Fear and My Future: How the Omnipod® System Changed Everything

My name is Kate Hall and I was diagnosed with type one diabetes when I was 10 years old. I have been on the Omnipod® System since 2012. Being a Podder™ completely changed my life and has enabled me to succeed in my track and field career. Because of this, I am excited to say that I am currently training for the World Championships and 2020 Tokyo Olympics as a professional track and field athlete. This is how I got here with the help of the Omnipod® System

Fear before I was diagnosed with type one diabetes was thunderstorms. Fear was being alone in the dark, heights, and going to the dentist. Fear was simple.

Fear after I was diagnosed with type one diabetes was worrying about not waking up if I had a low blood sugar during the middle of the night. Fear was not being in control of my own body. But most of all, fear was not being able to do what I loved most, sports. Fear was no longer simple, it was deep and it was real.

After my diagnosis when I was 10 years old, I was told I had to sit out of my team’s championship soccer game because I wasn’t ready to be active. I watched them lose, and this is when the fear set in:

  • What if I’m not able to do what I love ever again?
  • What if my friends think I’m not normal?
  • What if I’m not good enough?

As soon as these thoughts entered my head I knew what I had to do. I had to work as hard as I could to overcome this disease and to not let it control me. There was no way I was going to let it stop me from doing what I love ever again.

My work ethic stemmed from having diabetes at such a young age. I never asked for help from anyone because I wanted to do it on my own, and I believed I could. Having to give myself 5-8 shots of insulin a day (not even counting finger pricks) made me strong and ready to take on whatever came my way. If it wasn’t for diabetes, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Having type one diabetes wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies though. I struggled, just like every other type one diabetic. There were days I didn’t want it anymore, I wanted a cure. But one thing I knew was certain, I wasn’t ever going to be afraid of type one diabetes. This was true, until it started to get in the way of what I loved doing most again.

I thought it was a dream come true to switch from having to give multiple shots a day to an insulin pump where I only had to give a shot every three days. It was at first, but then this insulin pump that had tubing began preventing me from competing in track and field. The pump that looked like a pager hooked to my hip would always fall off during my races and long jump competitions. Nothing would help it stay on, so I resorted to having to remove it completely during my 3-4 hour long competitions. It wasn’t as easy as taking it off and putting it back on in between events; I was constantly running from event to event and having to warm up and stay active. I would leave track meets with my blood sugars as high as 400 and sometimes even with ketones. This is what happens when you go without insulin for several hours. My parents asked my doctor if there was a different pump that was easier to use while being active, but they adamantly said no. The pump I was using was clearly the best one. I was terrified more than ever that I would eventually have to quit track because there was no way I could continue to compete with ketones and sky-high blood sugars.

During this period of feeling terrified, I was a freshman in high school watching the 2012 track and field Olympic Trials on television. I watched the professionals jump 5 feet further than me in the long jump and run over a second faster than me in the 100. These were enormous gaps, but at that moment I told myself, in four years, I was going to be at the 2016 Olympic Trials. This seemed completely unrealistic to those on the outside, but to me, it was going to become a reality as long as I gave it my all.

A couple of months later, I was speaking at a JDRF One Walk and just happened to see a booth promoting the Omnipod® System. My doctor had never even suggested Pod therapy as an alternative to my pump with tubing. I was immediately amazed at how you just stick a tiny, tubeless device on your body for three days and it stays on no problem, no matter how active you are. I HAD to have this. It took some arguing with my doctor, but I finally got the okay to get the Omnipod® System and it completely changed my life.

Competing after going on the Pod was a game changer in my track career. I could finally jump and run stress-free without worrying if my pump was going to fall off. I didn’t have to worry about how high my blood sugar was rising because I was getting the insulin during my events. After I started competing with the Omnipod® System, I improved by leaps and bounds each year leading up to the 2016 Olympic Trials. My dream was beginning to become a reality and I wanted it more than anything. In 2015, on my last jump at the high school national championships, I jumped 22 feet 5 inches and broke the national high school record and qualified for the Olympic Trials. My dream had come true and I wouldn’t have gotten there without the Omnipod® System.

Here is what this experience taught me:

  1. Do what’s best for you, because only you and those you can trust know what’s best.
  1. Don’t be afraid to set goals and work for them, even if they seem unattainable (with diabetes or in life in general).
  1. Don’t be scared to talk to others about having type one because they will look up to you and think you’re a superhero for dealing with this disease.
  1. It’s okay to struggle, because we are all struggling diabetics at one time or another.

I just finished my first ever professional track and field season and came away with my first ever USA National Championship title in the long jump. Currently I am training for the outdoor season with the hopes of making it to the World Championships in Doha in September. My ultimate goal is the 2020 Tokyo Olympics next summer.