Rachel Zucker-Wong, a diabetes nurse practitioner from San Francisco, CA, is a mission nurse. Not solely is she a second-career nurse—she left an unfulfilling profession in communications to pursue nursing—however she’s additionally working to share her journey as a nurse with kind 1 diabetes and share consciousness alongside the way in which. road.
Rachel, who runs @t1diabeezy, an Instagram account devoted to sharing her journey with diabetes and now, as a diabetes educator, tells Nurse.org that working with individuals with diabetes is her “true calling.” And now she, as a freshly graduated RN, she’s making it occur.
Dealing with diabetes and dream of changing into a nurse
After being recognized with kind 1 diabetes at simply 4 years outdated (her mom insisted she get examined regardless of medical doctors assuring her nothing was fallacious), Rachel explains she by no means felt a powerful reference to the diabetic group, partly as a result of she by no means knew a time when she did not have diabetes and partly as a result of she was by no means handled in another way from her friends. Actually, she did not even know there was a diabetes group.
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“I actually cannot bear in mind a time the place I did not must examine my blood sugar earlier than consuming or carry a field of juice with me after I left the home,” says Rachel. “For me, diabetes has at all times been part of my regular every day life, and rising up I used to be raised by no means to really feel completely different from any of the opposite non-diabetic children at my faculty.”
Regardless of her early and considerably constructive diabetes administration, including a steady glucose monitor (CGM) to her diabetes administration sparked a want to attach with others utilizing the expertise. “I got here throughout a few individuals on Instagram who shared residing with diabetes and I made a decision to create my very own diabetes-focused Instagram account,” she explains. “I rapidly found that there’s a big and thriving group of individuals with diabetes on social media.”
Her perception into the diabetes group on social media has helped her join with others domestically who’ve kind 1 diabetes, attend meetups, and even volunteer with native diabetes organizations all through the Bay Space. “I rapidly discovered that these conferences and occasions stuffed me with power and enthusiasm, and I knew that working with individuals with diabetes was my true calling,” says Rachel.
She determined she needed to assist others who even have her situation, which entails sharing her story and journey with diabetes. “There’s one thing about speaking to individuals who actually ‘get it,’” she factors out. “It actually makes you are feeling seen and heard.”
A second likelihood
To satisfy her dream of serving to others with kind 1 diabetes, Rachel determined it was time to return to high school. After graduating from the Dominican College of California with a level in communications and media research and dealing her method as much as a director of communications at a nationwide legislation agency, Rachel was profitable, however sad.
So she determined to do one thing drastic about it: She stop her job on the spot in June 2020 throughout a world pandemic with nothing deliberate. “I had no thought what to do subsequent, however I knew I needed to make a change,” she remembers.
After taking a while off to do some soul looking out – one thing she provides that she feels “extraordinarily fortunate” to have had the prospect to do – she realized that after a lifetime spent entwined inside the system well being care and coming to discover a reference to the sort 1 diabetes group, it was time to get even deeper into the world of diabetes care.
“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that the unrelenting nature of the t1d has made me who I’m in the present day: compassionate, accountable, and in a position to decide myself up after I fall,” she explains. “It additionally impressed my life mission to assist others with diabetes.”
She made the choice to return to high school to develop into an RN and enrolled in an accelerated program to earn her BSN in simply 12 months. Rachel jokes that whereas she usually says managing her diabetes is her “first full-time job,” going by way of a rigorous 1-year accelerated BSN program rapidly grew to become her second.
Luckily, because of her primarily on-line instructional programs, Rachel did not must concentrate on additional issues for her diabetes till she hit her medical rotations. Whereas she admits she had some issues about lengthy days and practicalities like the place she might retailer snacks and provides, since diabetes is an ADA protected incapacity, she registered together with her faculty’s workplace of incapacity companies to be sure that any additional wants he had could possibly be met.
She additionally took additional steps to speak together with her medical instructors, letting them know upfront that she was diabetic and could be bringing further provides together with her. She additionally notified the nurse she labored with and her fellow college students, and he or she was carrying each a medical alert bracelet and a nurse’s backpack that contained glucose tablets and snacks. And as a final preventative step, she set her insulin pump into “train mode” to assist maintain blood sugar ranges a little bit larger and assist stop hypoglycemia.
Discover work as a diabetes nurse
All of Rachel’s onerous work is lastly beginning to repay – she simply secured her first RN job working with diabetic sufferers as a Diabetes Nurse Specialist. She has taken the identical method to her new position as she did in class by informing all of her new colleagues of her situation and being proactive in holding snacks and provides for her. “It is surreal to assume that I’ll begin my profession within the area that I went to in nursing faculty,” Rachel feedback. “I’m so grateful for this unbelievable alternative.”
The chance can be an vital first step towards her final aim of changing into a Licensed Diabetes Care and Training Specialist (CDCES). “A diabetes educator is precisely what it feels like: knowledgeable licensed to show individuals with diabetes the way to greatest handle their situation,” Rachel explains.
A part of Rachel’s ardour for changing into a CDCES is that she is aware of firsthand how extremely complicated and particular person kind 1 diabetes is. She explains that simply residing with the situation requires renewed power and resilience each single day. And with greater than 42 various factors influencing blood sugar — from sleep high quality to hormones, kind of carbohydrates, dehydration, timing of medicines, to alcohol consumption — he says even when two individuals with diabetes ate similar meals with the identical insulins and the identical beginning blood sugar ranges, might find yourself with fully completely different outcomes.
Dwelling with a situation like diabetes takes unbelievable endurance and understanding that it’s one thing that can have to be managed each single day. Rachel says she “jumps” on the alternative to coach others about diabetes and he or she hopes to share not solely her private expertise of hers with the situation, but in addition her skilled information of hers as a nurse sooner or later.
“I hope that having kind 1 diabetes permits me to be a extra empathetic nurse to my sufferers with diabetes,” she notes. “I dwell with the ups and downs of kind 1 diabetes on daily basis and know firsthand how overwhelming the situation may be. However I additionally know that having a assist system could make an enormous distinction, and I wish to assist others dwell their greatest lives with diabetes, particularly those that have not been afforded the identical privileges as me.”
She is keen about residing her greatest life with kind 1 diabetes and hopes to assist others do the identical.
“Sufferers with diabetes are true warriors,” she says. “And everybody is ready to dwell a full, wholesome life with diabetes.”
Photos courtesy of Rachel Zucker-Wong