Like it has for most of us, the pandemic has switched things up for Steve and Shelly Harvey. They’ve been stuck indoors doing home improvement projects, and only doing distanced activities like bike riding and golfing. And they had the special blessing of giving birth to their first child in August. But one aspect of life that hasn’t changed recently is Steve’s constant need to monitor and control his glucose levels because of Type 1 diabetes.
“I was 12 years old when I was diagnosed,” Steve recalls. “Nobody in my family had a history of Type 1 diabetes, so we all had a lot of questions. It really was quite the adjustment for the kid who loved snacks and was always playing soccer or basketball. My whole family started eating healthier because of it as we tried to always stay on top of it. We never wanted diabetes to control me.”
Even though he works in IT and is a self-described ‘tech guy,’ Steve went old school when managing his diabetes by putting a drop of blood on a test strip to find out his current blood sugar levels. Most Type 1 diabetics have to go through this process around 10 times a day. “When I was working in the office, I would keep a tester and strips in my cube and would always make time for that one minute it would take me to test,” says Steve. “I would also keep something to eat depending if the strip reading told me that my levels were high or low.” Things changed for Steve two years ago when he attended an Emerging Leaders Council meeting hosted by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund. At ELC, people living with Type 1 diabetes and their friends and families get together to discuss their experiences with new technology that is used to manage Type 1 diabetes.
“I went to my first meeting and left with a continuous glucose monitor,” says Steve. “It was a game changer. The wonderful Kathleen Trubee put an extra sensor she had on me and promised me that I would love it.
“And I can’t lie, it’s changed both my and my wife’s lifestyle. I feel more comfortable when I’m out biking or playing soccer and can easily check my levels at any time. The new peace of mind also helps my wife sleep better. She can check up on me no matter where I’m at.”
Usually taped to the abdomen, a CGM has a tiny sensor that penetrates the skin that takes glucose readings all day and all night and transmits the results.
“Because I love new tech, I try to play around with all of the latest innovations that I find helpful or just think are cool,” says Steve. “My CGM is connected to an app that lets me monitor it in a web browser while I work; I can ask Amazon’s Alexa for my readings while I’m busy cooking or cleaning; and I can check my Garmin smartwatch for my levels while I’m out biking or in bed at night.
“Technology really is great and there are a lot of resources out there for us Type 1 diabetics.”
To hear more about the latest advances, the Harveys look forward to the monthly Emerging Leaders Council meeting.
“ELC is utterly phenomenal,” says Steve. “We discuss new technology, we vent, we laugh, we share stories and enjoy a beverage. We help each other and learn from each other. We give feedback on what worked for us or what hasn’t. It’s one of the best and close-knit communities that you’ll ever find.”
Since attending that first meeting, the Harveys have become regular volunteers with JDRF. In addition to helping her own husband with his Type 1 diabetes, Shelly helps plan JDRF fundraising events like the annual Bourbon & BowTie Bash to fund diabetes research.
“Once we got to a few events, we felt the support from all of the people around us,” says Steve. “When you’re there, you feel comfortable with everyone without ever needing to speak a word. It’s a truly incredible foundation.
“I most appreciate their quest for that Holy Grail — the dream of one day finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes. I look forward to that day and I’m so thankful for all the work JDRF has done for us.”
For more information about JDRF Southern & Central Ohio, please visit swojdrf.org