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HOLLY: Hello, my name is Holly Sullivan. I will be interviewing you today. It is October 15th, 2009 for my Oral History Project. This project is to add your voice to the historical record about life in Kentucky. We want to record how people who may be living with a disabling or limiting condition in Kentucky experience life. Everyone who participates in this interview process will be digitally recorded word for word. Then the recording will be transcribed and stored at the Kentucky Oral History Commission in Frankfort. Members of the general public will then have access to what you and everyone else who is participating has to say about how they live their lives. This interview should take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour and at if any point you do not feel comfortable answering any question, that is perfectly okay. Are you ready to begin?


HOLLY: What is your name?


ANDREA: Andrea Curtis

HOLLY: And How old are you?

ANDREA: Uh 38.

HOLLY: Where do you live now?

ANDREA: I live in Richmond, Kentucky.

HOLLY: And do you consider yourself disabled?

ANDREA: Um, I did not until about 3 years ago until I decided to go back to college. Umm but since then, I've kinda come to the realization that I am and it helps me financially to be already what my body already tells me I am. I'm over it.

HOLLY: Okay. And uh what kind of condition do you have that limits your participation in society?

ANDREA: Well um I'm diabetic but Type 1. So I've been diabetic since I was a child, and I have kind of lost sensitivity to what's going on with my body as far as the blood sugars.

HOLLY: Like the physiological, like what you're feeling you just

ANDREA: Uh huh, like some people get light headed when their blood sugars get 2:00too low, and I don't really get that anymore because I've been diabetic so long and I wear these little contraptions and stuff that umm.

HOLLY: Okay. And umm how long did you say you have been effected by this condition did you say? Since you were a child?

ANDREA: Yeah, so, let's see. 27 years?

HOLLY: Okay, alright. And umm tell me a little about yourself in general. You know your personality, and umm, you know what you do right now to fill your time

ANDREA: Oh, my pump is beeping right now in fact. But um, I am a student um full-time, and I was in the workforce in the medical field and realized that changing shifts all the time and the physical labor and the stress that I was going through, I didn't really feel like doing that another 30 years so I uh decided to switch and it was time to change careers. And um I decided that I 3:00wanted to up my education so now I'm going for a Master's degree in Occupational Therapy.

HOLLY: And, um what did you do before?

ANDREA: I did x-ray and CAT scans, it was usually in trauma situations, and third-shifts in hospitals. And you know, trauma hospitals and


ANDREA: traveling for up to like 6 weeks to per place you know..

HOLLY: Okay alright. Umm and I think the rest of this interview is going to kind of follow in sequential order, starting with your childhood and moving forward until now. And um, my first question is, what are your earliest memories of having this disability?

ANDREA: I remember the day I was diagnosed, I felt really bad and um I ended up in the hospital with my mom, dad, myself, and my parents were divorced. And I remember I looked at my mom who was in the medical field and she was upset so 4:00she wouldn't really say anything. And then, uh I looked at my dad and uh he was just bewildered. And I just sat there and I started crying. And my mom was like uh no, no tears, what are you doing? And I looked at my dad and I go, I can't be a pilot! And my dad looks at me and goes, you're a girl! You can't be a pilot anyways in the military! And I was like, uh fine! So that was my earliest memory of having it. And of course my doctor thought it was hilarious because he told me that you know I might not be able to be a pilot, but I can drive and do other stuff, and

HOLLY: Yeah. Well that's good. Um, what memories do you have of being looked after or cared for when you were very young? And which caregivers were you the closest to when you were very young? Would you considerLike you said your parents you were with your parents but

ANDREA: Well, I was diagnosed when I was 11 so I wasn't really like a little 5:00child, but I was like really sick for about 2 and a half years, like I was in the hospital for most of the 2 and a half years when this first began. So I uh became closest to my doctor. And I am still close with him to this day.

HOLLY: Okay.

ANDREA: He is living in Texas, so he is quite a distance from here, but we uh still remain in contact.

HOLLY: Good. So do you still seek medical advice from him, or?

ANDREA: He's not my physician anymore, but ya know, he'll get on me about certain things. He was, he was so excited when I told him I decided to go back to school, he was like, ohhh it's about time!

HOLLY: Yeah, yeah

ANDREA: Yeah so he's just kind of a good sounding board, and more of a family friend.

HOLLY: Good, good! Okay, so where that leads me to my next point, umm. Where is your doctor now, or do you like regularly go see the doctor? Like

ANDREA: Uh huh, I go about every 3 months and I go to a doctor in Lexington who 6:00I kinda hand-chose because he is kinda up on the technology that we're using. You know, it's not like I'm an older diabetic where I just need to check my blood sugar. No, I wear a pump that beeps in the middle of the night that beeps all the time. When my blood sugar goes out of a certain range. And so it's really neat, and I download stuff to my doctor

HOLLY: Oh ok! From the pump?



ANDREA: Yeah, and so that's one of the reasons I chose to take him because he kind of techno logically advanced and it'll help me in the long run

HOLLY: So if it your blood sugar doesn't stay within a certain range then what do you do?

ANDREA: Um well because I wear a sensor, then my pump beeps. So then I know when to eat something and when I need to take insulin or stop my insulin. I need the pump because I have lost that sensitivity to when my insulin is high or low. Um when people are first diagnosed, they can tell when their blood sugar is high or low because they feel bad, and they figure our why what caused that. But yeah, 7:00I've kind of lost that.

HOLLY: Okay alright. I totally understand. Um, so what other people, going back to your childhood, uh what other people did you share your home with growing up?

ANDREA: Um, well, I had a lot of aunts who lived in and out at different times. Um, my parents were military and divorced so I think most of their families were in the mid-west and south, so we always had people at our house.


ANDREA: So, there was always an aunt staying with us for 6 months or, or someone else who was really close with us.

HOLLY: So you really enjoyed that then? Everyone being around?

ANDREA: Yeah, I liked it.

HOLLY: And you guys all got along for the most part then? You and all your family members like your aunts and the other people coming in?

ANDREA: Yeah, they um nomy parents really had a bad divorce, which I never have known of any divorce that's not bad, but it's a little stressful with that and uh



ANDREA: And um, but as we all got used to it and figured out what we were all doing, we I kinda realized that my mom was more of the medical person and my dad was more about holidays and fun, and you know I spent a lot of time with him, but things were more about activities and sports, and going to a big football game and sports. And my mom was always like, what's your blood sugar, what are you doing?

HOLLY: So who, were they really supportive of your disability or were they very helpful when it came to your

ANDREA: My mom was very helpful. She was the one who knew I was diabetic even before any blood work or anything.


ANDREA: She said, you smell weird, something's going on, that's it, and we're goin' to the doctor. And I was like, what is she talking about? She's just mean But no she was really supportive. But my dad didn't really think about my blood sugars and I think he would get a little nervous about it. So they put me in charge right away. And being 11, it wasn't like I was 3 or 4, they said, you do 9:00all the injections, you do everything. You write down everything. All the phone numbers, and my mom made sure I was kind of doing sort of what I should be doing, uh, until I reached being a teenager and I was sort of rebelling..

HOLLY: Yeah, yeah

ANDREA: But my mom really kept tabs on me, but my dad didn't concentrate on it so much but I was usually with him for weekend or something like that so I picked up more of the responsibility when I was with my dad.

HOLLY: Okay alright. What age would you say you kind of picked up the responsibility yourself? Like

ANDREA: Right at 11, my mom being a nurse was like, well here ya go

HOLLY: You might as well start now type thing


HOLLY: yeah, ok so your pretty much overall said you had a strong support system if you needed anything.

ANDREA: Yeah I um, I can remember being in high school and we had to go on a 10:00camping trip in order to graduate, this was camping trip where you didn't eat. We drink water, but we were out in the desert for three days and they automatically looked at me and said, oh well you don't have to go. And my mother looked at them, and said why not? You're going. Start packing, you're going! So she sat down with my doctor and they figured out how I was going to go. And of course I took food with me. But my mom was not letting me get out of anything.


ANDREA: Which I'm glad about now

HOLLY: It's like tough-love, yeah okay. And what other family members did you interact in your early life that were outside of your home? Other than the people that would come and live with you guys for a couple months

ANDREA: I had an aunt that was married and had 3 kids that was really close with me. And she wasn't scared of medical things, but she really didn't understand 11:00them, so she started putting them in more common, straight language like "What are you doing, quit acting stupid" you know

HOLLY: Yeah, very straight-forward

ANDREA: Yeah, and very straight forward and my uncle would automatically faint when he would walk in the room and I was doing an injection. So between the two of them, they sort of brought it down to a regular level compared to my mom using medical jargon.

HOLLY: So you used to inject insulin?

ANDREA: Yeah, I used to twice a day

HOLLY: When your insulin got low?

ANDREA: No you inject insulin in order to cover your food normally. When you get low, you would eat less. Oh no, it's okay. It's easy to get confused.

HOLLY: Yeah, because I was like whenever I think of diabetes sometimes I get the two backwards sometimes but anyways. So then, what was your school like in your early years? How did you manage your up and down swings of insulin when you were 12:00at school?

ANDREA: Um, again, my mom didn't even blink. I didn't think it was weird. I just did it. I didn't really have a choice. I can remember, speaking to diabetics now, I've talked to them and some of them will say, oh well I didn't take dance, or didn't go here or I didn't go there. And I'm like really? That's weird to me. I did everything kids did, or wanted to do. I just um, usually had food on me and you know

HOLLY: Yeah as a precaution that was smart And what did you consider the most difficult part of school? Growing up, whether it would have to be something to do with your condition or not I mean

ANDREA: Uh, Well! Everyone kind of knew me because some teachers would be a 13:00little nervous about it. They would be like, are you okay, really quietly you know

HOLLY: Did it make you feel different at all? Or

ANDREA: It made me feel different, and not all of my teachers did that, and it wasn't like them trying to be mean to me, but everyone else damn well knew who I was and what I was doing. you know. It's not like I could have hided it or anything, so

HOLLY: Uh huh. So I mean, like your friends, they pretty much like accepted it?

ANDREA: Oh yea, my friends were great. And my friends were even like really helpful and I can remember this one time they wanted to do something. They all wanted to try surfing. And I didn't know how to surf. So this was going to be a big deal, and I um I can remember one of my friends sat down beside me and said how many times have you been surfing and I was like, never. And he goes what was your blood sugar the last time you went surfing? And I was like, well I've never been surfing, and he was like well why don't you test it so we know what it is now.


ANDREA: and I was like ok, fine

HOLLY: So your friends were probably your most enjoyable part of school then? 14:00Would you consider?

ANDREA: Yeah. Well I liked doing theatre and dance and all of that kind of stuff. Never, it never kind of bothered me before um if I needed to get something to eat, or change something, or sit down for a minute, none of my teachers would mind.

HOLLY: Ok. Alright. And let's see. What was your play like when you were growing up besides your dancing and your sports, and things like that at school. What did you do outside of school that you considered your play that you enjoyed the most?

ANDREA: Well one of the main things I did, I know we talked about sports at one point, but I really snow skied a lot. I mean


ANDREA: I got to the point where I like raced on skis, I like had a racing 15:00number and everything, and that was a big change for me. Because I did that before I was diabetic, I did it afterwards as well

HOLLY: Okay uh huh

ANDREA: It was, it was a really big change. It didn't, it just didn't groove well. It wasn't the reason I quit racing, but it was


ANDREA: It was kind of a big deal and now that I'm looking back on it, I can realize that maybe that was really why I quit.

HOLLY: Okay, alright. So, um where would you go to do this snow skiing?

ANDREA: The Tahoe. It was about 3 hours away from my dad's

HOLLY: And um, would you consider did you play a lot as a kid? Like would you consider being outside and um playing like with your friends and stuff a lot?

ANDREA: Well we did swimming a lot. We were in the pool for like 24/7. If we 16:00were in the pool, we were actually like on a team or something. When we were little, we didn't, well, I guess we did do a lot of tag and stuff like that.

HOLLY: Yeah.

ANDREA: Now that I think about it

HOLLY: And, where did you go to middle school or junior high?

ANDREA: I didn't go to middle school because I went to a catholic school. We had 1 through 8, and then to high school.

HOLLY: Ok. Alright. And you said it was a catholic school. And what did you actually like or dislike about the school itself?

ANDREA: Well actually, catholic school my, my grade school was catholic and it was probably about 30 people per class. So you got to know each other, and that's when I was really sick. I have to say that because of those nuns and because of those teachers I made it through without having to go back and 17:00restart. They actually came to the hospital and taught me and stuff.

HOLLY: So you were at the hospital for a while?

ANDREA: Yeah, I was there for 2 years

HOLLY: Oh, like permanently?

ANDREA: No, well not really. I would go the school in the morning, and come back to the hospital in the afternoon.


ANDREA: SO I was um, well, because of something else, and the diabetes made it 10 times worse, so in order to keep it they really came through and really helped me so I wouldn't be held back a year at school.

HOLLY: Oh, ok. Well that was really nice. I don't know that teachers do that anymore.

ANDREA: Yea, I don't know that that would happen It was really nice.

HOLLY: So, what did you like or dislike about you high school?

ANDREA: Um, I went to 2 different high schools and I was kind of upset because the high school that I wanted to go to, that I did go to my Freshman year, um 18:00wasn't working out. Um, I was learning everything but education things. I was learning all kinds of things, so my mom brought me home and sent me to a hippie school and I was very upset. So I showed up on the very first day when they were having march for the rainforest. And as a military child, and taking insulin all the time, you know injections and everything else, I thought this would not go over well. But actually, I love it. After I got to know everyone and the school and settled and everything, they were flexible and I really liked it. They worked with me, and I ended up really loving it, so

HOLLY: Great So was this a bigger school or was this a small

ANDREA: There were about 280 kids for the whole school.

HOLLY: Okay. That was 9th-12th then?


HOLLY: Okay, and was this in your hometown?


ANDREA: It was about 20 miles away from my hometown.

HOLLY: And where was your hometown at again?

ANDREA: It was a little tiny military base underneath the Golden Gate bridge called Fort Baker, so um, not very many people lived there, and there was nothing there. If you didn't drive, you didn't go anywhere. But it was beautiful

HOLLY: Yeah. Oh yeah, I can imagine. Uh what kind of things did you like to do in high school? Like in school and outside of school?

ANDREA: Well I played volleyball and basketball, and um I snowed skied during the winter, and when I was healthy. There was a couple years in there where I wasn't. And I danced, and I um, babysat a lot.

HOLLY: Yeah, so did I that seems like it'd be the perfect little job for 20:00highschoolers, so , easy money and

ANDREA: Yeah coming from a military family in San Francisco, everybody would go out all the time.

HOLLY: Oh yeah, I am sure. I am sure . So you already talked about you activities and interests, so how would you overall describe your later school years? Were they all enjoyable, or do you look back and sometimes think awe well I wish I would have done that, um you know.

ANDREA: When I went to college for the first time, this is my second time through, , when I went to college the first time it was very difficult for me. Everybody's turning 21 and everybody's drinking all the time, and there's opportunities to do drugs, just everything but taking care of yourself. So that was very difficult for me the first time through. And I can look at it now, and see that it affected my college performance, grades. I mean, besides me not 21:00spending as much time as I needed to studying, but the fact that I really wasn't taking good care of myself showed.

HOLLY: As far as your diabetes?


HOLLY: It's hard for a kid to understand the whole you know diabetic way of living you know, it's hard. It's a learning process.

ANDREA: The doctor that I am so close to, um, he was a friend of the family, so he was not my physician at that point, but he called and said how many shots of insulin do you take per shot of tequila? And I said, I don't know. And we really did have internet back then and he told me find out and call him back. And I was like, he's so silly. You never know what he's doing, but really that made me learn about what types of food and what I was going to do in different situations that I'd never thought of before.

HOLLY: So in social situations when you would go out with your friends, and you 22:00would go out and you know take shots of tequila or eating pizza or candy and things like that, and when your insulin would you just continue to eat and drink? Is that as far as what you were talking about with taking care of yourself as far as certain pressures?

ANDREA: Well first of all, you gain weight when you go to college. And I gained a lot of weight. We're talking 50 pounds. So I gained a lot of weight and plus I was not covering everything I was eating with insulin. So I was taking alcohol and I was eating candy, and I was doing all these things and I was not I didn't have the technology to help me like I do today. And I just kind of avoided it, so I didn't work as hard in the scholastic area, and it showed up, with the 23:00medical problems. Going out and being 19 and not studying, you put the two together, it made me kind of go in a different direction for a while.


ANDREA: And I ended up working for a while after and I ended up putting myself through x-ray school, but it's not a college degree.

HOLLY: Okay. Was it a trade school?

ANDREA: Well I got an associate's degree, because I pushed for it, not because of the school I went to. So it's, there's a lot of education along with that, and a lot of responsibility, but there's not a lot of esteem. Not a lot of respect. Like, oh you're a college graduate, yeah I'm an associate's degree grad.

HOLLY: Yeah, yeah. And I think that's getting worse today. You know there's so 24:00much pressure on us to at least get our bachelor's, and even then so many jobs then require your master's. So, I totally understand that


HOLLY: So what were your healthcare routines as far are your doctor's appointments and your health in the home through your adolescence and high school years? What do you remember about your routines? Going to the doctor, as you've already said there was much of a routine necessarily set up that you stuck to strictly

ANDREA: There was a routine when I was a child and when I was in high school.

HOLLY: Right

ANDREA: The older I got, the further I got from a routine. The technology was I mean not what it is now. I mean, we had very few things to even test blood sugars. When I first became diabetic, the only thing they had was test strips.

HOLLY: Oh wow.

ANDREA: So no blood sugar machines or anything, then right after I was 25:00diagnosed, they got the first machine, what they call a gluco-meter. It's a machine that tests your blood sugar. Now it's a teeny-tiny machine, but back then it was about the size of this pillow and it was probably 4 inches thick.

HOLLY: Oh wow.

ANDREA: And I would have to drag that around with me. It was a whole long intricate process, it took about 5 minutes to do.

HOLLY: What year was this would you say?

ANDREA: I was diagnosed in '82, so in '82 or '83 it was really complicated and it took a long time, but at that point, I had been a whole lot better off than some other people with diabetes at the time, so I don't know technology keeps things better and

HOLLY: Oh yeah, I mean diabetes is such a prevalent issue these days I just have a feeling the treatment options are just going to keep getting better and better.


ANDREA: There's a whole political thing with that too.

HOLLY: Oh really?

ANDREA: Well yeah, because they'd lose money off of that. Pharmaceutical companies and a lot of different individuals, so yeah there should be a cure we'd think, when and if okay. even if I believe they have one now, then it still kind of relates to whether or not people are going to let that happen because companies are making so much money off of it. All the blood sugar strips, all of the uh meters, the pumps, everything that they're doing is making money

HOLLY: All the foods

ANDREA: Billions of dollars, and the food but um truthfully I think that they've pretty much solved it. When the FDA will approve that, we'll see But you know countries that have different ethics have a better grip on doing this 27:00experimentation. China's been doing these experiments, and they've pretty much solved it. With one injection.

HOLLY: Oh wow.

ANDREA: That you have to get within 5 years, but most people you ask don't care about that because it doesn't make any money

HOLLY: Yeah, it's taking away a lot of money from

ANDREA: Well, and they also don't know all the risks and that sort of thing, so the FDA has to do their job and I understand that but it kinda

HOLLY: Yeah, so you're sitting here like "Ah I wish I could get that injection" right?

ANDREA: Well, the other thing is

HOLLY: Kind just make a couple little things easier

ANDREA: It would definitely make things easier and I'm also like I might want a kid and not being diabetic would be really helpful in getting pregnant and in deciding to get pregnant. So

HOLLY: So, as far as that goes, because I don't know much about the effects of 28:00diabetes on pregnancy, but what have you heard as far as that goes?

ANDREA: Well, the male is more prevalent in passing on the diabetes to the child than the female. But if this is a genetic disorder, so you always have the risk of passing on the gene and now when I was first diagnosed, I was the first one in my family. Now I am one out of I would say 10

HOLLY: Oh really? So a lot of people are starting to

ANDREA: Yeah, they're Type II diabetics. They're showing it later in life.

HOLLY: But it's still that gene and it's kind of popping out that you've noticed?


HOLLY: So, you're the first one with Type I then?

ANDREA: Yeah, but there are a lot of Type II's

HOLLY: Alrightso pretty much with Type II, its still the same in that you have 29:00to monitor what you eat, so in some ways you can get help from the family members that have it

ANDREA: Well, they all always call me because I had it first, so they'll call me and be like, how do I deal with this? Or how do I deal with that? So I just tell them what, uh, I think that they should do, or what I think I should have done in that situation. The information that I know, I try not to pass judgment because no one's perfect and I certainly did not do absolutely everything right early in life soI'm trying to now, but

HOLLY: So as far as just your monitoring are you just on medications then for the diabetes as well?


HOLLY: Okay. Um so what kind of work or volunteer experiences did you take part 30:00in, in your high school years? You already mentioned you know babysitting a lot, but did you hold any other jobs outside of high school?

ANDREA: Yeah, I always worked. From the time I was 12. So I was working from doing dishes in a yacht club and then I was working selling jeans, I can't really remember the brand, but it was kinda like how Abercrombie is now. It was, was a nice store, but it wasn't as nice as what Abercrombie is now, as high ranked as that. But it was nice jeans. So And then um, I'm trying to think of what I did laterIn college I started working for Lane Bryant.

HOLLY: Um, and so, what did you do with like your paycheck? Did you have to pay 31:00for things mainly on your own growing up? Or did your parents instill that responsibility of saving up? Or

ANDREA: Well they we've actually talked about it once, but my mom says that I was spoiled because we were in the military, so I didn't have to pay for medical expenses which is a big expense to me now. So I, you know, didn't see that back then. She just wanted to treat me as normal as she could and um yeah, sometime I would uh help them money-wise. You know, I would get in trouble and they would make me pay rent for a month or something. You know, but it was never it was never like, it was basically like every other kid would be like. Um but I kinda wish I would have had some more responsibility with money issues when I was in 32:00college, or maybe late high school

HOLLY: Just to kind of learn

ANDREA: Just to kind of learn a little more, but um I was still under the military medical insurance at that time. So it probably would have been a little less difficult, but now, it's a major issue.

HOLLY: Yeah. Oh yeah. Like a lot of us right now. I mean, health insurance is a major issue for most people with disabilities these days. So it's a major issue

ANDREA: I know I am currently trying to go through the social security and uh Medicaid and all that kind of stuff and uh I keep getting turned down for all of it. It's an ongoing process, you know. I will eventually get it, but I'm not going to need it for the rest of my life, I just need it in school. You know? I'm just between a rock and a hard place and a crack in the medical system. And that's unfortunately where I am right now, so

HOLLY: Yeah but as you said though, you'll get out of it so It just takes a 33:00little time.


HOLLY: So moving into your adulthood, I want to kind of, I mean I know we've touched on your education as far as your first round of college, but I want to kind of get more in depth with that. Um, specifically, what formal education did you take part in, um after high school? What kind of school would you call that where you went for your radiology to be an x-ray technician?

ANDREA: Well, first of all, I went to the University of Kentucky and I went there for two and a half years. But I kept switching majors and was having too much fun not taking care of myself and also not studying as much as I should have. Um, I decided to do manual labor for about a year, planting flowers. I planted for an industrial group and we would go to like, I don't know, hospitals 34:00and plant all the flowers that were in front of them.

HOLLY: Oh, okay!

ANDREA: And while that seems like a great job, when it was nasty, cold, and rainy, and you're the only girl out of 500 men, it's not that much fun. So I quickly realized that I still wanted to get some type of education. Um, so I decided that I, well, my mom laid a lot of pressure on me to volunteer for the local catholic hospital with my time. Well, come to find out, that was St. Joseph in Lexington in the x-ray program.

HOLLY: Okay.

ANDREA: So somehow, I don't know if she had anything to do with it, but I ended up in the x-ray department as a full-time volunteer. Then I got hired full-time in that department for a year, and then I went to school there.

HOLLY: Oh well that was nice. It was like bam bam bam, everything all happened in the same year?

ANDREA: Yeah, it took them a while. I mean, I worked for them for a year, and 35:00then I applied I mean I got the job, I worked for a year, and then I applied for the next year. So really within 3 years I was moved from being industrial planning to x-ray technician and having my license and everything. So

HOLLY: So that physical labor as far as, you know, I don't know exactly what you did as far as volunteering for a year and then working for a year at St. Joseph's but um, and then working out planting flowers, I mean how did that effect your diabetes because I personally know a couple diabetics and doing strenuous I mean, you just kept food on you then?

ANDREA: Yeah, I kept sugar tablets on me, but truthfully I did not have the pump that I have now. So I always aimed at my blood sugar being a little high. You're 36:00not sounding like you're drunk or looking like you're drunk, you're not having those reactions but keeping it high also affects your vision and your circulation and all those things that happen later in life or if you leave it really high. So mine would always be a little high, but not that fine tune. And then as technology came along, we started getting pumps with sensors and all that kind of stuff, you fine tune it and there's a blood test called an A1C and it gives you the average of the past 6 weeks. I can say oh God I'm embarrassed my face is turning red, that when I was in college I think there was an A1C somewhere around 9 which is really high. And now my A1C is probably around 6.1.

HOLLY: Really?

ANDREA: Yeah, somewhere in there That doesn't sound like a big numerical difference, but it a big

HOLLY: But it's huge in relation to that


ANDREA: It's huge for vision and all those things that you think of when you look at older diabetics, and you think, oh my God. Because they're having vision problems, they can't see anything, they

HOLLY: So those are all from previous problems that haven't been treated?

ANDREA: Yeah, they're all because they didn't have the technology and/or they didn't care about it enough to keep their blood sugars in a small range.

HOLLY: Okay. So, um, you have this under control and everything now? Right?

ANDREA: I mean, I have the technology to help me. I have it under really good control but I'm till not prefect.

HOLLY: Oh no, nobody is! Um so how would you say that you know going through you know UK and then going through all your different jobs, how would you say that effected you now. You know all those experiences.

ANDREA: Um, I can remember I was taking x-rays at UofL at, it was in the middle 38:00of a gang fight and one person was doing x-rays like right in the doorway of the emergency room. And then we got that person to the OR, and we were doing the next person and I can remember it was like a never ending battle. It was constant, and I can remember like my blood sugar felt like it was going low and I didn't do anything inappropriately but I can remember I, I felt like I was sort of dropping. Not fainting or anything, but getting ready to. I just felt like I was dropping really fast, my blood sugar was. And I can remember standing in the middle and eating pure sugar and someone looked at me and said, you have gloves on and you're eating. What are you doing? And I was like oh yea! I'm gonna take that glove off because I'm eating!

HOLLY: Oh no!

ANDREA: So I I mean they did not have blood on them or anything bad so but you know it was the fact of I needed to do both at once and no one else did. They 39:00could deal with the stressful situations and I kind of had to keep it in the back of my mind what my blood sugar was and what was going on. Now, I kind of still forget about it a little bit, but then it will beep and tell you.

HOLLY: Yeah. Yeah.

ANDREA: So it's really nice, but that was me working all the different shifts in the high trauma kind of got to me after a while. I just couldn't balance all very well. And being a diabetic for a longer period of time, I got less sensitive. So I was just like, okay! This is not going uh very perfectly. This needs to be re-evaluated.

HOLLY: Okay. So those experiences basically have led you to come back to school again and

ANDREA: Well I always wanted to do school but um it has kind of pushed me in that direction. It was like okay, I don't need to go down and do more manual labor, I need to go up and do more education and do something that I really enjoy

HOLLY: A low-key job and something that you enjoy


ANDREA: Well, not necessarily low key because then I think I'd be bored, but something that I could sustain over a long something like my dad calls a damn daytime job. None of this working third shift, and then working first shift, and then switching all around you need a 9 to 5 job. And, so that's one of the reasons.

HOLLY: Yeah, those other jobs are only cut out for certain people that can work them over a lifetime and they're just very, very strenuous. Especially when you're having to train your body all these different times to eat and like you know all these different shifts. I mean, that has got to be hard. Or it had to be

ANDREA: Yeah, it was hard but

HOLLY: You got used to it

ANDREA: I got used to it, but I just got this point where everything just came 41:00together and I was like, okay new direction for education and work.

HOLLY: So what members of your family do you interact with in your adult life today?

ANDREA: Um, I see my mom and aunts and uncles probably once or twice a year. Uh I don't really see family that often

HOLLY: Okay. And is that because they just live far away?

ANDREA: Yeah, well um. Part of it is because they live a little distance away but really it's because of school and time constraints. And you know you if you add school with going to the doctors and then me exercising every day, all these things that everyone's supposed to be doing, but you know if you made a list, family kind of falls down on the priority list.

HOLLY: Sadly, but yes. I understand that. I don't get to see mine a lot these days either and it's really sad that school keeps you that busy but, it truly does.


ANDREA: But it'll all pay off.

HOLLY: That is true. And are you wanting to move back near, with your family when you graduate, or are you wanting to stay in this vicinity?

ANDREA: You know, I haven't even really decided and I don't think I am going to decide until I get closer to the end of my education. Because I think I'm going to look at that point and be proud of myself that I have chances. I have opportunities to go either place. I'm hoping that there will be chances either place depending on the economy, you know. But I know I'm going to have choices and that's when I'll decide.

HOLLY: Oh yeah, that's the beauty of being in your profession or anything in the medical field. You can choose where ever you want to go, you know? That's just the beauty of it. That's why I like it too. So your options you know are so open.

ANDREA: Oh yeah.

HOLLY: Um, okay so you already mentioned some of your extended family members 43:00some of your aunts I mean, you keeping in contact with them once or twice a year

ANDREA: Um actually I would say the most contact I have with one is with an uncle who is also diabetic and um has been diabetic now for probably 10-15 years and he is now having complications really bad. And he is much older, so he is having kidney problems, he is on dialysis. He is everything that scares me to death and so every time I see him, he'll sit next to me and sort of poke me in the leg and go are you doing what you are supposed to be doing? And then I'm like. ohhhhhhhhh. and then you know he goes, look at me and tell you're doing what you are supposed to be doing. And I'm like, yes sir.

HOLLY: Oh yeah. Yeah, kind of trying to keep you in line.

ANDREA: Yeah, yeah and he is very honest and very smart, and so he knows that me 44:00hearing it from my mom the whole time since I was 11 is not going to be the same thing as hearing it from him when he's on the bad side of it. So

HOLLY: Right, right And I mean, do you think that helps you to see him like that or do you think that more hurts you to see him like that? As far as seeing himin that condition?

ANDREA: It's definitely upsetting but he's very outspoken to begin with so it's not like he's singling me out to embarrass me. He's just sort of poking me in the leg going, remember you need to pay attention. So

HOLLY: Yeah. Well that's good. That's good. Sokind of switching gears here a little bit. Describe a typical day to me. How do you spend your time? And what 45:00do you want to do or need to do on more of you know a regular basis as part of your typical day?

ANDREA: Okay. Um, I would say I really try, on about 80% of most days I get up or try to get up an hour before I need to and actually get on my treadmill so I'm trying to do a little more exercise. Statistically-speaking it will help everything. It'll help stress, it'll help weight, it'll help blood sugars, it'll help everything. So I do that and then I switch my pump. I don't do it every day, I do it every third day. I have to move it around. It's a needle when you first put it in, and then you pull the needle out and it's just a little catheter. But I have to move it every 3 days to keep track of rotations and cycles so I don't have to go in the same place consistently so that my body can heal itself.

HOLLY: Oh ok. And where are these 3 injections going to? What part?


ANDREA: These usually go in my abdomen. Um, I can put them in my leg, but they usually go in the abdomen. It's just one, and this is it's just an injection with a needle and it goes in and I pull the needle out, and it's just a little catheter. And then the second thing that I do is also the sensor. So and I do that every 3 days as well. So there's two separate things.needles. And the sensor goes in and it's kind of like uh bigger than a quarter and it's hard plastic and I tape it to myself and that's what works with my pump and it beeps when I go out of range. It constantly is monitoring my blood. So when I take the time to set this up, it's every 3 days, and it's a pain, and it usually takes about 3 hours to set up computer-wise. But um, it really helps me in the 47:00long-run so I'm like oh I've got to put a sensor in tomorrow, but

HOLLY: Do you do all that mentally or do you have it on a calendar somewhere?

ANDREA: Um actually I do it mentally because both of them are every 3 days, so when it stops working, then I know okay that's the end of my 3 days. And then I have to re-boot the battery overnight which is 8 hours. So what I do is I take it off in the evening and re-boot the battery all night and then start both things again the next morning. So it's a cycle that I've gotten myself into that helps me remember.

HOLLY: Oh good.

ANDREA: Yeah, it's kind of hard not to remember if it's beeping at you, telling you it's dead. So

HOLLY: So other than switching you know your different injection sites, what's 48:00after that, like in the morning?

ANDREA: Oh well, I have to kind of be concerned with like water. Like I can't take it into the shower or anything. So I have to disconnect when I take a shower, but I can't be disconnected for too long because they sensor, they work together and they they uh give information to each other so I really have to put it on within 10 to 15 minutes. So I have to kind of pay attention and put it back before I dry my hair or before I get dressed so it's just something that you learn, but once you um get it going I don't even think about it now. But you know I have to, when you first start it and trying to explain to someone I remember, oh I have to do all these things. You do them as second nature.

HOLLY: Yeah.

ANDREA: And then when I eat I have to work with my little pump and tell it what 49:00my blood sugar is, I have to tell it what my blood sugar is. It's not like Star Trek. I tell it what my blood sugar is and then tell it how many grams of carbohydrates I'm eating. I have to be pretty good at guessing.

HOLLY: Okay. Alright, and so um, you just get up in the morning and do you have class every day? Or

ANDREA: I do have class every day and I do have to set all this stuff up in the morning because it's just the way that it works better. So I actually, every 3rd day I spend approximately an hour to an hour and a half probably just doing this e very third day. And then um, I have to calibrate it in the morning and in the evening to check my blood sugar. Uh I tend to do it when I'm doing other things 50:00like when I'm on the phone, when I'm typing It's like second nature to me. But if I actually sit down and do it, it would be like you know 5 minutes a day, every day. So you know, it's kind of like adding all those little things up.

HOLLY: So, that leads me to my next point. What's difficulties do you face in your everyday routines? Are there any parts of your routine that are just like you know, that are just like a struggle or you know are difficult for you still to this day? Or you know that frustrate you in any way? Or

ANDREA: Sometimes I really have a difficult time figuring out what's wrong with me and the best way to do that is to just talk to other diabetics. Because then I can just be like, ok, lets see. Is it my blood sugar? Do I just not give a 51:00damn? Am I you know, stressed out? What is going on because if I can sort of put it into those different avenues, then I can figure out what trigger I can deal with. And um the other things, the stress, is um going to affect the blood sugars. So I kind of have to figure out what is going on with me, and my friends are really helpful in telling me what they're going through so I can sort of, kinda you know filter it all through you know. Maybe 3 steps I should try if I'm out of whack if my blood sugar's not right, then I can say well uh you know, maybe I'll try this today and if it doesn't work, then I'll try number two tonight, and if that doesn't work then I'll go to number three in the morning. If I get to three or four, then I call my doctor.

HOLLY: Yeah, ok. Alright, and what makes your daily routine easier or more 52:00pleasurable when you know you're having these different types of difficulties. I mean you already said you talk to your friends, and you kind of like get these different options that you can do to help calm yourself down, or I mean, what other things help you?

ANDREA: Um, what I've really learned over the years is you cannot take a test if your blood sugar is not right. You're not going to get a good grade. That's just the way it works. I just really really really really concentrate especially if I have a big test because no matter how hard I study, the grades end up not the grades that I want if my blood sugar's not right. So that I pay even a little more attention to what I'm eating or even a little more attention that all my technology is going to be set for that day. So you know, I kind of just have to plan ahead and try and keep my stress down and try to have some fun. Which kind of goes by the way side, but you know.


HOLLY: Ok, so who would you consider that you socialize with? At school or outside of school or I mean you live far away from your family, but who do you socialize with today?

ANDREA: Hmm, I would say uh I have some really close friends. Um a few really close friends. Um they are very understanding about school and they have known me fore years, so the diabetes they don't even think about it anymore. But um, me being in school is a little bit more difficult for me just because of the time schedules. They're all working and they all have money and they all look at me and I'm like uh, I don't have any of those things.

HOLLY: Yeah I understand, I understand.

ANDREA: But I would say that I've noticed is um being back in school, some of 54:00the students are younger and um I'm around different types of students that like I was sitting in the cafeteria the other day and my pump started going off and this guy was sitting next to me and he was like, what is that? What is that doing? You know, he was not offensive, he was just curious because he thought it was a pager and he wanted to know what kind of pager I was wearing that was beeping like that. And he was technologically advanced so

HOLLY: Okay. Yeah ANDREA: You know, it wasn't really embarrassing, it was just funny.

HOLLY: Um so, you're pretty happy with your social life then up until this point? I mean, do you wish you had more time? And obviously we all wish we had more money to spend for social reasons, but other than that you're pretty

ANDREA: I'm glad I'm through with being 21 and I did have such a hard time with 55:00the drinking and/ or the eating sugar and not taking care of myself. I wish that I had a pump back then because I really think it would have helped so umI'm glad that people have pumps now. A lot of people have pumps. And I'm glad I've lived through that period and I don't have to live through it again.

HOLLY: Yeah, yeah definitely. You're at a good point right now


HOLLY: Um and how do you spend your free time, if you have any free time? These days, how would you consider them spent?

ANDREA: Um, I do like going to movies or uh just going out and trying to like hiking mor something local. Um I did not grow up here, but I've been here quite a while. But there's till things that I haven't done. The more people I meet 56:00here, the more I hear about the you know local stuff. And I love to go dancing.

HOLLY: And do you consider yourself to have any hobbies?

ANDREA: Um, I was kind of thinking being in school I really don't have time for it, but I was thinking the other day that somehow, I don't; know how, but I have all the family photographs. So that's kind of

HOLLY: That's good!

ANDREA: I think that's a hobby, even though I wouldn't name it. But that's my hobby.

HOLLY: So scrap booking maybe?

ANDREA: Yeah, I mean it's so old fashioned, and it takes a lot of time, but it seems like every year, more and more people in my family start sending me more and more photographs. And I'm like, what am I supposed to do with this? I live in a one bedroom apartment, but you know. Whatever


HOLLY: Well that's good though! It's a good way to look at memories and a good way to keep in contact other than just you know like voice. Um and do you have job right now while in school?

ANDREA: No actually, I worked for full-time while in x-ray school and it was really hard on me physically, emotionally, everything. So one of the ways, I even talk to my doctor, um he suggested not working because of the stress level. The program that I am in is kind of high-stress. And there are some people that work, but really not as many as what you would think expect. And it is constantly because we are always doing a lot and it's uh we're all trying to get into the graduate school so for right now, um I'm keeping my blood sugars good not working and we'll see in a year


HOLLY: Uh huhwhen you get those little break yeah and um what does the word health mean to you? How would you describe health? From your diabetes standpoint

ANDREA: Health to me is when you look at an older person and you don't cringe. It's somebody that you go wow if I can look that good and act that well and have cognition at that age, that'd be great. Now, I realize you're always looking at people and you're always thinking the grass is always greener on the other side, but um just to be able to enjoy life at an older age to enjoy life and have self 59:00respect and also to kind of take care of yourself and you can tell with a lot of those people that they are taking care of themselves for years. It's not something that's just--

HOLLY: Just given to you

ANDREA: Yeah! It's not that they just go and get face-lift and everything's all good! They're skin tone, you can tell that they kind of have an overall health. So for me, it's trying to not be so specific and try to keep an overall health.

HOLLY: Good. And, what laws or politics have effected your life and your definition of your health, or what you think is the optimal health? Like any politics that have played a role in your life thus far? If not, you know it's fine

ANDREA: Well it's a big deal right now because I'm in between crack in the healthcare system. You know, we talked about President Obama is trying to re- work a lot of the health, uhissues, and uh the issues with people. And I am like 60:00the ultimate case. I don't know how I got elected, but I'm what they're talking about on TV, you know I'm having a hard time. I can't, I can't get insurance, and without insurance, I can't keep going to school. So it's all a cath-22 scenario and I'm sure that it will work out, but I don't really know how. So it's kind of stressful too.


ANDREA: So I don't know, I have a bone to pick with some politicians, but I don't think it's necessarily any body who's doing the job right now, it's just politics and it takes a long time to set up and uh I think we do have a very good system in the United States.

HOLLY: And they're working towards you know things

ANDREA: But, they got a lot of work to do. They got a lot of work to do

HOLLY: Yeah, yeah. Oh definitely. Because how many other people just like you are out there right now? You know? A ton of people. From what we hear in the 61:00media you know it's very you know something's wrong with that definitely

ANDREA: And you know, we're better off than we've ever been in history that's what I keep telling myself. And I keep saying you know 80 years ago, I would have been dead within a week because they didn't have insulin. So now, I'm just like well alright. 50 years ago, people were living what, 30 years? Now you know, 20 years ago, they were living to 80 years. So I should be able to live a normal life expectancy. And while politics kind of makes me crazy with that, we do have a lot more technology so it's on the up hill.

HOLLY: Uh huh, yeah. Oh I defiantly think so to. And speaking of trying to cope with you know, you know working towards you know these, I mean, just coping with 62:00all the different political stressors things in your environment, you know school, being away from your family, just does spirituality mean anything to you? Are you religious in any way? Or do you have any type of spiritual um connection in any way, shape, or form whether it be religious or not. Just as a way of coping with your stressors?

ANDREA: Well, I was raised catholic. And then I went to the hippie school so you mix a little bit of eastern ideas with that, that and Buddhism, and I have basically decided that you treat people how you want to be treated, and you try and give them the benefit of the doubt. Now spirituality with me, being diabetic, there's been different phases. When I was a teenager, it was always 63:00like why me? God hates me oh yeah that's right, I don't really believe in God or maybe I do believe in God? And then

HOLLY: Just trying to figure everything out

ANDREA: And then it changes and now I just think that um everybody has their own crosses to bear, this is mine, and it's kind of a little more obvious than maybe someone with family problems, or I I don't know, I just think that everybody has their own crosses to bear and it kind of evens out by the time we're all finished. So I think mine happened a little earlier than some people and mine is little more evident than some people's, but that doesn't mean I'm at a higher disadvantage for anything.

HOLLY: Right

ANDREA: Just means that everyone's got their own way to go and

HOLLY: ExactlyExactly um And you know, what part of your life ahs had the biggest impact on you? As kind of our closing question, it's kind of a big one 64:00but, it's talking about like the biggest changes in your life and when did these changes occur? Like, that you believe have shaped your life thus far, like put you where you're at right now.

ANDREA: Well I think one of the things is that my mom never let me give up or cop-out or use diabetes as any kind of excuse. She would say, so what if you're diabetic, get up, you're going camping just like everybody else! You know and if I even didn't want to do it, I think that's very definitely where I got the ability to form an opinion that I could do anything everybody else is doing. And truthfully, diabetes is not the worst thing in the world. You know, so I should be able to do at least 9/10ths of what everybody else can do. Then technology's the other part of that. You put the technology to it, and I can do anything anyone else can. I might have to work at a little harder, I might have to set it up beforehand, um I might have to keep the technology going, but with that 65:00attitude and the technology, I can do just about anything!

HOLLY: Yeah, well okay! Well, um thank you so much for taking the time out for this oral history project. And um I really appreciate it, and you have definitely opened up my eyes to Type I diabetes and I really enjoyed our time. And thank you very much!

ANDREA: You're welcome!