"I never really lived a life without diabetes," said Lauren Misiaszek. Only 11 months old at the time of her diagnosis, type 1 diabetes has always been part of Lauren's life.
"I never really had to adjust like others have to when they are diagnosed at an older age."
While she grew up taking insulin injections like most in the 90s, Lauren was one of the first adolescents to use the Omnipod® System in 2006. Now, at 19 years old, she is an Omnipod® System veteran, having watched the technology evolve over the last decade.
"I grew up, and the company did as well, right alongside me," she said proudly.
Having lived with type 1 diabetes for nearly your entire life doesn't make it any easier, though. Lauren has faced her share of challenges.
At the age of 6 years old, she recalls her frustration with having to wear an insulin pump at all. For a youngster, the tubing of her first traditional pump was an annoyance, and always having to be attached.
"I liked not having to be constantly asked what I was wearing," Lauren recalls, thinking of curiosity from strangers and the same questions over and over.
A 6 years old, she also struggled with identifying and expressing the symptoms of high and low blood sugars. Looking back, Lauren can see having diabetes at such a young age also meant her parents essentially had diabetes, too.
"I'm very grateful for everything both my parents did for my diabetes," she said, thinking back on countless midnight blood sugar checks.
As an avid athlete in her teens, Lauren resented the visibility of her pump, along with the blood sugar fluctuations that come with intense exercise. No matter the number of years you've lived with type 1 -- including when you've never truly lived without it -- it still presents challenge after challenge every single day.
Fortunately, going tubeless and using a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) meant many of those challenges disappeared.
"The Omnipod® System really allowed me to hide my disease when I didn't want it to be visible," said Lauren.
And on the field, her athletic endeavors became so much easier -- and more fun. "I could do whatever everyone else was doing! It was really awesome."
Today, as a college student, Lauren knows the Omnipod® System makes a big difference, enabling her to become the best version of herself as both a student and an athlete. Not having to disconnect from her pump for sports meant more control over her insulin doses and blood sugars during and after athletic events.
"The Omnipod® System really changed my life -- I can't stress that enough," she said adamantly. "I've used it for so long, and we're all so grateful for it. It has helped me become a college athlete."
"Whenever I would mention that I have diabetes, my friends would say, 'My grandma has diabetes.' I didn't understand why others would compare me to them," Lauren recalled.
Overtime, she became more and more hesitant to share anything about her diabetes or blood sugars with some of her friends, often using the nurse's office to check her blood sugar in hiding at school.
She remembers even hiding her diabetes entirely from her middle school boyfriend.
"We would eat lunch together every day. I didn't want him to know I had diabetes or think of me differently, so I would run to the nurse's office [to check my blood sugar and take insulin] while he was getting his lunch."
Lauren remembers making excuses for not being able to go to his house because she knew she wouldn't be able to hide her diabetes there.
"Being compared to grandmas and dogs is embarrassing," she added.
And then she met Madi.
Madi Conrad was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 13 and also uses the Omnipod® System.
"I never had anyone who could relate to me so much -- we're just so similar!" Lauren recalled about her newfound friendship.
Madi and Lauren supported each other throughout college, becoming best friends without skipping a beat.
"She helped me open up and be more confident and more educated about my diabetes," explained Lauren. "And I helped her better her diabetes management. We really fit each other's needs."
Overtime, their friendship meant that Lauren gained more confidence in living with her diabetes in public. And Madi gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for having healthier blood sugar levels, even giving Lauren most of the credit for her improved A1c levels.
"We've helped each other in many ways," Lauren added.
Lauren and Madi are both excited about the Omnipod® System's future technology -- especially the closed-loop system, The Omnipod® 5 Automated Glucose Control System, Powered by Horizon.
Lauren imagines a future where diabetes interferes even less, thanks to the next generation Omnipod® that does most of the thinking, checking, and dosing for you. "The idea of it is really amazing."
No matter how amazing the technology options may be, there's nothing Lauren hopes for more than a cure.
"I've been lucky to have such a great support system of friends and family," said Lauren. "For all the people who don't have a support system or the device they need, that would be my wish -- for them to get what they need to be healthy. That's really important."
While we wait for a cure, Lauren and Madi know they have the Omnipod® System on their side, and of course, they have each other.
"One day, I want to wake up and just not worry about these things," she said, in hopes for the future.
Nobody has to do this alone -- join the Pod Squad to connect with fellow Podders who know what life with diabetes is all about!
©Insulet Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
* CAUTION -- The Omnipod® 5 Automated Glucose Control System is an investigational device. Limited by Federal (or United States) law to investigational use.