of 9 years.

I’m a wife, puppy mom, and Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Calgary. I do arts-based research using documentary film. I didn’t grow up with diabetes.

I got married the same year I was diagnosed with type one diabetes. It was a shock for my entire family.

“Strive for progress, not perfection!ā€

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 husband. He is my rock. I also have am amazing endocrinologist, family doctor, spiritual director, 12-step community and psychologist.

I use a Dexcom CGM and multiple daily injections with Lantus and Novorapid insulin. I never used any other insulins.

Everything changed. I am grateful for my diagnosis. Having struggled for years with alcoholism pre-diagnosis, type one diabetes brought me to my bottom sooner. Paradoxically gave me a second chance at life. I’m celebrating 7 years sober this year!!! šŸ¤—

Since being diagnosed, it hasn’t been easy. My diagnosis triggered a relapse into eating disorder behavior, and I developed diabulimia. Through support and lots of outside help, I am gratefully recovering one day at a time. Since my type one diagnosis I have not slowed down!

I have traveled to different continents, finished my PhD and a post-doctorate and started a tenure-track professor position. I have also been happily partnered with my best friend and husband for 14 years and counting. Our dog Pinot was only 6 months old when I was diagnosed, he is turning 9 next month!!! šŸ¶

Managing my diabetes is a work in progress. I’m recovering from diabulimia. I went from 10.8 A1c to 8.3 in 3 months. Progress not perfection!!! I am very proud of that result.

For me recovery means respecting my body. I no longer harm myself by omitting insulin no matter what!

Victoria Burns
Victoria Burns

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 am “brittle” so up and down. When I’m high I get headaches, frequent urination, thirst, numbness and tingling in hands.

I calibrate my CGM 2 times per per day. To treat my low blood sugars I use juice or Swedish berries!! šŸ¬šŸ­šŸ¬

Food and diet

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

For breakfast I eat low carb almond meal bread with almond butter, a hard boiled egg and Americano coffee. For lunch I always eat a combo of protein, carb, fat and veggies. My new favorite salad is mixed greens, prosciutto, sliced apples, Boursin cheese, walnuts, a hard boiled egg and avocado. For dinner I always eat a combo of protein, carb, fat and veggies. My favorite these days is roasted chicken, turnip / carrot fries and green salad.

I never skip any meals, my favourite food is fried chicken and corn bread and I’m a sucker for southern cuisine and BBQ.

I eat snacks like popcorn, piece of bread with almond butter or Greek yogurt.

I try to carb count as best I can and dose my insulin according to that.

My water intake is probably 3 liters per day.

As a person recovering from an eating disorders I don’t diet. Diets lead to weight cycling which is extremely damaging to mental and physical health.

When people ask me about certain foods I can or can’t eat I get a bit annoyed. But I turn it into an opportunity to educate. Before I was diagnosed I didn’t know much about diabetes and the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. So can’t expect people to know.

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

Yes. I eat plant based but not vegan. I did vegan for 9 months but it didn’t agree with my intestines!

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

Not really. I also have celiac disease which makes it harder. I just do a bit of research beforehand to make sure there are safe options for me.

“I get support from my husband. He is my rock.ā€

Victoria Burns

Exercise and work

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

For exercise I walk at least an hour per day, do yoga / stretching and cycling and I love spin class! Really missing spinning since Corona.

As a university professor my work load is 40% teaching, 40% research and 20% service. We are also expected to supervise students and continually publish. It’s a heavy workload so self care and stress reduction is key. I also run my sugars a bit high before teaching a 3 hour class to make sure I don’t go low during class.

Victoria Burns

Final

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

To manage my diabetes better I pray and meditate daily to reduce stress.

Oh boy! The hardest part of having diabetes is the fear of going low at night, not able to be spontaneous and having roller coaster blood sugars that affect mood.

But the best part is that it made me more self-aware, health conscious and grateful for what I have. I am also grateful for the diabetes community and friends.

Some of the problems that diabetes cause me are that I am more prone to infections and illnesses. It takes longer to recover.

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

Type one diabetes is an invisible, chronic autoimmune disease that requires 24/7 attention with zero days off. It is also an expensive disability to manage. People don’t cause their diabetes. I’m also talking about type two. There are genetic and environmental factors. Please stop with the contempt prior to investigation, judgment perpetuates stigma, and stigma kills!

Diabetes is not your fault. It’s not a death sentence. Yes you can still eat bread and travel. Refrain from Googling “diabetes complications”. There is no such thing as perfection.

Strive for progress, not perfection. Take it a day at a time. Connect with other folks with diabetes. Don’t forget; you are not alone.

What would you ask the other diabetics?

Have you experienced diabetes burnout? How did you manage?

Feel free to answer in the comments below.

Want to publish your own story?

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

We interview people with diabetes share the stories behind their lives.

By sharing these stories, we want to help others to understand life with diabetes.

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