ICD utilizes an experiential education model, pairing hands-on learning and reflection to make diabetes a positive force in our lives.
When Caedon Kingdon, Operations Manager at Brigs Youth Sail Training and type one diabetic, reached out to us to see how we could collaborate this summer, we were excited to learn more!
Brigs is a charitable organization dedicated to building leadership, self-efficacy and self-esteem in youth 13-18, through the peer-to-peer delivery of challenging programs aboard our traditionally-rigged vessel. Add a ship full of type ones, and ICD diabetes education and we’ve got what we think is a winning combo!
We had some questions for Caedon before we head out on our inaugural Tall Ship Extreme Adventure this July. Find out how she manages diabetes while sailing and working a physically demanding job.
Q: Can you share a bit about your diagnosis? How you felt, how life changed? or didn’t!
A: I was fairly young, 9, when I was diagnosed and I didn’t really know what was going on for the first little while. I remember a social worker asking me how my friends would react to my new diagnoses and I burst into tears because I just arrived at the hospital and had no idea what was going on! Much of my life stayed the same really, my friends were very supportive and I got an insulin pump after the first year which helped a lot with managing my diabetes myself. I was (and still am sometimes) scared to give myself injections and the spring loaded cartridges made a big difference for me.
Q: What have you struggled with the most when it comes to diabetes?
A: I struggle a lot with my diabetes management, I have always had a difficult time remembering to test my blood sugar and bolus and mentally I’ve had a tough time coping with it.
Q: What are your biggest achievements or proudest moments in your diabetes journey?
A: I’ve always struggled with being told I can’t do something (I’m quite stubborn) so anytime a question of whether I can handle something arises I have always been quick to prove that I can take on the task! Whether it’s telling friends/family/strangers that “yes, I can eat that.” or traveling around Europe and sailing tall ships I’m proud I’ve always stood up to the task and kept an eye on my diabetes at the same time.
Q:What supports have you accessed to help you manage your diabetes?
A: This is more financial support than anything but I’ve been using the Assistive Devices program to help pay for my insulin pump supplies forever and it has been a huge help. I have also been privileged to access mental health support through St. Michael’s Hospital.
Q: What support do you wish you had in the beginning? Now?
A: I wish I was asked more questions by my doctors growing up. I really struggled with my mental health in high school, in particular in relation to my diabetes and it was never really followed up on or looked into when I mentioned it. I always suspected it was a cause for my high A1C numbers. It wasn’t until I switched hospitals that my doctor helped me look into the problems I had been facing.
Q: You have a demanding, 24 hour/day job on the ship. Does your t:slim X2 insulin pump with Control-IQ technology make daily life simpler?
A: Control IQ takes away the stress of constantly keeping an eye on my sugar during physical activity, especially when I have to spring into action when the weather gets rough.
Q: How does being “at sea” affect your management?
A: I have found being onboard the ship helps immensely with my diabetes management. Because of the rigid watch system I am always sitting down to eat at the same time and taking breaks at the same times as opposed to my life on shore of running around without much structure. I do have to be far more conscientious of lows however as life onboard can be extremely physically demanding.
Q: How do you support youth living with T1D when they sign up for a Brigs Youth Sailing program? What strategies would you share to make the sailing experience as smooth as possible?
A: I advise all T1Ds to sit down with me and discuss their management onboard before their trip. Our Captain and First Mate onboard have been trained in diabetes management and all of the crew are given training in medical emergencies and what to look for if someone has low blood sugar. For diabetics sailing with us, I would suggest lowering insulin levels before going on watch and setting up a new schedule for testing blood sugars that coincides with the watch system. Testing before or after every change of watch is a good way to keep on top of things. I also recommend bringing a waist bag or some kind of pouch to keep your testing kit or devices on hand. Going up and down the ladder to get to your bag (especially with low blood sugar) can be inconvenient and sometimes dangerous.
Q: One fun fact about yourself!
A: My middle name is Six and I have a twin sister who does not have T1D…oops that’s two.
Find out more about about our Tallship Extreme Adventure on our website.
Tandem Diabetes Care is a corporate sponsor of I Challenge Diabetes.