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Too Young to Burnout at 30

By Karrie Hawbaker

Public Relations Manager

Posted:  3/31/2011 12:00 AM


Today we’d like to introduce Kristen Call, another Medtronic employee living with diabetes, who initially started her career in the diabetes business unit while on MDI. Now working with Medtronic Navigation in the operating room, Kristen opens up to The LOOP about her personal challenges with treating her diabetes, and how turning 30 motivated her when she needed it most.

I first started working with Medtronic in the diabetes business unit in April of 2007 as an Insulin Pump Specialist.  At the time, I was managing my diabetes with multiple daily injections.  I know, pretty ironic that I took a position selling insulin pumps when I hadn’t even started using one myself.  In all honesty, even after I started with the company, I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to go on the pump at all.  Even though I saw all of the benefits of it, I just wasn’t sure it was for me.

By the time I completed my training, I decided to give the pump a try, and by that time, was very excited!  Even though I had concerns about sleeping, working out and participating in other physical activities while connected, I was anxious to give it a chance.  While pump therapy has made a tremendous change in my life, I’ve certainly had my ups and downs.

I’ve experienced what all of you have or will experience at some point — burnout.  In the nearly four years I have had the pump, I have disconnected and quit using it for long periods of time on more than one occasion.  Like many of you, I get angry at my diabetes and will sometimes go days where I test only once or twice and just guess how much insulin to take.  Sometimes, it can just be too much, and I want…no, NEED a break.  It was just recently that I made myself stop to take a moment and look at where I was.

I turned the big 3-0 in December, which also marks the 15th anniversary of my diagnosis with type 1, and for several months leading up to that day, I started reflecting on everything in my life.  Am I happy with where I am?  Is this where I thought I would be at this age?  What can I do to turn things around?  I also took the time to look at my health.  At 29, I started experiencing health issues that I was not prepared for, many of them being directly related to my diabetes.  Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a scare to realize you need to get back on track with your health to prevent further complications.

A little over two years ago, I transferred to the navigation unit of Medtronic.  My current position as a Computer Assisted Surgery Specialist tends to be full of long road-trips and long, varying hours.  I spend most of my time in the operating room with surgeons to be there for assistance and troubleshooting with our equipment.  These are critical times to be on top of my game and fully alert.

Working in the hospital environment has had a sobering effect on me in many ways, especially when it comes to dealing with people who suffer from a terminal illness.  While I will have type 1 diabetes for the rest of my life, it is something I can treat, whereas someone with an inoperable tumor or other terminal disease does not have that choice.  I can at least minimize my complications by tightening my control and managing my diabetes to the best of my ability.  On top of my birthday, my not-so-happy anniversary, and my job, I knew it was time to step-up to the plate and take control.   

I am happy to say that a little over a month ago, I took charge and I reconnected to my insulin pump.  While I still struggle a bit and even get a little irritated at times, I know that pump therapy is the best way for me personally to manage my diabetes.  Turning 30 has certainly changed my views on many aspects of my life.  While I know I will continue to have good days and bad, I have made a commitment to myself: to do everything I can to live a long happy and healthy life.  And, when I am feeling a little down or a burnt out, I know it’s time to stop and reflect. 

- Kristin

- 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 for complete safety information.


Michael Hoskins

Posted on Fri Apr 01 21:30:33 GMT 2011

Thank you for sharing your story, Kristen. You're absolutely right, that even though it seems like a lot to manage sometimes, it IS manageable and we aren't destined for doom just because we're diabetes. We can basically have "normal" and productive lives. That's something my pair of MM pump reps during the past decade (in Michigan and Indiana) have both exhibited, and they've been role models just like so many others out there in the Diabetes Community are achieving great things. Balance and perspective always helps, too, and sometimes those sobering situations are what we need to keep things in perspecive. Good luck on keeping up on things, now that you've hit the big 3-0, and hopefully you'll be able to share some more down the road!


Posted on Wed Apr 20 13:13:19 GMT 2011

Kristin, Thank you for sharing your inspiring and very down-to-earth attitude about the realities of living with diabetes.

Richard F. De Pol

Posted on Mon May 16 06:58:27 GMT 2011

Realities, lol. OK, here is the reality of diabetes! It stinks, and life has gotten way worse now on the medtronics Paradigm723 pump vs injections. I have a 430 yesterday, and a 410 today, changed the site and all, but thats not it, plus the trainer that I had just wanted me to refer to the notes that she wrote out! OH yea right, like I am going to carry them with me everywhere, nope, don't think so!
And the territory rep has contacted me once, via email, with one phone call. Lets see if I can make it to next week, before I kick the bucket?
I had waaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy more success on injections! All that I have had with this pump is major issues!
Already in the ER twice, but with Animus I NEVER was!
So, I wonder what kind of bucket I should kick over? And sugestions?

Amanda Sheldon

Posted on Tue May 17 00:11:00 GMT 2011

@Richard Thanks for contacting us. We have forwarded this information to our 24-hour helpline, which will be in touch with you shortly.

Tia Johnson

Posted on Fri Oct 28 19:27:24 GMT 2011

Thanks so much for posting this story! I am approaching the 30 mark myself!! and I have had diabetes since I was four years old. I was on insulin shots my whole life. About five years I tried the pump, but for some reason I was terrified! And I couldn't get used to the idea of being attached to a machine 24/7. I was worried about dating, sleeping, and the fact that it was a constant reminder that Im a diabetic. I went off the pump a couple years ago and I was determined to keep my sugar in control on shots. Was doing well until recently, I was under a lot of stress and my A1C shot up to 9! Have been debating going back on the pump, I just know my sugars weren't all that great on the pump either, and that if I'm going to do it I wanna do it right. I know its vain, but until they get the sensor connected into the pump I don't want to wear it because thats just something else to put on my body!!!
I also work in the healthcare field, (I'm a registered dietitian) and I end up feeling like such a hypocrite because I love sweets and have a hard time keeping my BG under control!!!


Posted on Sat Oct 29 01:11:36 GMT 2011

@Tia Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. If you want to talk to someone about going back on a pump, just email us at loopblog (at) and we can connect you with someone.

Cindy Dollinger

Posted on Sat Sep 08 15:18:20 GMT 2012

Thank you, Kristin, for sharing. Burnout is TRULY the word for it.

I have had Type I Diabetes for 40 years. I am 45 years old having been on injections for 20 and pumping for 20. I have much to be grateful for. First of all, thank you MiniMed! Through quality Diabetes Management, I am proud to say that I have 8 children all of which are mine. They are aged 20, 18, 16, 13, 11, 8, 5 and 10 months. All but the first are "Pump Babies"

So far I have no complications and I feel very healthy except for burnout. You see, I can handle my diabetes, with normal "ups and downs" of course, but my burnout problem really began when one of my daughters was diagnosed with Type I. Health-wise she is doing fine, and she is coping well. She is on injections, but we are working very hard to get her on a pump. Because of her insurance, we have to document her blood sugars and insulin doses, AND her daily food intake with ITEMIZED carb counts for EACH item FOR 90 DAYS!!!

We are on day 52, and it is so overwhelming at dinnertime. I not only make the dinner, but I have to measure and fill her plate, count the carbs, record everything, help her fill her syringe (luckily my loving husband helps with this when he can) give her injection (must give hubby credit for this too) and THEN take care of my own meal needs....not to mention I have a 10 month old as well who often times gets fed before I do. I must say that my lifestyle would be very difficult if not impossible without my pump.

So, burnout.....yes. Once our daughter gets her pump, I look for life to become a bit easier so I can refocus on my own Diabetes Managament again.


Posted on Sat Mar 02 05:56:34 GMT 2013

Very impressive. You have a lot to do but you're doing it. I am 53 having Type 1 for 30 yrs Went on a pump 8 yrs ago. Doing very well Just started a glucose sensor 2 weeks ago. I'm burned out too. Mostly from people I work with I get tired of hearing them complain about others bringing food into work like donuts etc. cause they want to diet. I just get so mad and want to say try living with diabetes you have it real easy. Try counting carbs etc like we do and diabetes never leaves there is no break.

Anyways good luck.


Posted on Thu Jul 25 22:25:52 GMT 2013

First, I love Cindy's story as I am 34 and have had diabetes for 25 years and have an 11 year old son and one (girl or boy?) on the way. Thanks for sharing Cindy! I know it can be frustrating but I've been on the pump for 13 years and truly believe it saved my life. I have ZERO complications from diabetes and my A1C is below 6.5. I test 8-10 times a day but feel completely lucky that this disease is so manageable and that I don't have something much worse like cancer etc. I work about 60 hours a week in a demanding job and yes, when your bloodsugar is going low and you are trying to converse with a client, it can be quite the headache (literally). However, I believe it's all about positive perspective. If you concentrate on your blessings and learn from the challenges then you can lead a very normal life. I honestly can't imagine my life without diabetes. It has made me who I am today. I can't imagine what it would be like if my children were ever diagnosed (Sorry to hear about your daughter Cindy) and I hope I never will have to face that but if it were to happen then I will take a page from my Dad's book...He always told me that there were far worse diseases that I could have been diagnosed with and he always got me to look at the positive side of living with diabetes. It's not easy but there are so many people with far worse diseases and situations. I am so grateful to Medtronic for developing a tool that has made my life even more manageable than the two shots a day I took for 12 years. I wish you all the luck in the world Karrie and just know that if you manage your diabetes and don't ignore it then you can live without complications for a VERY long time. Blessings to you all.

sherrty martin-currie

Posted on Fri Jul 26 00:00:17 GMT 2013

Hi I have lived with type 1 diabetes for 30 years. I am a registered nurse and worked a very demanding job. I just recently retired at the age of 61. I had diabetes burnout. I was tired of lows and highs and needing to be on top of everything at work and at home. I have been pumping for 8 years and my Medtronic pump has saved me. I definitely have good and bad days but it could be worse. I am grateful to Medtronic.

shirley hughes

Posted on Fri Jul 26 00:03:35 GMT 2013

anything can be a burn out- I've been a diabetic for about 14 years..2 years ago I kind of gave up on my diabetes..400 500bg's I could never get it down.. I felt doomed to probably die only 53 and starting on complications.. till my husband overheard a rep talking to my dr. about a new product.. my husband set a appt for me..the following week. I've been on the insuling pump now for nearly 5 weeks and my levels have never been this low averaging in the hundreds my Ac1 has been up in the 12's and now should be in the 6's by my next test.. I feel alive again! At 1st it was scary.. and I had 2 problems but I called the help line and they walk me right thru.. and the staff and my nurse and trainers have been more than gracious and professional Wow! so proud of my accomplishment wish I had this 13 years ago.... :-]

Susan Cox

Posted on Fri Jul 26 00:26:40 GMT 2013

I guess I must be beaten down or something because I've not suffered burnout, I think I'm just used to being a type-1. I'm kind of proud of being one for 47.5 years actually. I have ups and downs, for sure. I recently saw a dietitian and she instantly gave me a head-slappingly easy fix to a breakfast puzzle I had. So always something to learn. I believe my pump is a huge part of my happiness. I wish it was sleeker, but hey, it works for me.

Michael Lyon

Posted on Fri Jul 26 05:15:44 GMT 2013

From 5-9 -2006 I have had kidney failure and went on kidney dialysis for six years til I got a kidney transplant. I have had diabetes since Dec 1992 which messed up my kidneys. Since I got my kidney I am doing fine, in oct I change diabetic doctors and my new doctor put me on the pump. I started June 27 2013 , I am doing good , I still need some fine tuning and it will come August 1 . I am doing good on my medtronic pump. I thank God for the new kidney , I gave me my life back, my wife died march 20 2011, I wish she could have lived to see me get a kidney and her also get a insulin pump.

Amy Plaxton

Posted on Fri Jul 26 11:43:31 GMT 2013

Up until reading this I didn't know what was wrong with me. I have been pumping for 5 years now and injections for 5 yrs. for 6 months now I have been avoiding testing and just not caring. I have never disconnected the pump but I just want to pretend I don't have diabetes. I want to avoid the endless finger picking, carb counting and the constant thinking about everything! I now realize other people have this feeling too and it's up to me to get out of this burnout!


Posted on Fri Jul 26 14:13:50 GMT 2013

Love Cindy's story and her candidness about things I think all of us living with diabetes feel from time to time and rarely admit. I am 53 and have had type 1 diabetes for 44 years and been on a Medtronic pump for over 30 years. I have no major complications from my diabetes and believe my insulin pump has been the key! While I struggle at times and get burned out, I have a wonderful husband, awesome son and family and friends that help me through! And I am reminded daily how lucky I am and how important a positive attitude really is! My mom is legally blind from macular degeneration and other than driving, doesn't let it stop her! My brother has chron's disease and is struggling to have some semblance of a normal life and yet he never gives up! He and my mom are planning to go skydiving with me in the fall! Thanks to Medtronic, I've been able to do so many things and see so many places and I know I still have lots to do and see!


Posted on Fri Jul 26 23:48:23 GMT 2013

Thank you all for sharing your inspirational stories. As a person with diabetes, I personally know that there can be some hard days but it’s so encouraging to see how the diabetes community can come together and support one another through those times.
@Layna – Congratulations on your bundle of joy!

@Michael – I’m glad to hear you’re doing better now.

@Debbie – have fun skydiving!

If there’s ever anything we can do to help, just let us know!

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