Meet two people with diabetes making a difference in very different ways. We’re talking to dietitian and strength coach Ben Tzeell & teen author Morgan Panzirer. First, if you’ve sort of fallen off the nutrition and exercise wagon in the last few months, you’re not alone. But getting back in the game doesn’t mean going to extremes. Ben has advice about starting small and making changes that stick. Morgan was diagnosed with T1D at age 6. She’s now 19 and just wrote a book about her life – so far – with diabetes. It’s called Actually I Can.
Ben’s Blood Sugar Boss program
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Stacey Simms 0:00
Diabetes Connections is brought to you by One Drop created for people with diabetes by people who have diabetes, and by Dexcom, take control of your diabetes and live life to the fullest with Dexcom.
This week, I talked to two people with type one making a difference in very different ways. First, if you’ve sort of fallen off the nutrition exercise wagon in the last few months, you’re not alone. But getting back in the game doesn’t mean going to extremes.
Ben Tzeel 0:37
Life is too short to not enjoy food like that. And the last thing you want is you’re constantly eating air quotes healthy, and now you’re feeling deprived when you see all your friends eating these other things.
Stacey Simms 0:47
That’s dietician and strength coach Ben Tzeel. He’s got more advice about starting small and making changes that stick in Tell me something good. I’m talking to Morgan Panzirer diagnosed at age six. She’s now 19 and just wrote a book about her life so far with diabetes.
Morgan Panzirer 1:05
And I vividly remember being in the car driving to New York City The following day, and saying to my parents, everything will be fine as long as I don’t need a shot.
Stacey Simms 1:15
The book is called, actually I can, and after talking to Morgan, I can tell you better believe she can.
This podcast is not intended as medical advice. If you have those kinds of questions, please contact your health care provider.
Welcome to another week of Diabetes Connections. I am so glad to have you along. Welcome if you’re brand new, we aim to educate and inspire about type 1 diabetes by sharing stories of connection. My son was diagnosed right before he turned two. He is now 15 and a half. My husband lives with type two diabetes. I don’t have diabetes. I have a background in broadcasting. And that is how you get the podcast.
I have been so busy the last week mostly because for whatever reason, sometimes podcast interviews seem to come in clumps. So I had a lot of interviews to do and a lot of production I take care of a lot of it before I send it over to my editor who I’ve mentioned before, but also I’ve been busy with my Friends for Life presentation, Friends for Life is the biggest family conference all about diabetes in the US, possibly the world. And instead of having an in person conference this year, like everybody else, they’re having a virtual conference. And so I decided, and boy, I thought this was a good idea that I would do my usual game show I usually do a game show presentation as one of my talks for them. But I would do Hollywood Squares because boy zoom just lends itself to Hollywood Squares, doesn’t it? That’s what I at least what I think of and I gotta tell you, I’m thrilled with how it came out. But I also got to tell you, I’m not sure I’ll ever do it again.
We had to get eight people I was the ninth you need like a tic tac toe board right for for the Hollywood Squares. The FFL-Wood squares excuse me, that’s Friends for Life, FFL. So FFL-Wood squares and I decided to go big and I got people from all over the world, different time zones. Day here night here. Early morning here, it was amazing. So huge credit to my cast of characters. Thank you to the contestants. I cannot wait to share it with you. The conference itself is mid month. If you’ve signed up for that you’ll see it then. And then we’ll drop it as a video in a podcast episode. Shortly after that. That’s one of the really fun things that I get to do, right. I mean, you have an idea you get to try it. You see if it’s a disaster, you see if it’s fun, but you know, it’s it’s never boring, that’s for sure.
Okay, interviews coming up in just a moment with Ben Tzeel and Morgan Panzirer, but first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by One Drop. One Drop is diabetes management for the 21st century. One Drop was designed by people with diabetes for people with diabetes. One Drops glucose meter looks nothing like a medical device. It’s sleek, compact, and seamlessly integrates with the award winning One Drop mobile app, sync all your other health apps to One Drop to keep track of the big picture and easily see health trends. And with a One Drop subscription you get unlimited test strips and lancets delivered right to your door every One Drop plan. Also in access to your own certified diabetes coach have questions but don’t feel like waiting for your next doctor visit your personal coach is always there to help go to Diabetes connections.com and click on the One Drop logo to learn more.
Unusual show this week and that I have two guests two separate interviews. And if you’re here only for one or the other, that is fine. I can tell you that Morgan’s interview starts about 22 minutes from now, so you won’t hurt my feelings if you skip ahead. But I really think you’ll like my first guest, Ben Tzeel. we first talked to him last year. He’s a dietician, he’s a strength coach. And Ben says eating and living with diabetes should not be boring or feel like punishment. We had a fun conversation about what that really means good intentions about eating well, and exercising and quarantine and more. Here’s my talk with Ben Tzeel.
Hey, Ben, it’s good to talk to you again. Thanks for coming on.
Ben Tzeel 4:53
I’m just so thankful to be here. And it’s so awesome. It’s just amazing. Thank you.
Stacey Simms 4:58
You’re really well. We’ll see about But
Ben Tzeel 5:02
it’s human. It’s human interaction right now we don’t have much of that these days do it.
Stacey Simms 5:06
Well, let’s start talking about that. I mean, how have you been living since the stay at home orders? What’s your life been like?
Ben Tzeel 5:13
I just don’t go anywhere. I’ve been living in Florida, not nothing against Florida, but I feel like the cases go down and then the cases go up. And that’s just what you hear about everywhere. And I just figure it’s just not something I’d rather really want to deal with if that makes any sense. Do you live alone? I actually live with my girlfriend and fortunately for me, she’s willing to do a lot of the grocery shopping and a lot of the day to day stuff at the pharmacy but honestly, we just don’t go anywhere because she works in the ICU as a pharmacist and she sees all this stuff firsthand. Wow.
Stacey Simms 5:44
That’s gonna be interesting job to have right now.
Unknown Speaker 5:47
Stacey Simms 5:49
Assuming that you’ve been doing this since mid March, yo, how’s your health? How are you keeping up because you’re pretty intense person when it comes to fitness?
Ben Tzeel 5:58
Yeah, I definitely like to thanks. So it’s something where I’ve had to get creative. I’ve had to step outside of my comfort zone and really look at what I have and say, Okay, what can I do with what I currently have? And slowly, you can assemble a little mini gym at home and things like that. But I’ve really, really taken time and effort to focus on what can I do instead of, well, this is out of my control, I guess my fitness is gonna go away. I guess all of my other habits that I’ve worked so hard to develop are gonna just fall by the wayside?
Stacey Simms 6:26
Well, I think for some of us, those things, the second part, those things have happened, right? Because it is hard to maintain a routine It is hard to, you know, especially when, and I’m gonna get personal here for people like me, you know, you’re a strength and conditioning coach, you know, this is what you do. I’m a suburban mom who walks her dog and goes to the gym a couple of days a week. And it’s been really easy for me to fall out of those good habits over the last couple of months. You know, do you have any advice? If people are listening and thinking, Well, I haven’t kept up so it’s too late now.
Ben Tzeel 6:56
Well, it’s first one of those things is to your point where you mentioned It’s too late. Now, it’s never too late to actually start and say, I’m gonna look back and say, This is what I did before, this is what I was doing. And maybe I won’t be at that same point right now, because I have let myself fall off because I have fallen out of this routine. But what is something I can do today that small to just build a little bit of momentum. And as you build that you take another baby step, another baby step, and suddenly, you’re taking strides to get back to where you were. So if you start from that mindset, and that point, just make that tiny little shift, you end up in a situation where suddenly three, four weeks from now, you’re thinking, wow, I’m already almost back to where I was. Because your muscle does have a memory, it is going to remember where you were. And as long as you put in those same habits you previously had, you should be totally fine.
Stacey Simms 7:45
It’s funny when you talk about, you know, getting back into routine because I think at the beginning of this, I don’t know if this happened to you, me and my daughter, and I think a lot of people and my daughter came home from college, and we said All right, we’re going to do yoga on YouTube. We’re going to walk the dog like five miles every day, and we’re gonna get really, you know, in great shape, we have a stationary bike, and we’re going to do all these bikes and all these rides and, and we really haven’t done much of it at all after those first couple of weeks, and I’ve seen some really funny parody videos on that and a lot of people who have felt this way, but I want to flip that around and say you have taken as you said, You’ve gotten creative in your house, can you tell us a little bit of some of the things you’ve done to make your your home gym, I’m assuming that you didn’t run out and buy a whole bunch of, you know, gym radio equipment?
Ben Tzeel 8:29
No, I was fortunate that I my parents don’t live too far away. And I had a bunch of dumbbells and a bunch of things from my youth that I was able to pick up. But beyond that, I mean, I was pretty much in the same situation that everybody else was where I had a few resistance bands and a few dumbbells and a few little things and had to start realizing. All right, well, I want to keep my insulin sensitivity good. I want to stay on this track of that I’ve been working so hard to be on what can I do. And so maybe that requires you sitting down and saying Alright, I’m going to restructure my workouts, I’m going to tell myself maybe I was doing four days a week before an upper body and lower body, you can still do that. But you may have to adapt. Instead of using a cable, you may have to use a band instead of using like a barbell or instead of using a heavier weight, you might have to go more reps at a lighter weight, or incorporate pauses or incorporate other bodyweight movements that can be just as challenging. And honestly, the first few weeks of the quarantine, stay at home, whatever you want to call it. I actually felt like I was more sore than when I was in the gym because I had to push harder.
Stacey Simms 9:34
You’ve mentioned your blood sugar several times you’ve lived with type one you were diagnosed when you were a kid. I’ve heard two schools of thought here over the last couple of months. One is you know, my blood sugar’s are all over the place. I’m stressed out I’m so worried and you know, things are crazy. And then the other side of the coin is my blood sugar’s have never been steadier. You know, I’m not going anywhere. I’m not eating restaurant food, where do you fall in on that?
Ben Tzeel 9:56
I would probably fall. That’s it. I mean, I’ll Honestly, it’s a good question because I see it a lot from the first perspective. So I feel like I then kind of translate that to me. But it’s actually my numbers have been in better control since this all began. Because there haven’t been as many extraneous factors. I’m not going places. There’s lots of unknown variables introduced. But I just I feel for a lot of the people that are in the first situation because there is that lack of routine and that lack of structure. And while everybody says, Oh, I, I wish I could be home more, I wish I didn’t go to my job. Taking that structure out of the picture can really make it difficult to stick to that exercise program really stick to the food and the nutrition that’s been making you feel good with good blood sugars, and you ultimately fall off that path. And when you do your blood sugar’s kind of take over everything else. And during a time where there are no sports, there’s not lots of distractions, there’s no big gatherings, there’s no concerts, your blood sugar’s can literally become the one thing that you hone in on and focus on way too hard.
Stacey Simms 10:55
That’s funny because I thought you were gonna say there at the end that you can really you can focus on And really make a great difference. But you said you focus on and you know, it can it can not be a great thing. Can you expand on that last thought?
Ben Tzeel 11:08
Sure. And I mean, of course, I can tell you it, there’s ways to get around it. But a lot of people what will happen is, I mean, think about it like because there aren’t tons of social things to be doing. And there’s not tons of activities and tons of distractions, you start to look at the few distractions you have in your life. And one of them would be, I wouldn’t call diabetes, a distraction, but it’s one of the big prominent parts of your life if you have it. And it just starts to become a bigger and bigger and bigger thing that you just the more you focus on it, the more it expands and the bigger role it can take in your life. So I’ve watched a lot of people people I’ve worked with people I’ve interacted with on social media, that they end up in a situation where their blood sugar’s just take over their entire existence where they’re looking at their decks calm every five minutes, wondering what’s going to happen and sometimes that leads to great results, but other times, it just drives people crazy. He drives up their stress level and they get into this loop of frustration. Oh, my blood sugar’s high. Oh, I’m a failure and they go down the spiral that is very counterproductive in terms of living like a really as free of a life as possible to do right now.
Stacey Simms 12:14
Yeah, I would also echo that for parents as you were listening. I think it’s super easy. And I found myself doing this too, with Benny home a lot more. It’s easy to focus on our kids blood sugar’s more, right? They’re not going anywhere. They’re not go to the movies, they’re not hanging out with friends. And it’s easier to make that a bigger focus than it needs to be. So I’m kind of listening to this and taking it to heart. But you know, one of the things you’re really known for in social media is these these crazy foods, right? We talked about this last time when you were on, you know, giant donut, big meals and stuff. And I’m curious if there’s, you know, we often figure especially newly diagnosed, we often find out that we love restaurant food because it’s full of hidden fats and sugars and you know, salt and butter and all those delicious things that We love and that’s what makes restaurant food so good. But it’s kind of hard to bolus for that stuff. Are you finding it easier? I mean anything on that in terms of home cooking, which I’m so sick of Ben, I am so tired of cooking. And my husband helps if he cooks too, so I’m just sick of it.
Ben Tzeel 13:13
Well, I can’t blame you for being sick of home cooking because it gets to a point where I’m probably three months or so from having had something from the outside. And it’s I’m just craving something
Stacey Simms 13:26
brought in a meal. You haven’t brought anything in.
Ben Tzeel 13:28
I just maybe I’m paranoid, but I just I just would rather be like, you know what, at least I know, I’m dealing with the prep and I’m dealing with everything else. And when this starts to settle down, then I’ll start to venture out and have all of the fun food again. Not that I haven’t had fun. Trust me. You can make many fun things at your house. I know what you’re making.
Stacey Simms 13:45
Yeah, no, I have friends who haven’t brought any food in. I mean, we’re not in that camp, obviously. But I know a few people who’ve done that
Ben Tzeel 13:51
Emilio wants me to really bad so we’re working on it. We’re in a negotiation right now. But to your point, I would say when you know All of the factors within what you’re eating. So of course, you know that you’ve prepped it, you know, what you’ve put into it, you know, everything and everything. And there’s no variables, there’s no question marks. And we’re not talking about the COVID part, but just about the actual composition of the food itself, then it’s a lot easier to bolus for because you have all the answers. You have all the math right there when someone else creates something, even if it’s something that, you know, Oh, I know, this is a bacon double cheeseburger, and I know I’ve had them before. And this is what happens. There’s some sort of variability because that part of it is out of your control. And that lack of control can be difficult to account for granted. There’s ways to take it in to consideration and be able to say, all right, this is what I’m going to do based on experience based on other knowledge, like put numbers and experience together and make a very educated decision and dose and do amazing with it. But just that little factor of there’s other stuff in here there is that hidden fat you were describing. There’s sometimes things are cooked in, in oils we don’t know about there’s sugar that might got thrown in there that you don’t know. And then you end up eating some foods like that and you get frustrated you you have chicken alfredo and your blood sugar goes up to 320 for the next seven hours, no matter what you do no matter what you dose and you’re just full of frustration the whole time.
Stacey Simms 15:14
So you work with a lot of people with type one and your background is nutrition. You have a master’s degree, you’re registered dietitian. I’m curious what the first change you urge people to make when they come to I know not everybody’s the same. But you know, one of the questions maybe that you ask,
Ben Tzeel 15:30
I guess, coming from me, the first things I want to know is where people are starting out right now. Like, what are you eating? and kind of just getting you aware of what are you eating because as evidenced during this time, and this time, please put a magnifying glass on it more than anything else. But people kind of just go through the motions. They don’t pay as much attention to, oh, I’m eating X, Y and Z. They just say oh, I’m gonna make whatever I can grab and I’m just gonna go for it and eat and then continue and a lot of people can’t tell you what they ate for lunch yesterday. So my first goal is get them really aware, what are you eating? Start to kind of get a sense of it and then get them understanding. Are you making the meals complete? Are you getting your proteins, your fiber, your veggies? Are you getting them to the point where you’re getting the nutrients that you need for both the body composition that you want, but also for the blood sugar control, because once you have the blood sugars and control, the body comes a lot faster, whether you want to lose weight or get strong. And once the blood sugars are controlled, you can do all the things in life that you really want to be doing.
Stacey Simms 16:30
I’m always worried about talking about diets, right? Because people want to lose weight, they go on a diet, people try all sorts of different things. We’ve talked about this in the past to me low carb, high carb, whatever it is, what do you find works overall, in general, for the people that you work with.
Ben Tzeel 16:45
For the people that I work with. I’ve had people on 400 grams of carbs, I’ve had people on 40 grams of carbs. The most important factors that I’ve noticed are getting enough protein into your life and I know a lot of people are concerned Oh protein is going to Your kidneys. But all the research, if you dig into it has shown that a higher protein diet is actually advantageous to the kidneys. I’m not saying you need to eat like five chickens a day, but at the same time, a substantial amount of protein. I would also say making sure you do get the fiber. That’s why I tried to hit on those big three the protein, the fiber than the veggies, the fiber is going to be important whether you get that from veggies and fruit or whether you do get that from some grains. Some people do well on a decent amount of carbs. Again, it’s that carb side of it is preference and everyone in diabetes is so fixated on it, when I can’t stress enough where people that I’ve worked with are super successful on all levels of carbs, but having the protein, having the fiber, having enough of the veggies, those three things and then the other thing would be the 9010 rule. And that would be something where I would I don’t know if it’s actually a rule I may have made it up but it’s 90% of the time you’re eating on point you know what you’re doing, you’re making quality choices and that other 10% of the time you’re enjoying the sunset You’re enjoying the desserts, you’re enjoying the finer things that life has to offer. Because life is too short to not enjoy food like that. And the last thing you want is you’re constantly eating air quotes healthy. And now you’re feeling deprived when you see all your friends eating these other things. And as long as you have a strategy on how to dose for it, so your blood sugar is going to be ultimately good. There’s no reason to deprive yourself of having that and so many people are living limited in that scope of I can’t have that because I have diabetes, that food scares me. This is awful. Like, I wish I could have that and you can have that. But allowing yourself that wiggle room of 10% that is usually enough to say hey, I’m gonna get the results I’m putting into a effort 90% of the time to get the blood sugar’s get the body but then the other time I can enjoy everything.
Unknown Speaker 18:50
What’s your big favorite 10% fool?
Ben Tzeel 18:53
That’s Oh, that’s a loaded question. I was gonna say there’s a restaurant here called dance and dance. And Tampa has these loaded nachos that are so good. They’re like a once every six month kind of thing, but they’ve got like the cheese and the pulled pork, and they’ve got the beans and they’ve got the ground beef and honestly, it’s actually not a terrible meal in general but there’s just so it’s so calorie dense. That would be one cookie dough for sure would be one. The edible cookie dough not like cookie dough. That’s raw eggs. And then Honestly, I have to say this but have you had cookie butter before? I have not had cookie pokey buttered so I love cookie. What is it cookie butter? It’s I don’t even know how to describe it. There’s like this. I know the first time I had it was from Trader Joe’s and then they have some everywhere apparently I didn’t know it was a big thing. But it’s literally like the butter form of cookie. It’s like imagine peanut butter consistency but it tastes like a cookie and it’s basically straight fat and straight sugar. But it’s so good. Oh my God. That is my guilty pleasure. I will not lie. That’s It’s so good. That Great,
Stacey Simms 20:00
okay, he’s got some advice. We’ve You know, we’ve gotten some insight into how you operate. I know you have a new program that you’re working on, tell us what this is all about. How can people take part?
Ben Tzeel 20:11
Absolutely. So I have a program called blood sugar boss, because everybody wants to be a blood sugar boss, you want to be in control of your blood sugars and in control of your life, getting the body that you want, and literally living life without any kind of limits. And so the premise is, you’re going through and restaurants become no big deal. You can walk into a restaurant by the end of this and point out what you want on the menu and say I want that and know how you’re gonna dose for what your game plan is going to be. No questions asked, like the on the exercise side of things with respect to blood sugars going low constantly, that part’s eliminated. You know, you go and exercise no matter what you’re doing. We’re eliminating the lows. we’re eliminating the highest you can truly do what you want to do without having any concerns and actually focus on The exercise instead of Oh my god, what is my blood sugar going to do? Then of course talking about the food side of things to make sure that you know what choices need to go into that 90% what choices need to go to that 10% and when you do go in that 10% How to dose so you’re not concerned? Oh, man, I’m going to be 300 for the next six hours. I know exactly what to do for that. I mean, we’re going into travel when travels the thing again, you know, we’re making sure that you go on a trip, you’re like, Okay, instead of vacation being stressful, this is no big deal. We’re hitting everything on all different kinds of angles. And by the end of it, you can walk away from it saying, I am in control, no situation will faze me and this is literally everything I need to know about diabetes, and I forgot one of the other big things were kick starting your metabolism up. So you’re going to be able to be prepared to get stronger and lose weight. At the same time. I’m curious you you share a lot as I mentioned on inside on social media, and the other day, I saw you share a post where you were over 300 for a while, you know, you had I think it was at a Ben canula or something like that. Are you concerned that when you share something like that, right? Do you get feedback from people saying, how could you that’s so dangerous? Or, you know, how could you let that happen? I’m curious what kind of feedback you get when you are that transparent, because, you know, we all know that’s gonna happen, right? And I think if there’s a lot of people out there that go on social media, and they act a certain type of way, and they say, Well, my blood sugar’s are great all the time. And my numbers are always the decks combined, it’s flat, and everything’s awesome. And that’s cool. You can share that. But that’s just sharing the highlight reel of life. People are almost afraid to show the authentic side of the side of them that shows I’m human that I get that annulus to these things do happen. And so I feel like by showing that, it’s like, Look, I’m not perfect, I’ve never been perfect, and there are people out there who I’m sure have had that situation happened to them. And if anything, I think it makes you more relatable. And it’s okay to put yourself out and say, Hey, this does happen to everybody. Oh, my goodness, you can eat the same thing at the same time every single day and get a slightly different result. So, in that situation, it’s part of life. Everybody goes through it.
Stacey Simms 23:15
Before I really let you go, I had to laugh when you said blood sugar boss. Because when Benny was was little, I mean, he was diagnosed before he was two. So we had to use all these, like really kid friendly ways of talking to him about diabetes. And I remember when he was about four or five years old, we started talking to him about like, being the boss of diabetes, you know, and little kids like to boss stuff around. Little kids have no control over anything, right? Everybody tells them what to do and where to sit and when to wake up, or when to go to bed and what to eat. So they have no choices, and sort of get to be the boss of something was really cool for him. And then the flip side of that was I had to say to him, Look, if you were if you’re not the boss of diabetes, it’s going to become the boss of you. And it really worked for a long time to help us teach him and but it’s so funny. I forgot all about that. Until you mentioned The name of your program. So thanks for bringing that memory back up. It wasn’t something that I had remembered. But it’s so important because if you don’t take control over it, you mean, you have no choice, it will take control of you.
Ben Tzeel 24:11
Absolutely. And that’s, that’s the whole goal here is like you said, you have to be the one that’s saying, I am going to actively take control over this because otherwise your life is run by diabetes, whether you allow it because you allow it to you don’t take back the power from it, and you don’t say, this is my life, this is what I want to do. And if you don’t actively make that decision, it’s gonna make it for you. And you don’t want someone else or something else. In this case, diabetes making that decision for you want to live life on your terms. So you need to make sure that you are a blood sugar boss.
Stacey Simms 24:43
I love it. Well, thank you so much for joining me. Thanks for sharing the program all the best with it.
Ben Tzeel 24:47
Oh, thank you so much. I’m just glad to be able to help more people in our community and I’m just thankful for the opportunity to chat with you as always, that’s always an awesome time on here.
Unknown Speaker 25:01
You’re listening to diabetes connections
Unknown Speaker 25:03
with Stacey Simms
Stacey Simms 25:06
more information about Ben’s program blood sugar boss in the show notes and I’ll link up his Instagram account as well now I’m gonna have to go back and look now because I do get a kick out of the bonkers food that he posts like these big portions and you know wild desserts and things once in a while, but I’m thinking now he said that they had been eating at home and creating their own stuff since the stay at home order. And now I really want to take a look and see what they’ve been making because we’ve been cooking a ton I think just like everybody, right? But I haven’t been baking or making desserts. My daughter I have an 18 year old daughter and she likes to bake and she’s been making cookies and brownies and stuff like that, but I’m not getting creative when it comes to desserts. I like to eat desserts, but I’m not making at this point. I am barely making dinner. I am so sick of Okay. All right. Well, you know good problems to have, I suppose.
The author of the book actually I can is our Tell me something good this week, but first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dexcom. And we’ve been using the Dexcom G6 since it came out two years ago now, and it’s amazing. The G6 is now FDA permitted for no finger sticks for calibration and diabetes treatment decisions. You do that to our warmup and the number just pops up. I know it sounds funny if you’re newer to Dexcom but we’ve been using it for seven years now. And when you’re used to calibrating you know, and not getting that number automatically, it really does. It just seems so different. The G6 has longer sensor we’re now 10 days and the new sensor applicator is so easy to use, but he does it all himself. Of course we love the alerts and alarms and we can set them however we want. If your glucose alerts and readings from the G6 do not match symptoms or expectations, use a blood glucose meter to make diabetes treatment decisions. To learn more, go to Diabetes, Connections comm and click on the Dexcom logo.
Morgan Panzirer is our Tell me something good this week she was diagnosed With type one when she was six years old, that’s obviously not the good part. She is now 19, a college student who would like to become a pediatric endocrinologist. Now her sister also lives with type one. Morgan started writing the book that we’re going to talk about here in middle school. It’s called actually I can, Morgan was great to talk to you. She was very patient with my questions and my ignorance about equestrian sports. Here’s my interview with Morgan Panzirer. Morgan, thank you so much for spending a few minutes with me. I’m really excited to hear the stories behind the book. Thanks for coming on.
Unknown Speaker 27:32
Yeah, of course. I’m so happy to be here.
Unknown Speaker 27:34
What gave you the idea to write this book?
Unknown Speaker 27:37
I started writing it in seventh grade for two main reasons. The first was I was fed up with all the misconceptions that people with type 1 diabetes hear every day, for example, Oh, you got diabetes, because you ate too much sugar things along those lines. So I decided that maybe if I could tell my story, I would be able to kind of change the way the general public views this disease. The second reason I wrote it was because I really wanted to empower others living with Type One Diabetes and show them. That doesn’t have to be something that holds you back. Rather, you can use it as an opportunity to do whatever you want to do. So
Unknown Speaker 28:14
you started writing in middle school, but you were diagnosed at age six, much younger than that. Do you remember your day? Your diagnosis story?
Morgan Panzirer 28:21
Yes, I’ll never forget. It is so clear in my mind. I had been drinking and peeing a lot. So my mom knew the signs of Type One Diabetes because she was a nutritionist. Yeah, so my mom knew the sign. So she decided to ask my pediatrician to test me just to humor her. She was sure it was nothing but she said, just test it anyway. So she did and a couple days later, my pediatrician called us I’ll never forget exactly where we were in the car. And she said to my mom, I’m so sorry to tell you this, but Morgan does have type one diabetes, and my mom just immediately started crying. We were all shocked. We went to the Naomi berry Diabetes Center at Columbia the following day. And from there, it was just, let’s get through this.
Stacey Simms 29:07
So your mother was a little bit familiar with it, but in being a nutritionist, but I can’t imagine you knew at all who you’re in for, and especially at age six,
Morgan Panzirer 29:15
no, I had no idea. And I vividly remember being in the car driving to New York City The following day, and saying to my parents, everything will be fine. As long as I don’t need a shot. Little did I know, every day of my life, I was gonna have multiple needles among the finger sticks and other things. So my parents didn’t really know how to explain it to me, and it was definitely a rude awakening for the next few days to come. When you started writing, did you share it with anybody else? Was it just for you at the time? Yes, it was just for me at the time. No one. I didn’t really tell anyone about it. No one really knew that I was doing it at all. I was very private about it. But as the years went on, I eventually decided to tell my parents and they were like, you are What? So it was kind of fun. It was. It was a long process. But yeah, the beginning it was definitely just a very personal thing for me. And then your younger sister was diagnosed as well. What was that? Like? How old was she? How old were you at the time. So she was 13 when she was diagnosed, she’s now 16. So I was 16 when she was diagnosed, and that just broke my heart because I had had diabetes at that point for 10 years. So I totally knew what it was like, and it made me think I would not wish it on anyone, especially someone in my own family. So to see her kind of struggle with it, and because she was diagnosed a lot older, I think it was hard for her to kind of get through it because she knew and remembered and understood what life was like prior. And now the fact that you have to make put so much thought into eating an apple, I think really kind of threw her for a loop, but I was really happy that I was there and could kind of show her the ropes and show her that this doesn’t have to be the end It won’t stop her. She doesn’t want it too.
Stacey Simms 31:02
It sounds like you have a really good relationship with your sister. But you know, it’s gotta be hard to you know your sister. So I don’t want to make it like it was a perfect relationship, but due to diabetes in some way for you closer, I mean, I kind of hate that because it’s a cliche, but you to share it and experience that nobody else in your family could really understand in the way you were going through it.
Morgan Panzirer 31:21
Yeah, it did. I would definitely say that it brought us closer. I mean, we always had a great relationship growing up. I mean, she was the only other girl in the house besides my mom. So we did everything together anyway. And we did have a really good relationship. But this definitely was something that I could share with her and I couldn’t really relate to something like that with anyone else. So I think we, I mean, we don’t talk about it a ton, but it is something that if I’m having a terrible day, I’m like, Oh, this stays the worst. And she’s like, Yeah, I know what you mean. So I think in that way, it definitely makes it easier for sure.
Unknown Speaker 31:57
Okay, so you grew up in a household where After your diagnosis, your parents jumped in with both feet for advocacy. And they jumped in in a way that is unique because your dad is a trustee of the Helmsley trust, which is a as you listen, if you’re not familiar, just an unbelievable funder of so much Diabetes Research and so many diabetes advocacy causes and effect. We had your dad on the show last year, but he is a very passionate person, as you know, Morgan, where he was really talking about the need for better education when people get great diabetes devices. And you know, trying to help in that respect. What was it like to know that what happened to you affected what your parents did with their lives? I mean, there’s put so much time and energy into this cause,
Morgan Panzirer 32:39
oh my gosh, yeah, it was unbelievable. I mean, my dad became a trustee shortly after my diagnosis. So again, at six years old, I had no idea what that meant. But as I grew up and saw the impact he’s having on this community and everyone with this disease, I’m so grateful that he went this way because I really do believe that he’s making enormous differences in this community. I’ve already seen tons of new technologies that have come out, in part, thanks to his funding. So I’m so grateful. And my mom actually has she’s a big runner. So she’s run numerous half marathons and marathons with jdrf to raise money. So the fact that they’re just all in for me and my sister is, there’s no words to describe it. It’s unbelievable. You’ve been able to do a lot of things yourself. You were a children’s Congress with jdrf. That was in 2009. So how old were you when you did children’s Congress? I was eight when I when was that something that was meaningful to you? Yeah, it was a really monumental event, I think because it really marked the beginning of my advocacy. And especially being that little I didn’t really understand that I could make a difference prior to this. But when I got there and saw oh my gosh, all these kids are going through the same thing I’m going through and look at this difference we’re making on a national level, I think it really showed me that I did have the ability to make a change if I wanted to, and if I set my mind to it. So it was definitely a big step for me and understanding that I had the ability to make a big change for everyone with this disease. And it definitely marks the beginning of my advocacy, as I mentioned prior.
Unknown Speaker 34:19
So tell me about advocacy for an eight year old. I know because I just people listening are kind of thinking like, well, what else? You know, there’s children’s Congress vote what really can an eight year old do?
Morgan Panzirer 34:27
It was crazy because we’re at Children’s Congress. We’re talking to our senators. I didn’t even know what a senator was. I was like, Who are you? Like, you seem really important, but I don’t know what you do. Um, but it was really just a place for me to learn and understand and it opened a bunch of doors for not necessarily when I was eight years old still, but when I was older, it really just allowed me to understand, okay, I can do this and I can make a change and talk to these super important scary people. If I want to so I wouldn’t say necessarily started my advocacy at eight years old, but it definitely opened that door and set that path or the years coming up.
Stacey Simms 35:10
So in the book, actually, I can you mentioned, you know, sugar and misconceptions.
Morgan Panzirer 35:15
Are there actually, as I say, actually, are there questions that that really have followed you that you would answer? Actually, I can. Oh, there’s so many. It’s funny, you should say that. Because one of the chapters towards the end of the book actually has a bunch of things that I’ve heard people say prior about this. And my answer to each of them is actually I can so that’s really funny. You should bring that up. So yeah, it’s all surrounding kind of the sugar aspect. And that always drove me crazy. Like, oh, you Sorry, you can’t have this ice pop. It’s not sugar free. And to that, I would say, Actually, I can. So it’s really funny that you should bring that up.
Stacey Simms 35:53
Well, I mean, it’s something that I think many people with diabetes experience over and over again to the point where you have to decide Are you going to be annoyed and be sarcastic? Or say nothing? Or am I going to be annoyed and continue to educate? Right and that second one, even just as a parent of a child with type one, I try to choose the second one as often as I can, but it really does wear on you. So when I saw the name of your book, I was like, totally can relate.
Morgan Panzirer 36:19
Unknown Speaker 36:20
And you ride correct. That’s your sport is, is I’m gonna say it incorrectly as horseback riding.
Morgan Panzirer 36:26
Yes, that is my sport. How do I say that? What’s the real sport? equestrian sports? Thank you,
Unknown Speaker 36:33
Unknown Speaker 36:35
I’ve not talked to somebody with type one who is you know, involved in equestrian sports. Can you tell us a little bit about how you go about doing that? I mean, because obviously, there’s got to be equipment, requirements of the sport and concerns about a pump and a CGM. So
Morgan Panzirer 36:50
what do you do? Absolutely. So I started writing actually right after my diagnosis, and at the beginning, it was fairly easy to manage my blood sugar’s Because I was young and just doing beginner things, but as I got older and obviously I started wearing a CGM a little later I got a little more difficult because I was riding for longer I was doing more difficult things. So it became a game of trial and error to kind of find the balance of Okay, I need to cut back my Bazell this this much time prior to getting on and then afterwards, I should sip on a Gatorade. So it was a big game of trial and error that definitely got frustrating at times. But then the whole other battle was at horse shows because when you horse show, you’re not allowed to have a phone or any sort of electronic device on you. So I’ll never forget there was this one show I was competing in and I go in and I do my course. So I do the jumpers for anyone that knows. So I go in, I jump my course and I come out and the judge walkie talkie over to the end gate where you enter the ring and said she has to be disqualified because she has a phone on her and I was like I don’t Promise you like, I’ll show it to you. It’s not a phone. So they ended up being understanding but after that I had to really be conscientious about prior to stepping in the ring, having the person that was managing the in gate radio over to the judge and say she’s that does not have a phone. She’s wearing an insulin pump. So that was something I found really interesting. Um, but yeah, it was it’s definitely an interesting sport to have type one and do for sure. Well,
Stacey Simms 38:28
you know, and obviously, you had to educate them and now hopefully the next time somebody comes through that way, they would know that a pump isn’t a phone, but I’m curious too, you know, obviously writing horse is not driving a car, but it is one of the few sports where you’re, you’re not alone, right you have to stretch but work with me here. In a way you’re you know, you’re controlling the horse you’re in charge, you have to be in your you have to have good enough diabetes control, that you know, if you’re going low, you can Have you could have an accident you could get seriously injured for sure. Yeah. I mean, that’s got to be something that I know your parents would be worried about. But as an athlete, it’s it’s a little bit more consequential in a way than like my son. He’s played every kind of sport but if he goes low and basketball, he’s probably you know, he’s just gonna get himself off the court. He’s he’s not taking a horse
Morgan Panzirer 39:21
Yeah, it’s, it’s interesting because there have definitely been times where I’m so invested in riding and what I’m doing that I don’t even realize how low I am. So I really have to be careful and always be watching I wear my Apple Watch which is a huge help because I just clicked the Dexcom app and my blood sugar pops right up. So that’s made it a lot easier but as you said, there’s definitely an added component of stress because if something happens to me, I’m either a gonna fall off and get seriously hurt or be by horses going to be running around loose in the ring. So
aren’t really ideal circumstances. For sure,
Stacey Simms 40:00
my apologies to you and anyone listening who is familiar with equestrian sports hearing me painfully make my way through trying to describe. But I appreciate it. Obviously, your parents have read the book, and they must be so proud of you. But was there anything in there that you thought? I don’t know if I want my parents to read this? Are you? I mean, I know it’s nothing terrible. But you know, in terms of, I think sometimes the people I’ve talked to with type one, are worried that they’re going to make their parents worry more, even as adults, they just don’t want their parents to worry. And I was curious if that went through your head at all, as you were releasing this book?
Morgan Panzirer 40:35
Yeah, I mean, there’s one chapter in particular that comes to mind where I’m just very raw about my emotions. And at home, I’m not someone who’s like that. I’m very quiet. And if something’s bothering me, I’ll go to my room and deal with it there. So I think putting that all out on paper and having that kind of out to the world and then have my parents read it. I don’t want to say I was hesitant, but it was it was interesting because I didn’t really know how they were going to react to me being like, Oh, I broke down into tears because they don’t usually see me do that very often. So I was, I was a little scared as to what they would think like, Oh, no, is she like crazy at our room? Like what is she doing all the time, but I think they just they were very understanding like, if this is how you want to deal with it, this is how you deal with it. You do whatever you need to do.
Stacey Simms 41:25
When I was looking it up on Amazon earlier, I laughed because you know, Amazon has that if you bought this, you might buy that or, you know, bought and there was my book, there was the world’s worst diabetes mom and a bunch of other great diabetes books too. But I laughed because I guess with the teenager in the parenting, maybe they put it together. You know, the world’s worst diabetes mom is not about really being a terrible parent. It’s about the insecurities that we as parents have when we make mistakes with our kids. I’m curious for you. It sounds like your parents gave you an awful lot of independence and had a lot of confidence in you and I Assume your sister as well. Any message for parents of kids with type one who think we’re just messing up and we’re the worst?
Morgan Panzirer 42:07
You’re not the worst, I can start by saying that. I think I would say try to give your child as much independence as possible without making it unsafe. My parents, as you said, gave me a ton of independence. And I think it worked really well for me, but it’s also really different. So what works for me may not work for my sister. So you kind of have to be willing to cater to your child’s needs and what you think will suit them best. But independence for me was key.
Stacey Simms 42:36
And then I’ll flip it around and say, okay, you’re you’re a college student. Now you’re you’re not you know, you’re not quite done with being a teenager, but the high school experience is behind you. Any advice for teenagers? type one?
Morgan Panzirer 42:47
Yeah, I would say teenage years are tough just because your peers are naturally a lot more judgmental than they are when they’re adults. Do what you do. Don’t hide anything. If they want to be jerks about it. Let them be jerks about it. That’s their problem. And just don’t let them get the best of you because I was bullied by freshman year of high school for wearing a CGM on my leg and was shorts on and things like that. So I would just say, don’t let the haters hate who cares, they can do what they want.
Unknown Speaker 43:18
And for you now, what are you studying? Did I read you want to be an endocrinologist?
Morgan Panzirer 43:22
Yes, I am studying biology in Spanish on a pre med track. And I’m hoping to go to medical school for pediatric endocrinology. Did you have an endocrinologist growing up that inspired you? When did you realize you want to do something like this? It’s funny, it was kind of the opposite. Hopefully, he’s not listening right now. He wasn’t bad by any means. But I just thought it would be really cool if I had an endocrinologist who also has type one who can relate to what I’m going through and make me feel like I’m not alone. So if I want that from my endocrinologist, I want to be able to give that to others. So I’m hoping that eventually, if I make it through med school, I’ll be able to give that experience to younger children who are also fighting type one. That’s great. And then someday you could do the next book, which is actually you can Exactly.
Stacey Simms 44:18
Work it. Thank you so much for talking with me. often don’t hear about those teen years and growing up with type one until people are adults, so I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story. I really wish you the very best with this.
Morgan Panzirer 44:28
Of course, thank you so much for having me.
Stacey Simms 44:33
I will link up more information about Morgan’s book, just go to Diabetes connections.com click on the episode homepage. As usual, there’s also a episode transcription. I started doing that in January of 2020 of this year, we’re slowly going back the catalog I’ll probably put the transcripts in for past shows as well. But you know, there’s a lot of shows we’re up to episode This is 310 if you’re keeping track so I’m doing the best I can with transcriptions but 2020 and going forward getting great feedback on that. And thank you, I really appreciate hearing from you. If there’s something that you really like or don’t like with the show, and the transcriptions have been a big hit, people listen to the show people read the show, and some people listen while they read the show. However, I can serve you That is what I’m here for. And I’m kind of laughing. But really, that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to add the transcriptions. I think there’s some excellent information. It’s not about me, it’s about the information and if you can read it, I know some people just prefer that. So very cool. Thanks again.
And, you know, when you go to Amazon, and you see, it just makes me laugh, right? The you see Morgan’s book with my book. I don’t know why it makes me laugh. I mean, I’m a serious author now. But I do get a kick out of serious author (laughs). I do get a kick out of seeing people I know or have met, along with my book. It’s just really a lot of fun. I don’t know. Maybe it’s silly, but I really get a kick out of it.
All right, great month of shows coming up. I’m very excited about July because we’re going to be talking about selecting an insulin pump, not which pump is best, but how do you select one that’s like the number one Question all these Facebook groups? What pumps should I get? What pumps Should I get my kid? We’re also gonna be talking about pancreas transplant. I’ve wanted to talk to somebody who had a pancreas transplant for years and years because you hear you know how difficult it is or how does it even happen. And so we’ve done that and I’m really thrilled to share that interview with you in the coming weeks. And of course, the fiscal would squares. That chaotic show will be out soon as well. So lots of good stuff coming up. More on the way. Thank you to my editor, chunky tennis solutions. And thank you so much for listening. I’m Stacey Simms. I’ll see you back here next week. Until then, kind to yourself.
Diabetes Connections is a production of Stacey Simms media. All rights reserved. All wrongs avenged