Carb DM would not be the community that it is without the hard work and support of our volunteers. Many of our events require a lot of manpower; fortunately, there are many in the community who are willing and able to step up and help. Our volunteers put in many hours of effort to plan, set up, and run our events. We have started a Meet Our Volunteers blog post series to introduce readers to our volunteers. It’s our small way of recognizing them and showing our appreciation! Today’s featured volunteer is our Santa Cruz Beer & Basals host, Michelle Luedtke.
Remember when type 1 diabetes used to be called juvenile diabetes? Even though the majority of patients diagnosed are children (hence the former name), we now know that it is possible to develop type 1 diabetes later in life. In fact (since kids do grow up!), the majority of people living with type 1 diabetes (85%) are adults! Children with type 1 diabetes look to their parents for support, but adults with type 1 diabetes, especially those diagnosed as adults, may not have that kind of built-in support system. That’s why Carb DM started the Beer & Basals program: so that adults living with T1D can expand their circle of support.
Santa Cruz resident Michelle Luedtke is one of those adults. Meeting Carb DM founder Tamar Sofer-Geri soon after her diagnosis in 2012 proved to be a turning point for Michelle. As she puts it, “[Tamar] talked me off a cliff and connected me to resources and people who helped me cope and ultimately thrive with my diagnosis.”
Michelle attended Type 1 Topics as well as Beer & Basals events in Palo Alto, but wished for something more local. Beer & Basals meetups are held around the Bay Area several times a month. However, the Bay Area is a big place, and rush hour traffic can be brutal! Michelle discovered that the resources for people with type 1 diabetes in Santa Cruz were lacking, if not outright non-existent. She says, “While I had the resources and support to attend programs over the hill, I wanted to connect with T1Ds close to me“.
Michelle decided to do something about it. She worked with her local endocrinologist, local CDE (certified diabetes educator), and Tamar. By this time, Michelle was a new mom, so she also brought in Brooke Gibson of Type 1 Diabetic Sugar Mommas. Together, they were able to establish and extend the resources of the Bay Area T1D community, over the hill and into Santa Cruz. The Santa Cruz T1D Beer & Basals group first met in December of 2016, with Michelle as the group’s host. They have been meeting ever since.
As Beer & Basals host, Michelle sets the date and time for each meetup, and arranges a venue. She sends out notices to regular attendees. She spreads the word to new attendees via flyers and recommendations through her endocrinologist. Michelle also attends and facilitates the 2-hour meetings.
Michelle’s 3.5 year-old and 3 month-old keep her busy, but she makes time for Beer & Basals because it has become more than just a support group for her. As she puts it, “One of the fun things is that the core group of attendees have been coming for over a year. At this point, a lot of the “diabetes” talk goes by the wayside, and it has become more about friendship and community. It feels good to be a part of that.”
Michelle adds, “I think T1s that are looking for community. It’s not necessarily “support” so much as good conversation with folks that understand the boat they are in. There’s no need to explain what a bolus is, or how a high or low feels when talking about your experiences. You are with people that get you and there’s comfort in that. Not to mention, the wealth of new information, tips, tricks, and diabetes hacks. All of these can make life a little bit easier.”
Thank you Michelle for being a B&B host to the Santa Cruz T1D community! Because of you and other Beer & Basals hosts, adults with T1D in the San Francisco, East Bay, Peninsula, South Bay, and Santa Cruz area don’t have far to go for conversation and camaraderie.