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Christine Croteau

Date Posted: Thursday, February 01, 2018

Flights of Freedom: Diabetic Test Strips Metamorphosis into Butterflies


Since her diagnosis with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at age 31, Christine Croteau hasn't let the disease control her. She continues to find new ways to challenge herself through mind, body and soul. Her mechanisms for coping with T1D include teaching and practicing both yoga and meditation. Christine has also  completed a marathon and a 35 km backpacking trek through the back country of Newfoundland. 

What impresses Christine the most about the UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence is “the providers care. They're knowledgeable and invested in the wellbeing of their patients." She credits Dr. Samir Malkani with helping to keep her blood sugars within target range.

Christine is also passionate about her artwork. Her creation titled “Flights of Freedom: Diabetic Test Strips Metamorphosis into Butterflies” was featured in an exhibit called “Healing Fibers” at Worcester’s Sprinkler Factory art gallery. 

View the butterflies "in flight" and hear from Christine in her own words  

She enjoys creating sculptural installations made from every day objects and recycled materials. Christine created this piece using glucose meter test strips, used multiple times each day by people living with diabetes to check blood sugar levels. Utilizing test strips to create a print plate, she created 80 double sided prints with red ink. She then cut them into origami squares which were then folded with the help of her art class. 

“I wanted to create a piece of art which conveys both my frustrations and sense of liberation from the U.S. Health Care System,” Croteau said. “Outside of living 24/7 with T1D, a huge portion of my life is spent at a medical appointment. I spend a lot of time ordering diabetes supplies, scheduling appointments and getting approval for supplies from health insurance, pharmacies and medical suppliers.”

When hit by the air of a fan, the paper butterflies "fly" around nets, although some were inside the nets. "I find our health care system to be quite fragmented and nonsensical," she said. “I often feel as though I'm caught in a net or swarming around in circles getting nowhere. I must remind myself that I have a full life full of hope, outside of the nets, free and liberated from both diabetes and the health care system.“

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