On Love and Diabetes
Valentine’s Day is today – a day that’s typically all about love and romance. Now, when you think of diabetes and Medtronic, romance might not be the first word to come to your mind. But when I think of diabetes, Medtronic and romance, two names immediately came to mind: Amanda and Brett Griswold. Amanda works here in Marketing with Lenny the Lion and a few other fun projects. When I first started at Medtronic someone told me a brief version of their story and all I could say was “Wow!” So I jumped at the opportunity to interview these two love birds.
The LOOP: How long have you worked for Medtronic?
6 1/2 years, although there was a period where Brett worked for Medtronic too. I recruited him!
The LOOP: How did the two of you meet?
He (Brett) called in to get started on an insulin pump, typically a painless process, but his insurance had an error on his account which wouldn't let me submit for a pre-authorization. We had to call the insurance on three-way several times and when they would put us on hold we'd chat about our lives. There was an instant connection, so once he finally received his pump, I asked for one of the Certified Pump Trainers I know to be the one to train him. She said he was cute and nice and dropped a hint to him that we'd be cute together. At the time he worked for the local chapter of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) so we stayed in occasional communication but never actually met. About 9 months after our initial conversations, he was at an ADA event and ran into one of my co-workers and asked about me. She told him that he should give me a call, which he did (well actually he emailed me). We mutually decided that it was about time to finally meet in person.
After living with diabetes for 15 years and denying an insulin pump could help for just as long, I accidently dosed 26 units of meal time insulin instead of 26 units of basal insulin. The mistake landed me in the Emergency Room where I could no longer deny that an insulin pump would help. This mistake would not have happened with a pump since long-acting insulin is no longer required. The next day my doctor placed an order for an insulin pump and said that someone from Medtronic would be contacting me within the next few days. When no one called by the end of that same day, I grew impatient and decided to call Medtronic to see why they were taking so long (4 hours) to contact me? Did they not know that I couldn’t stand the idea of an insulin pump the day before, but now that I decided to try it, I wanted it yesterday! When I called in to the follow-up on my order, a lovely young lady named Amanda answered the phone and helped expedite the process. We had a few issues along the way regarding my insurance so the order process took about a week and I spoke with Amanda daily about it as I couldn't wait to start an insulin pump. During the process we because friends and finally decided to go on a date after being set up by a mutual friend.
The LOOP: Were you nervous about going out with someone you knew through work/through your pump company
Well, it was technically a blind date so that was the most nerve-wracking. I wasn't so concerned about knowing him through work, but after our first date he'd send me diabetes information (since he worked for the ADA) and I wasn't sure if he was interested in dating or if he just wanted to stay in touch since we both were in the diabetes field. I didn't know how to respond to things he'd send me
I've never really gone on a blind date before so yes, I was nervous. We had spent so much time getting to know each other over the phone that I was nervous that it would be weird if we did not "click" in person.
The LOOP: Where was your first date/how did it go?
He lived about an hour away from me (our corporate office in Northridge, CA), so somehow he convinced me to drive to him??!! I met him at his apartment and then we walked down the street to a cute little restaurant. The overall date was ok, but I have to admit sparks didn’t fly. In fact, at one point I got a little annoyed with him because right before we were about to eat I thought he was texting someone on his phone. That’s when I realized that he was actually giving himself insulin with his pump. I’m glad I knew of the pump and diabetes, otherwise I might not have given him a second chance. J I left the date thinking he was a nice guy, but didn’t think it was going to go anywhere. Something in me though must have known because that night I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t stop thinking about him. The next day I started really hoping he was interested too.
The first date took place in Long Beach where I lived at the time. Amanda will probably tell you that sparks did not fly on our first date but I think is it went okay.
The LOOP: When did you know he/she was “the one”?
I know it's crazy, but after I left the second date I knew. I’ve always been a girl who knows what I want, so much so that people used to tell me that I was going to be single forever because this “perfect” guy I had created in my head didn’t exist. When I left that date, I knew I had found my “perfect.”
Surprisingly, I would say after our first date. Amanda had helped me through a challenging time in my life when I decided to go on an insulin pump and the way she showed that she cared about me during the process is something that really touched me. After going on our first date I felt even more comfortable with Amanda and I began to picture our life together.
The LOOP: For you, what’s the hardest thing about living with diabetes/being the spouse of someone who lives with diabetes?
Honestly, sometimes it’s remembering that he has diabetes and what it takes out of him. Brett doesn’t want anyone to feel sorry for him or to cut him any slack because he has diabetes. He very rarely asks for help. So there are times that he’s being crabby or rude and I’ll get mad. He’ll have to then tell me that he’s having a high or low blood sugar and then I feel bad for getting annoyed with him. Sometimes I wish I knew exactly how a high or low blood sugar felt because then I think I’d fully understand what he’s going through.
For me the most challenging aspect of diabetes is that success is never a constant. What I mean by that is I could have all of my pump settings perfect, do a nice job of carb counting, and have perfect blood sugars for a week, and then all of a sudden my blood sugar sky rockets or drops without me understanding what impacted it so differently. I always say that diabetes does not give you a day off and just when you think that you have this thing mastered it will quickly remind you that it is here to stay (or at least until there is a cure).
The LOOP: Is there a “silver lining” to life with diabetes?
Absolutely. Brett would not be the person he is today without it and I am so proud of him each and every day. He was diagnosed at the age of 9 and because he’s always had to take good care of himself, he’s very responsible and always looks to the positive in situations. He’s so easy going and reminds me to enjoy each and every day.
Absolutely. I often think about where I am at in life and what has enabled me to get this far and I quickly realize that diabetes has impacted each aspect of my life. Personally, professionally, and socially. In my early days of living with diabetes I used to hide it from my friends and even pretend that it did not exist because I felt like it made me different. But, after years of thinking about how diabetes makes me different and works against me, I now have a completely different mindset. I came to see the benefit in discussing diabetes with others and I still believe that diabetes does make me different, but the part of my thinking that has changed is I am now going to use it to work for me. Physically, I challenge myself every day to do more and use diabetes as the "fuel" to my fire as I am working to run my first marathon later this year. Professionally, I work in sales in the diabetes industry and having diabetes makes me that much more committed to my work. Socially, I am active with diabetes organizations such as the American Diabetes Association where this year I have been asked to serve as the Promotions Chair of the LA Diabetes Expo. The relationships I have formed through my work with these diabetes organizations have been life changing.
The LOOP: You’re a busy hard-working couple now with an 10-month-old baby. How does being parents change your diabetes management routine or how you think about diabetes management? Does it?
I think sometimes Brett uses a low blood sugar to get out of cleaning bottles. :-) Becoming a parent is a big adjustment on its own and I think often times I don’t give Brett enough credit for being such an involved dad while also managing his diabetes and working so hard. If anything I think on my end, it makes me want to be more involved in his diabetes management decisions and it makes me worry about him more. When we were in the hospital giving birth to our son, I realized I hadn’t seen him check his blood sugar in a while. We get so caught up in taking care of our son that I want to make sure he’s also taking care of himself.
This is an interesting question because the one commodity that is challenged the most when you are a parent is time. I no longer have the time to lay around when my blood sugars are all over the place as I have a 10-month-old who crawls up to me and wants to play. How could I say no to him? But I now have to be more efficient with my diabetes planning regarding pre workout routines, workout time of the day so I do not miss out on my parenting duties, and stretching. But, as a parent who has diabetes the part that has changed the most for me is thinking about the possibility of handing down my diabetes genes and how we would deal with it. When I was younger I would get annoyed at times by the amount of questions and concern that my parents showed me regarding my diabetes and blood sugar levels. But now that I think about the possibility of my baby boy getting diabetes I completely understand where my parents were coming from.
The LOOP: Does everyone who orders a pump from Medtronic get this level of service?
This is actually a joke around the office for people who know our story, about the amazing customer service that Medtronic gives.
I sure hope so, but I'm hoping not from Amanda!
Editor’s Note: In the interest of full disclosure, here at Medtronic, we strive to provide outstanding customer service. But matchmaking is not guaranteed.
The LOOP: How do you plan on spending this Valentine’s Day?
We’ll probably have a quiet night at home. We’ll likely make the day more about our son and make it fun for him.
I cannot reveal my plans or else it would not be a surprise :)
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
- Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems.
- Successful operation of the insulin infusion pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems requires adequate vision and hearing to recognize alerts and alarms.
Medtronic Diabetes Insulin Infusion Pumps
- Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for individuals who are unable or unwilling to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day.
- Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately.
Medtronic Diabetes Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) Systems
- The information provided by CGM systems is intended to supplement, not replace, blood glucose information obtained using a home glucose meter. A confirmatory fingerstick is required prior to treatment.
- Insertion of a glucose sensor may cause bleeding or irritation at the insertion site. Consult a physician immediately if you experience significant pain or if you suspect that the site is infected.
Please visit www.medtronicdiabetes.com/importantsafetyinformation for complete safety information.