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Lisa Marie Hull

Type 1 Diabetes Success Story

Date Posted: Monday, October 11, 2021


Lisa was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) on Halloween night in 1985 at the age of 4.  She became unresponsive while trick or treating and was rushed to the emergency room at UMass Memorial.  They admitted her with a blood sugar of nearly 700.  “I still remember being in that hospital room,” she said.  “However, I have many positive memories of my childhood.”  She attributes her diabetes success to her parents.  “They were incredible and really took ownership of it.  Now as a parent, I appreciate it more than ever.” 

Halloween 1985 just before being diagnosed & school photo her first year with type 1 diabetes

Lisa is the proud mother of two boys, a three-year-old and a newborn who arrived during the summer of 2021.  “Pregnancy saved my life,” she said.  “I never thought I could achieve extremely tight blood sugar control.”   Prior to getting pregnant for the first time, her care team suggested she meet with a behavioral psychologist to help with the important mind & body connection.  She was skeptical at first but is now glad that she followed through.  It helped her control her blood sugars unlike ever before.  “I called it priming the vessel,” she said.  ”Behavioral health therapy prepared me physically and mentally to conceive and give birth.”  

Lisa’s parents were open and honest with her at a young age about the risks of uncontrolled diabetes.  When she was seven years old, Lisa’s parents sat her on the couch and explained the importance of managing her blood sugars.  “They told me high sugars wouldn’t allow me to run and jump,” she said.  “But they were also honest about the negative affect it can have on my eyesight and other parts of my body.”

At the zoo with her parents when she left the hospital in 1985 & with her own family in 2021

Lisa said she doesn’t feel she missed out on anything as a child because it’s all she ever knew.  “When there was birthday cake at school, Mom made sure I had my own special snack.  It was nothing to be ashamed of.  She made me feel like I had a superpower.” 

She has fond memories of attending the Clara Barton Camp in Oxford, MA.  “I first attended diabetes camp at seven years old and still have relationships with fellow campers.”

Being dropped off for her first week of diabetes summer camp
& returning returning as a young adult to her first cabin "Pixie Place"
As a teenager at Clara Barton Camp with a friend for life who helped Lisa throughout both pregnancies
& returning to camp with her son  

Lisa is a strong proponent of participating in programs and having a support system at any age.  “Living with T1D, it’s important to have a community around you.  There’s a bond between us.”

She also appreciates the importance of a quality care team.  For many years she was seen by by a nurse practitioner who had type 1 diabetes.  “She was inspirational,” Lisa said.  “She successfully raised two children and let me know I can do anything that anyone else can.”

That nurse practitioner has since retired, and Lisa recently was recently examined by Dr. Samir Malkani for the first time.   He was very impressed by her commitment to diabetes management and how after 36 years of living with T1D, she’s had no complications and the only medication she takes is insulin.

“He’s very thorough,” she said. “Top to bottom.  He’s an endocrinologist but was focused on my overall well-being.”  Lisa appreciated that Dr. Malkani covered “the A, B, C’s of diabetes,” which is the A1c, blood pressure and cholesterol.  He also checked the wound from her cesarean section, and of course they went over the data from her continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and insulin pump.  “He noticed right away that my blood sugars had been running a little high overnight,” she said.  “It’s refreshing to have another set of eyes notice something immediately that you may have been struggling with for several months.”      

Lisa takes advantage of the benefits of myChart and the access it provides to her care team between appointments.  “During my recent pregnancy, I used myChart to message questions about the guidelines and my blood sugar target range.  It was during the pandemic, so it was wonderful not to have to go into the clinic!”    

Lisa takes a holistic approach to her health and is committed to healthy eating, exercise and stress management.  “When I was young my father used to tell me that I had to think like a Spartan,” she said.  “He told me I had to run faster, think smarter and work harder than the average person.”  Today she’s thankful for the multitude of technology that’s come along in recent years.  She’s grateful for her Omnipod insulin pump and Dexcom CGM.  “I gave myself insulin shots and checked my blood sugars with finger pokes until I was in college.”

Despite the incredible diabetes management technology and a knowledgeable multidisciplinary care team available to her, Lisa understands that her diabetes success is ultimately her responsibility.  “They can provide all of the tools and resources but it’s ultimately up to me to change my behavior and take action.”

She inherited the love of the outdoors from her father

Lisa is a prime example of living her best life with type 1 diabetes.  “If you have T1D you can do anything you want,” she said. “You can grow up to have children and a successful career.”

She makes sure to always be prepared with a snack, keep a positive attitude, and maintain regular contact with her care team.  “And always ask for help when you need it.  I still ask for help after 36 years!” 

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