Defeating Diabetes


Wow, wow, wow! Where do I even start? I love you all so much. The past 72 hours have been insane, overwhelming and SO WONDERFUL!

I have so many things going on that I want to share with you, and I have all year to blog for you guys, so I will get to everything. It’s such a hard decision to even know where to start though! Since diabetes is what has really brought in the most social media attention, I decided I am going to tell you a little bit about my story and my message to you all!

In February 2012, my world was flipped upside down by my diabetes diagnosis. For a while, I pretended that I didn’t have diabetes, hoping it would go away. That led to crazy blood sugars, of course, and a very sick, grumpy, and discouraged Sierra.

In the summer, my friend asked me to compete at Miss Magic Valley (our local pageant in Twin Falls, Idaho—the winner goes to Miss Idaho the following summer). To compete, I needed a platform and I chose diabetes. I was a very different, less confident girl then. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my platform, or how to make it happen. Needless to say, I did not win Miss Magic Valley 2012, and that was totally okay! Life went on, and I met new friends and learned a lot! In addition, I decided that if nothing else, I was going to take the best care of my diabetes as possible to show others that it was possible. 

A couple months later, I competed in another pageant, and WON! However, I competed at Miss Idaho last summer and didn’t make top 11 (out of 18 girls). I came home, competed for Miss Magic Valley 2013, won, and have spent the last year promoting my platform, fundraising for Children’s Miracle Network, and trying to grow as an individual.

My platform is now Possibilities for Disabilities. My sister and I put on sports camps for people with developmental disabilities. I found that the reason my diabetes platform was so powerful was not because of the disease itself, but because of my message: we all have obstacles, but we need to know that we can overcome them, as well as use them to empower ourselves and make an impact on those around us. The kids I work with at my camps are champs, and this message relates to them, as well as diabetics and every other person on the planet! I will talk more about my official platform in a future blog post!

At Miss Idaho 2014, as most of you know, I made the decision to wear my pump on stage while competing. That decision took me two long years to make. When I first started competing, I was using injections rather than a pump. I didn’t want people to see a weird-tubey-machine-thing attached to me all the time, and could not wrap my head around having a medical device on my body for the rest of my life.

Then, I heard about Nicole Johnson: Miss America 1999. She wore her pump while competing at Miss America. My whole perspective changed.

The media often tells us this lie: if your appearance deviates in any way from cover girls, movie stars, super models, etc., it is a flaw and something is wrong with you. Well, guess what? Miss America 1999 has an insulin pump, and it doesn’t make her any less beautiful. In fact, in my mind, it enhances her beauty! So, a year after I was diagnosed, I got a pump. It helped me get even better control of my diabetes, and made my life SO much easier. Working up the confidence to compete with it was an entirely different journey, but this summer at Miss Idaho 2014, I finally did it.



As I nervously walked out of the dressing room the first night of competition, the first person I saw said, “What’s that? Is that an insulin pump?”.  My stomach flipped upside down. “I shouldn’t have worn this,” I thought, “everyone is going to be confused and wonder what I am wearing”.  But, the inquisitor happened to be McCall Salinas, the current Miss Idaho’s Outstanding Preteen. She shared with me that she had diabetes as well, but didn’t want a pump because of similar reasons I had had. Through out the night, she stood backstage cheering me on. We bonded over diabetes and pageants, and by the end of the night, she told her mom she was ready to get a pump. It brought me to tears. The thought that I could be one person’s “Nicole Johnson” meant more to me than I can ever put into words. Now, with the title of Miss Idaho, I have had a million new opportunities to spread the word about diabetes and overcoming obstacles! I am overwhelmed with hearing how many lives have been touched by me simply wearing my pump on stage. It means so much to me, and I hope I can touch many more during my year as Miss Idaho.

All my love,

Sierra Sandison
Miss Idaho 2014
Facebook: Miss Idaho Organization
Instagram: @missidorg @sierra_anne_nicole
Twitter: @sierra_anne93 @missidahoorg

Hashtags: #missidaho2014 #showmeyourpump




34 comments:

  1. My eyes are leaking. Thanks for your courage.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am SO thrilled to have found another courageous spirit in the diabetes community. Thank you for being bold! My 9 year old daughter was diagnosed with T1D in January. We will be reading and following you this year....very inspirational for us both.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sierra,

    This is Clint please have your Miss Idaho

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have no problem with a person who needs this in their lives. The only problem would be when I ask and I get a snobbish remark back about why its there...I know you and others hear people asking this all the time. Myself I would say OK and move on with what is going on.. Or try to say something to make you smile to show that I do understand and care enough to tease or joke with you for a moment in life.. :) :) There is beauty in life. There is beauty in life. Even though I do not see it or cringe when is see it at times. There is beauty in life.. So let me find a smile in my heart and soul.. The let the laughter of life so in the smile of others as I throw a pun, jest or joke out there to cover my smiling heart. For I am a poetic soul of a man who tries to fool everyone with how little I care about seeing the Beauty in life of all things great and small.. So show a tear to me and I will trick and tease you with my style of life Why because I love Craziness more than I love life.There is beauty in life but watch out for the craziness in life also.. BOOO Now jump and smile or laugh and sing just remember there is beauty in life..

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you for your inspiration for me and my 9-year-old daughter who has had T1D for almost 4 years. We are in the process of transitioning to a pump, and your story will continue to remind us of what courage and strength look like. Keep up the great work!

    ReplyDelete
  6. My Husband was diagnosed as Type 2 a week after our wedding (not the same, i know) but being a new diagnosis of a cronic condition, he has taken it pretty hard. There has been times that I have had to take a step back and remind him that life continues that the changes we are making are going to be for the better and that we are going to lead normal lives. your story is an inspiration. i forwarded it to him because i want him to know that he too can lead an awesome life and not let this become "the thing" Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you so much for being brave enough to do this. .... my daughter was diagnosed when she was 4 years old as a type 1 diabetic. When she turnt 5 we put her on a pump. She has always displayed it. She is now 11 and there is no sense hiding it..... more people seem more likely to accept what they know, rather than what they do not. This disease is not going anywhere tomorrow so why let it hold you back today !!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you for sharing your story! I have been wearing an insulin pump for 10+ years, but it is SO RARE to see anyone's pump in everyday life, let alone in media coverage.

    I've never been too shy about my pump being visible - it is saving my life on a daily basis after all! - but it would be great to get a few less questions of "is that a beeper?" as more people become aware of the device. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I was misdiagnosed as an adult as having Type 2 diabetes, even though I'm not obese, have eaten a plant-based diet since college, am not sedentary, not a racial minority, and have no family history of the disease. I went to four prominent endocrinologists, and none could normalize my blood sugar. Finally I went to one who asked whether I had ever had an antibody test. I said I didn't think so. He gave me one, and sure enough, I had markers for both Type 1 diabetes and hypothyroid. They didn't used to believe there was such a thing as adult-onset Type 1 diabetes, but now some doctors believe it is the most MISDIAGNOSED disease today! It's called "LADA," "Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults." Type 1 ISN'T just juvenile diabetes, as many doctors are taught in medical school. Even the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation has changed its name, in acknowledgement that Type 1 can first appear in adults, as well as children. If you have been diagnosed with Type 2 but don't have any of the usual symptoms other than high blood sugar, and you're having problems, ask your doctor for an antibody test!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you.

      I have always known that if you can become a gestational diabetic that there had to be an underpinning of diabetes that hasn't been found or even bothered to be looked for by "doctors" who aren't such many times any longer.

      We need healers who are physicians, not doctors who work for a corporation and don't know us at all.

      Delete
  11. We all support you I am also diabetic

    ReplyDelete
  12. It takes courage to be who you are... I am still learning that into my 50s.

    Millions upon millions of women (and men) have lived abused lives and are looking for strong mentors of any age to help US (yes, boy am I included) grow into the people we were meant to be and CAN be.

    ReplyDelete
  13. What an INCREDIBLE journey of self discovery and inspiration! I applaud your decision to "wear/raise awareness of your diagnosis" and not "BE" your diagnosis. Anyone who thinks otherwise is an IDIOT.... in my opinion. Kuddos to you Ms. Idaho. :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Pump or no pump, glucose level consistency is vitally important! I've had this disease for over 40 years and I'm still learning to deal with all of the adverse effects that accompany this debilitating affliction......visual impairment, partial amputation(s), and the list continues.....

    Knock 'em dead while you still can and keep fighting!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. My granddaughter wears a pump. When anyone asks her about it she tells that it is her life support. Glad to see you are not ashamed to wear yours in public either.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you Sierra for being an inspiration for my granddaughter, 9, who has been dealing with Type I for 4 years with incredible grace and poise.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Something my 8yr old daughter deals with everyday..no1 should ever hide there true colors. Please help us help others in showing there true colors
    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/259262273/helping-hands-0

    ReplyDelete
  18. KUDOS TO YOU ! Your a an INSPIRATION ! May you succeed in ALL of your future endeavors!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you for being an inspiration to others. I have a pump also and I wear all the time. When I get questions about it, I see an opportunity to share information. People with this condition can live exciting lives.. Knowledge is empowering.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'm in the medical field and I think it's a wonderful invention for diabetics and it should be shown with no disgrace. People need to become aware and who better to be a spokeswoman but this beautiful woman.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Being a nurse, I think it is amazing tgat she feels comfortable enough to wear it. People don't like different or change, but if they see someone in the public eye wearing it, it may make it easier for them to accept. It helps us with patient teaching if they are not terrified of what they are about to depend on.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I am 51 years old and have been a diagnosed diabetic for 40 years. I do not have a single complication and I truly believe my insulin pump has played a major role in that! (I have worn a pump for 20+ years.)

    My mother was devastated when the doctors told her I had "Juvenile Diabetes" but she and my family did what they had to do to help me manage it with what limited knowledge we had at the time. They never hid my diagnosis so I never thought I needed to either. It was just a part of our lives. It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized some people thought diabetes was something that might be "held against you". That idea had never crossed my mind and, to be honest, I thought those people were crazy!

    In the early '90s, I had 2 children under the age of 4, was working full-time and trying to manage the "best practice" of the time--taking 4-5 shots per day for best coverage of blood sugars. It was time to go on the insulin pump or lose my mind! It was the best decision I have ever made in my life!! The beginning was rocky because technology was a little rough but, again, it was just part of my life so I did what I had to do. I didn't really question it. Kind of like putting my contacts in every morning and doing what needed to be done to take care of them-- if I wanted to be able to see, I had to do it. If I wanted to feel good and avoid short-term and long-term problems, I had to do what needed to be done to manage my diabetes. The advances in pump comfort and capabilities since that time have been amazing and 2 years ago I asked to get a continuous glucose monitor in addition to the pump. Another fantastic thing!

    I wear my pump in plain sight on my front pants pocket whether I'm in shorts, jeans or dress clothes. Not to show it off or draw attention to me but because it's easy for me to access, doesn't get in my way and will be in plain sight if something DOES happen and I need medical assistance. I now see a number of people with pumps and many people know what the pump is which is amazing to me. The pump was such a rare thing when I first got it that I got constant questions and comments. Many doctors didn't even know what it was or have any idea what to do with it. I've always figured the questions and strange looks were a great opportunity to educate people and I haven't been shy about sharing information and showing them the pump and how it works.

    I think people are a lot more accepting than we give them credit for. They just need some information initially and need to feel they can ask the questions. I currently work in a school and often get questions from students. I give them basic information at their level and we move on to our work. Sometimes they will come in the next time and say, "Do you have your pump thing on today? Is it giving you your medicine?" After a few times like that, it's just as normal to them as it is to me-- they don't really give it a second thought and if another student asks, they say, "Oh, that's Mrs. N's pump. It gives her medicine so she doesn't feel sick." and off they go! :)

    I think we need to help newly-diagnosed diabetics be comfortable with diabetes as a part of who they are and not expect to be treated differently or as oddities. This can help the people around them understand diabetes and be comfortable with it too. I think Miss Sandison made the perfect choice.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Way to go! Nothing to be ashamed about.

    ReplyDelete
  24. What Miss Sandison did is outstanding!
    I am a wrestling coach and Type 1 diabetic who wears an insulin pump.

    This past wrestling season i ran into a youth wrestler who was wearing his pump at a tournament (Not while he was wrestling). I spoke with him and showed him my pump. He visibly cheered up and seemed no longer self conscious about wearing his pump. Later his father quietly thanked me for helping his son.

    Miss Sandison is in a position to be a very visible role model for young girls AND boys in her home state of Idaho, and beyond. She obviously takes this seriously. Good for her!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really, he wasn't wearing it while wrestling ??? Just imagine, what a great inspiration that would have been to T1D's, more than even what Miss Idaho today is supposed to be.

      Delete
  25. she should be proud of what she did not ashamed. it is because of people like her that helps the rest of us that are diabetic feel good about our selfs, thanks Miss Sandison for making all us diabetics proud.

    ReplyDelete
  26. There is a big difference between deciding not to show off something because you are ashamed of being a diabetic and not displaying it simply because you choose not to. If Miss Idaho were not using an insulin pump would she have preferred to use half a dozen insulin syringes for bobby pins.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What is the purpose of this remark? Many people with diabetes feel insecure about their disease. I've been diabetic for 43 yrs and I've worn a pump for 26 yrs. I think what she did is amazing and needs to be applauded! I've never been self conscious about my disease, but many are, especially children!

      Delete
  27. Amazing! So many with diabetes feel insecure about having this disease. For years now, I've listened to people I've meant talk about their doctor not approving of the pump which is ridiculous! I've worn a pump for 26 yrs and I've never been healthier. I've been diabetic for 43 yrs! Way to go!

    ReplyDelete
  28. only a heartless S.O.B.would ever make a comment against her. it would only show everyone how dumb they are!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Diabetes Treatment - Remedies for Diabetes : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEeE1PwTjUs

    ReplyDelete