Helen Cooper gets the COVID vaccine

[podcast src=”https://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/16080086/height/90/theme/custom/thumbnail/yes/direction/forward/render-playlist/no/custom-color/3e9ccc/” width=”100%” scrolling=”no” class=”podcast-class” frameborder=”0″ placement=”top” primary_content_url=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/diabetesconnections/Ep_324_Final_Covid_Vaccine_Helene.mp3″ libsyn_item_id=”16080086″ height=”90″ theme=”custom” custom_color=”3e9ccc” player_use_thumbnail=”use_thumbnail” use_download_link=”use_download_link” download_link_text=”Download” /]Helene Cooper has type 1 diabetes, asthma, and she’s Black. All of those factors increase her risks if she catches COVID 19. They’re also exactly what the researchers behind one of the vaccine trials were looking for. She’s now in that Phase 3 Trial and shares what it’s been like.

Check out Stacey’s new book: The World’s Worst Diabetes Mom!

Helene is also a reporter for the New York Times, covering the Pentagon and has an incredible story that began well before she was diagnosed with type 1 at the age of 15. She and her family fled here from Liberia in 1972.

Join the Diabetes Connections Facebook Group!

In Tell Me Something Good, a few high profile birthdays and diaversaries

Our episode with the Dooley Family

Our episode with Dennis Goldensohn

Plus, Innovations – see through is your organizational friend.

Learn more organizing tips from Susan Weiner

This podcast is not intended as medical advice. If you have those kinds of questions, please contact your health care provider.

Sign up for our newsletter here


Use this link to get one free download and one free month of Audible, available to Diabetes Connections listeners!

Get the App and listen to Diabetes Connections wherever you go!

Click here for iPhone      Click here for Android

Episode Transcription:

Stacey Simms  0:00

Diabetes Connections is brought to you by One Drop created for people with diabetes by people who have diabetes by Real Good Foods real food you feel good about eating and by Dexcom take control of your diabetes and live life to the fullest with Dexcom.


Announcer  0:21

This is Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.


Stacey Simms  0:27

This week taking part in a COVID vaccine trial. Reporter Helene Cooper has type one and asthma and says she decided to apply after she met Dr. Anthony Fauci backstage at Meet the Press. She says at first, he wouldn’t really answer her questions about her odds


Helene Cooper  0:44

And finally, he just he was standing by the door to go on air as we weren’t in the same segment. He just stopped at the door. He was like, Look, I’m not saying that you’re a dead duck, but she just really need to not get it. Oh, God, I really need to not get this.


Stacey Simms  1:00

Helene is now in a phase three vaccine trial. She’s a New York Times Pentagon reporter and talks about what it’s been like doing her job and living with T1D during this pandemic

in Tell me something good a couple of high profile birthdays and diversities plus innovations. Why see-through is your organizational friend.

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 the show. I’m so glad to have you along. I’m your host, Stacey Simms. We aim to educate and inspire about type 1 diabetes by sharing stories of connection. My son was diagnosed with type one right before he turned two. That was back in 2006. My husband lives with type two. I don’t have diabetes, I have a background in broadcasting. And that’s how you get the podcast.

There is so much in the news these days about the potential for a COVID vaccine. news about the trials political news about vaccines. This episode is a personal story about one woman’s experience going through one of the vaccine trials. So I just want to let you know about that right up front. And a big thank you to Gillian McPhee, who in the Facebook group Diabetes Connections The Group shared the article that Helene Cooper wrote about her experience getting into the vaccine and a lot of what she shares here on the show, but I will link that up.

I reached out to Helene on Twitter, and she graciously responded. Now Helene has an incredible story, even before she signed up for this trial. I mean, well, before she was diagnosed with type one at the age of 15. She and her family fled here from Liberia. And I’m going to link up that story in the show notes at Diabetes connections.com. It’ll be on the episode homepage. I’d really urge you to read that.

But one of the problems with the vaccine trials was all of the COVID vaccine trials is getting enough people into them. I’m also going to link up more information on that and I’m going to come back after the interview and talk a little bit more about it. I know you want to hear from Helene. And we’ll get to that in just a moment.

But first diabetes Connections is brought to you by One Drop. It is so nice to find a diabetes product that not only does what you need, but also fits in perfectly with your life. One Drop is that it’s the sleekest looking and most modern beater My family has ever used. And it’s not just about their modern meter setup. You can also send your readings to the mobile app automatically and review your data at any time. Instantly share blood glucose reports with your healthcare team. It also works with your Dexcom Fitbit or your Apple Watch. Not to mention they’re awesome test strips subscription plans, pick as many test strips as you need and they’ll deliver them to your door. One Drop diabetes care delivered, learn more, go to Diabetes connections.com and click on the One Drop logo.

My guest this week is doing us all a huge service by participating in one of the trials for the COVID vaccine. As we recorded this interview, Helene Cooper had taken the first shot. She is due for the second in just a few days as this episode airs. Helene is a New York Times Pentagon reporter, but she says that’s not why she was selected. She explains it is because she lives with type one, she has asthma, and she’s black. There are not enough people from any of those groups represented in any of the vaccine trials. I tried to cover a lot with Helene and as this is an ongoing story. She was gracious enough to agree to come back on maybe a couple of weeks that she’s further along and share more about her experience. So here is our talk.

Hello, and thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us about your experience. I really appreciate it.


Helene Cooper  4:35

I’m happy to be here, Stacey. I’ve never been asked to talk to diabetics before. So this is kind of cool.


Stacey Simms  4:40

Oh, nice. Well, I always like to tell guests like you that you don’t explain the difference between type one and type two. We speak the language. We get it. I’m just so interested in so many of your experiences. But let’s start with the COVID vaccine trial that I saw that article came to my attention. How did you get in the trial to be If you could kind of start from the beginning,


Helene Cooper  5:01

okay, I was watching Dr. Fauci on testify, I think it was before the House. It was either July 30, or the 31st. And he said that all of these vaccine trials were getting underway. And he said they needed volunteers. And he rattled off the name of a website that you could go to to volunteer. I don’t know why I did it. But I just went on to the website, and I filled it out. I said, I was type one diabetic, I put that I have asthma I did. I filled everything out and went on about my business. And then a couple of weeks later, I was in the Outer Banks. So it was like, it was somewhere around August 28, the week of august 22 23rd 24, something like that. I got a phone call on my cell phone from GW from a clinical research associate, who said I had been picked for the Maderna trial.

And then I got nervous, because it’s like, it’s one thing when you fill out the questionnaire, and you think they’re never going to call you and then they call, she said that I’ve been picked because I was type one diabetic, they needed to see if the vaccine was safe for people like me, I asked her a lot of questions. Because my first fear that a friend of mine had put in my head was what if they give you the vaccine, and then send you to like a high risk area and ask you to wander around without a mask or anything like that. And I thought, Well, I’m not doing that.

I’ve been super careful for the past six months, because I think we heard pretty early on, I still remember that sinking feeling in my stomach back in February, and March where they started talking about the high risk people and seeing diabetes. And it just said diabetes, it didn’t say type one or type two, which drove me crazy, because it’s like, these are two different diseases. And do they mean but whatever.

When I saw I had run into Dr. Fauci back in on March 8, when I was in the green room for a Meet the Press episode. And the first thing out of my mouth, I walk in, and he was sitting on the chair, and it’s like, wow, look, it’s like I recognized it from TV. And I was I immediately started talking to him about COVID, because that’s what he was there to talk about. And I was like, Well, I’m type one diabetic and blah, blah. I was like, you know, what happens if I get it? And he was like, he kept. He wasn’t beating around the bush. But he kept saying, you need to not get it. And I was like, Yeah, but what happens if I do get it? And he was like, No, you really need to not get it. And he wasn’t he wasn’t answering my question, but not answering my question. And I wanted to know like, okay, most people get it and there’s a 98% chance they’ll be fine. My like a 93% chance or what, exactly what, and finally, he just seems standing by them. He’d walked out the door to go on air, because we weren’t in the same segment. He just stopped at the door. He was like, Look, I’m not saying that you’re a dead duck, but she just really needs to not get it. Oh, God, I really need to not get this.

So I have covered the Ebola pandemic in Liberia. In 2014. I didn’t Liberia for a month during Ebola I and at the time, I understood then that I really needed to not get Ebola as well being a type one diabetic. So I put into place my Ebola protocols. I think I called them on March 8, where I was washing my hands all the time, I was staying away from I stopped touching people. I was I’ve been and I’ve been really careful. I wear masks. I only just now recently stopped wearing gloves everywhere I went that I had been doing that for a while. And nobody’s come into my house except my mom, my sister and my nephew. And brother in law. I’m like, so I’m probably much more careful than most people are. Because I think we kind of have to be because there’s so much we don’t know, I’m just rambling at this point, not letting you ask any questions?


Stacey Simms  8:41

No, it’s wonderful. A lot to unpack there as Yes. So let me go back when you said there’s not a lot of information about type one and type two, we you know, in the community, we’re talking about that all the time.


Helene Cooper  8:52

Yeah. One of the things everybody I’ve asked about it has said they don’t because I went to my normal diabetic doctor, and I was asking her about this. And she said the problem they don’t know. All they know is that the people who showing up in the hospitals and needing to be put on ventilators and leading and having severe reactions and get you know, and you know, getting really sick and dying. A lot of them tend to be diabetics, but then I asked, you know, are they type one are they type two, and they’re certainly type two, but she seemed to think that they’re type ones as well. And that’s what this is based on. This is at this point. There’s so much about Coronavirus that we don’t know COVID-19 that we don’t know. And so the whole high risk category for diabetic that has been determined simply based on the fact that these are the people who are showing up in the hospitals.


Stacey Simms  9:46

So let’s talk about the vaccine trial, get the call.


Helene Cooper  9:49

I get the call. I freak out. I call my friend first I called my normal doctor but she’s very super cautious and her response was like Why does it have to You. So I was like, Okay, I’ll Park this somewhere for a second. And I called my friend, Kendall Marcus, who’s an infectious disease specialist. Her response was immediate, she was like, vaccines are super safe, you should do it. And for Kendall to be just complete, like, usually she’s cautious, too. And she’s like, you got to be careful. But it was just complete. No, you should do it. And so I got a, you know, we talked through it. And she, you know, explained some very complicated sounding stuff about how they work because I thought they were going to be putting a little bit of COVID in me, and but she said that the modern no one was not that is messenger RNA is basically tricking your body into making antibodies by feeding you a little bit of mRNA, that makes your body think that it has COVID. So she was like, there’s no chance that you could catch it from this, when there’s no chance that you could give it to anybody from this.

And so I went, I showed up for my appointment, it was on a Wednesday, they give you it’s, you’re there, I was there for three hours, they gave me a COVID test, the nasal swab, because if it comes back positive, you’re not going to be in the truck, because there’s no point of you being in the truck. They gave me a lot of time, they gave me a full physical, took blood made me take a pregnancy test. There’s all this stuff. And towards the end, then, is when I got the shot where the doctor was like, Okay, you’ve been randomized, you know, the blind woman is like the double the unblinded person is coming. Because of course I hadn’t read they told me all of that in a sheet that they sent me that read talking about that, which is my own fault. And then the nurse came in with the vaccine, and she was not even looking at me and as a reporter, I’m, like, filled with questions. It was like, Are you kidding me? Like, is that what is that? Is that the placebo? Is that the vaccine? Which one? Is it? Going through all of this? I want to make sure I you know, I’m getting the vaccine, I know placebo, and she was just like, you need to just, you know, she said nothing.


Stacey Simms  12:00

Well, yeah, if anybody else knows besides that person, then it can be, it can ruin the whole study!


Helene Cooper  12:07

I got so much s–t from people when I put that in the article that I was harassing the woman about this dude, like you’re violating the sanctity of the study. But it’s just like, you kind of want to know if you got the placebo vaccine. When you posted your story in my facebook group for the podcasts. People were very well they Yeah, not pleased. No.


Stacey Simms  12:30

But I can tell your personality, right? Yes,


Unknown Speaker  12:33

you can laugh. No worries.


Stacey Simms  12:36

One of the questions that actually came up in the Facebook group was whether you were the only person with diabetes in the trial. Now obviously, you don’t know anybody else.


Helene Cooper  12:42

But it was. I am not because ever since I wrote that story I’ve gotten a lot of people have tweeted me, including type one diabetics were in the trial who have been and there’s this one guy who’s been so great, because he’s like, let me tell you what happened to me I’m in the same type of trial. It’s like his was with Pfizer. I think mine is butchering it, but it’s the same technology. And he was like, the first shot felt totally normal, just like you and then the second shot, my sugar level shot up, I was sick for 36 hours and then it went away. And he was like, but it was just as if I had you know, how you get when you’re diabetic with a flu, your sugar level goes high and all that kind of stuff. I was like, that means you got the vaccine. And he was like, well, be careful. You know, because just the cuz you sound like you don’t think you’re You got it, but I didn’t I didn’t think I got it when I got the first shot. And the second shot was like, Huh, so now I’m worried about the second shot.


Stacey Simms  13:32

Well, I was gonna ask you, did you have any kind of reaction blood sugar wise to the first one? Nope, nothing. I mean,


Helene Cooper  13:37

just some aches and pains. Um, some muscle joint, which I don’t, I think was because I was camping on the beach. And I got like the the I got the stuffing pounded out of me by these ferocious waves was


Stacey Simms  13:51

curious if you asked your friend who said what if they give you the vaccine, and then they want you to test it by wandering around a hotspot? I can’t imagine that’s actually part of any clinical trial.


Helene Cooper  14:02

I would think wouldn’t you do that in phase one? It’s not part of phase three. But what’s the What is it? Wouldn’t phase one be remember? Did you see Contagion?


Stacey Simms  14:14

Right. But she did that on her own?


Helene Cooper  14:16

Yeah, but they got it tested some kind of way. How are they going to find out if it works if they don’t see if it works? If they don’t expose people to it? Yeah, shape or form. I mean, he was getting at. I got a lot of grief for that for putting that in the story. But I thought that was a very legitimate question to ask. And as a non medical person, that’s what you’re gonna wonder.


Stacey Simms  14:42

Okay, I’m gonna jump in here for just a couple of minutes. If you are wondering about that point yourself or maybe you are screaming at the two of us in frustration. Here’s the real deal about how they do vaccine trials. Once participants get a vaccine will the researchers intentionally expose them, right? That’s what we’re talking about here. Will the researcher send a lien into a crowd of people as in the movie Contagion? Which, if you haven’t seen it, it’s a 2011 movie. It’s all about if you haven’t guessed, it’s all about a pandemic. There were scientists who worked on that movie and made it very realistic and therefore quite terrifying. But to the question of did they send people who got the vaccine out into infected crowds? No, of course not. That is unethical.

I did a little bit of looking into this. And so here’s what most of the publications say, because there are still no effective therapies to prevent someone exposed to COVID-19. from falling seriously ill intentionally exposing patients is a no go. Instead, the idea is to observe the number and severity of naturally occurring infections. Among the many thousands of volunteer participants who receive vaccines, or placebos. If there are notably fewer infections, or milder infections among the vaccinated group, that’s how they tell the vaccine is working.

So I want you to take a moment and clarify that and we will go right back to my talk with Helene in just a moment. But first, diabetes Connections is brought to you by Real Good Foods. We’ve been enjoying Real Good Foods for almost two years now. And I got to tell you, I think with all of their new products, everything’s great. But the pizza that we started with is really still our favorite. And we got an air fryer A while back. And that has really taken stuff like this to the next level. Although my I shouldn’t say that because my husband still prefers to heat up the pizza, in a frying pan, or saucepan, kill, just heat it up that way. I don’t know, maybe he doesn’t wanna get the air fryer out. But to me, it’s crisp beer, it tastes better, one less pan to wash at the end of the day, you can find out more about where to buy Real Good Foods. Our whole line is available in Walmart and local grocery stores. You can also find everything online, go to Diabetes connections.com and click on the Real Good Foods logo.

Now back to my conversation with Helene, where we are finishing up talking about that movie Contagion. And obviously, that movie was worked on by experts.

Stacey Simms  17:14

We’ve all heard all those stories but I haven’t watched it

since COVID. Started, I can’t bring myself out


Helene Cooper  17:16

a good No, you gotta go do it. I did it. And I like it’ll, it’ll, it’ll make you even more careful.


I watched it in March. I was like, Oh, hell no. Stay. Oh,


Stacey Simms  17:30

I will. Alright, I’ll have to go back and look at that, then what happens? Is it a second shot? And then you’re done? Or do you? I mean, they’ll follow you. But are you done? Not


Helene Cooper  17:38

that they follow you up? Um, there’s an app that you have to answer. The first week, the app was making me answer questions every night, take my temperature and all of that. And then it’s gotten bored with me, and it stopped now. So I haven’t gotten any good. So then you have the second shot. And they follow up with you. They’re supposed to call you every week. And you answer questions on the app, and they just track you. And so presumably, it’s a two year study. But they’re shooting for, you know, a few months. Yeah, very quick.


Stacey Simms  18:11

And because they’re they wanted to look at people specifically with diabetes. Are they also asking you to track blood sugars and things like that? Or they’re just looking for safety?


Helene Cooper  18:19

or remotely related to but which I find curious, because that’s like, they have not the questions or fever, body aches, pains and all of that they didn’t that none of the questions are because the questions are all for the 30,000 people. So they’re no special. I’m not in a special diabetic subgroup. But


Stacey Simms  18:37

it’s interesting, because you are in three subgroups, diabetes, asthma, and being a black person. Yeah. So as you said, they were looking for people, you know, do you know if they were successful trying and this is gonna sound? I mean, I asked this question they were looking for


Helene Cooper  18:53

they I don’t know the answer. They at GW moderna paused its trial to expand it because at first they weren’t getting enough black people. So they went and cast the net, even wider. And I think they believe they’ve now got a representative sampling. The people at GW said that they felt that the sampling that they were doing reflected the city of Washington DC, which means then that they had a high black population.


Stacey Simms  19:18

So listen, you have a job that I assume you cannot do, only from home. No, I can’t Pentagon is your beat.


Helene Cooper  19:25

I’m home a lot. And the Times went to, you know, to send us home back in March, march 13. And they’re really good about that. And I do a lot of my job right now I do at home, but it’s so different. It’s harder, and I do have to go to the Pentagon and I do meet sources. And so I wear the tie I was issued and 95 masks by the times and you know, full, you know, kit, full kit and 95 mask. And when I go to work, like during the protest, for instance, I did some a little bit of that went to the Pentagon when I go to meet for sources and all of that Especially when you’re at the Pentagon where you have to wear a mask in the building. A lot of people don’t wear masks inside their individual offices. I’ve been in to meet with top generals at the Pentagon who have you in the office, but they’re not going to wear a mask, they will take your temperature, but I don’t think I think that’s pointless. Yeah, test your temperature. But once you’re inside, and then they’ll always say, Oh, don’t you can take off your mask if you want, but I never do. And I, that’s when I wear that. And 95 because that will protect me, not just because you wear a mask to protect other people primarily, but the N 95 will protect you.

Even before COVID I’m curious, you know, a high powered career very busy, but also very much in when you work at the Pentagon, you’re not fooling around, I’m curious if you would share a little bit about how you manage type one. Sure, your job, you have a son who’s type one, so you know that it becomes like brushing your teeth, it’s just something you do. I’m testing myself, you know, eight to nine times a day, I’m taking multiple shots a day. And that’s just something and I’ve gotten really used to, I test in front of anybody, I don’t wait, I don’t like you know, I don’t go, my sister laughs at me because I take my shots through my clothing, because sometimes you can’t, you know, the needle, go through your clothing. And if you’re on an aircraft carrier in the middle of something, you don’t have time to go find a bathroom to you know, whatever.

And it’s a long time ago, one of a doctor, Dr. Joshua barzilay, in Atlanta, when I was I just moved down there in my 20s. And he said, you know, you have a choice, you can make the diabetes conform to your life, or you can make your life conform to your diabetes, and I made a choice, I was going to make the diabetes conform to my life. So I’ve done everything I was embedded in with the third infantry division for the Iraq war I was I’ve been, you know, with all special ops groups, you know, behind enemy lines, I do all of that kind of stuff. And I just I keep a tight rein on my sugar levels. But there plenty of times where I have problems, you know, I’ve had insulin reactions, thousands of insulin reactions there. Because if you keep in control, you’re very close to low, right? You know, if you’re keeping between 80 and 120. It’s, I’ve never gotten to the point where I have figured out how to keep between 80 and 120 and not have 60s, you know, you’re running around at 300 400, then yeah, you’re not gonna have insulin reactions. But if you’re keeping in control, then you’re gonna hit lows. And so I hit I hit lows, lucky in that I still feel them. I can tell when it’s coming on. I carry sugar pills around with me everywhere. They’re sugar pills. In every pocketbook. I have their sugar pills in my fanny pack their sugar pills everywhere. And that’s sort of how I deal with it. And so I feel fine. I’ve had it for what I’m 54 years old now. And I got it when I was 15. So that’s a long time. I haven’t had any of the my kidneys are fine. My You know, my eyesight. I can’t see for s–t. But that’s not because I mean,


Stacey Simms  23:11

we’re all wearing glasses.


Helene Cooper  23:12

Yeah. And everything so far, knock on wood looks okay. But it’s something that you just you just deal with you. I mean, which you know, I assume because you’ve got a son who’s just dealing with it.


Stacey Simms  23:23

Do you use any tech? Or have you seen either technology insulin pump CGM, stuff like that, not your style.


Helene Cooper  23:28

I don’t like the pump. I tried the pump. And I didn’t like it. I tried the continuous blood monitor. And I didn’t like it. So I still I use pens. I have a mantra for my long acting, and I’m on human log for my short acting. And then I have the one touch you know, and I it’s five seconds. And it’s really easy. My doctor is so pissed at me because she’s been after me for two and I won’t do it. And every year she’s like, Look, it would be so I tried to Dexcom and I hated it. It’s waking up in the middle of the night and striving you not. And so I stopped after one month. And so she’s I mean, I’m probably gonna fold at some point, but I haven’t pulled it yet.


Stacey Simms  24:06

Well, I wouldn’t call it folding if you want to try it jump into the group or I know you know what you’re doing. But there’s some advice on how


Helene Cooper  24:12

to not make it drive you up a frickin wall. Because it? I mean, yes. Oh, I would like probably that advice, because I think at some point, I’m gonna have to just do it. Well, that’s another story.


Stacey Simms  24:22

Yeah. Tell me about your diagnosis story. You were diagnosed at 15.


Helene Cooper  24:26

Yeah, I my dad was diabetic. And for some reason, I think he was type one. I don’t remember his type one or type two. Because he died in 1985. And I think he was type two, but he was taking insulin regularly and fairly aggressively, which makes me think maybe he was type one and we just didn’t, I don’t know.


Stacey Simms  24:46

So yeah, it’s at that time, too. They didn’t know about Lada and all the other things.


Helene Cooper  24:50

He was diagnosed when he was like 40. So that’s, I think that’s why they But anyway, so that’s a whole nother set. Let’s not get in. Let’s get into what I know. Anyway, My mom, as it turns out, now it’s type two. I’m from Liberia, West Africa. And my family had moved here in 1980. I was living with my dad, my parents had split up. My mom was back in Liberia for a year and we’re living my sister and I were living with our dad in North Carolina and Greensboro. And I started running to the bathroom and being thirsty all the time. I was like, 15. Then I was a junior in high school, and I started dropping weight. I was skinny. But then I got really skinny. But I thought I was but I was eating. I was so hungry all the time. And I was convinced I had blown up because I was eating like seven meals a day, and horribly hungry. And in the middle of night, I was going downstairs and drinking apple juice and eating food. And I was like, I have to be so fat. Why am I eating like this? And my mom showed up to visit us and she came to the house Liberia and she my dad came to the school to surprise me because we didn’t know my mom was coming. And they came to the school to surprise me. And they got me out of my class. And I go running. I was like, why are you living with me? And he’s not noticing because you’re seeing the person every day


to the doctor, and I was diagnosed and I was ended up in the hospital for a week in pediatrics.


At 15 I was very outraged that they put me Yeah, true. Yeah,


Stacey Simms  26:27

I bet but they’re also at 15. You have no sense of your body, right? Your thumb. Oh, yeah, I’m eating


Helene Cooper  26:33

That’s amazing. Yeah, I was so convinced that I was a pig. I was like that it was like all whatever. But anyways, so that’s when, and so I remember they put me on this is so far long ago is like the 80s. They put me on these three different types of insulin to start x rapid, semi tard, some other top monitored, and I was having instant reactions and then shooting up and they were trying to I would take one shot in the morning. And that was it. And I couldn’t get it under control. I was I was hungry all the time. Because they had they started me on too much insulin. And so I was hungry and eating. And it was just really it was bad. And I was only testing that’s back when you would test with urine. Yeah, this is all before, this is a long time ago. And so I took my insulin, but that was all I would do. I would take my insulin in the morning, but then I ate whatever I want it. And so I was completely out of control. And it took years for me to get my act together. I mean, I went through college, you know, I feel like on a wing and a prayer, I took my insulin. So I never got went to the point where I didn’t take my insulin, but there was a lot of but I was eating whatever I literally whatever I want it. And it wasn’t like it was that much. But it was like you need to be 10. And I wasn’t testing I would go like here and test myself. And then when I got out of college, I started a job in Providence, Rhode Island. And I was working out a lot then. So things my sugar level was probably much better in was lower, but I was having insulin reactions all the time. And then when I moved to Atlanta, and I met this doctor barzilay. And that’s when he told me you can do this, or you can do that. And what he did for me that was the most important thing was if you are comfortable with taking multiple injections a day, and with testing yourself all the time, you can do what you want. And that was the that was the breakthrough for me.


Stacey Simms  28:30

Right? Well, somebody gives you a plan of action, rather than saying, here’s the older insulins that really don’t work to your life. Here’s a man. No, you followed that.


Helene Cooper  28:39

Yeah, better. No, it was great. Because once it’s like, once I realized it was like if I know a knowledge is power, he if you’re willing to take the shot, it’s nothing I don’t, it doesn’t bother me. And testing my blood sugar doesn’t bother me. And if he sees like, if you’re willing to do that you can do you can live the way you want to live. So it’s great.


Stacey Simms  28:59

Before I let you go, I’d love to talk a little bit more about the clinical trial. Okay. very beginning of it. Are you so far happy that you did it?


Helene Cooper  29:07

Yeah, I’m happy I did it. I want to be part of you know, I want to be part of the solution. No, I’ve none of us want to keep this going for it’s like, we’re all shut in and we want it over to right. And it’s at some point with the you know, we’re gonna have to take a vaccine anyway. So yeah, I’m glad I did it. Whether it’s a placebo or a vaccine, I’d be if I dropped dead from it. I won’t be glad but that I’m gonna be glad I did it. Right.


Stacey Simms  29:33

Well, there was a lot of skepticism. Yeah, people of all political persuasions, yes. races of all disease states. I mean, let’s be clear, not singling anybody out here.


Helene Cooper  29:43

Any message for people listening who may have an opportunity like that to take part in a clinical trial and are hesitant follow the iron. You know, that’s I’m I’m a big believer in science. So that’s, I’m divorcing myself from the politics. I you know, the whole vaccine by election. De that’s not even going to happen. That’s irrelevant, you know, even if they have somebody, at most be an announcement, but that’s not going to mean anything. And that’s meaningless, you know. And so just stick to the just follow science. If we follow science, we’d be better off on COVID to begin with, and science is certainly what’s keeping me alive. So,


Stacey Simms  30:19

next step for you is the second part of the vaccine. And then maybe we can follow up with you in a couple of months if that’s okay. Happy to wonderful


Helene Cooper  30:28

and I’ll be complaining that death they definitely gave me the placebo.


Stacey Simms  30:32

And I can give you my review of contagion.


Helene Cooper  30:34

My re review. Okay, you if you watch contagion, I will come on your show again. Alright, we’ll do I’ve


Stacey Simms  30:39

seen it, but it’s been a very long time. So we watch it. Oh, you


Unknown Speaker  30:43

won’t sleep that night.


Stacey Simms  30:44

I don’t sleep now. Helene, thank you so much for joining me. It was a real pleasure and so interesting, I appreciate it.


Helene Cooper  30:51

It was fun talking to you, Stacey.


Unknown Speaker  30:57

You’re listening to Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.


Stacey Simms  31:03

More information about the Vaccine trials and about Helene story at Diabetes connections.com. Just click on this episode, click on the homepage for it. There is a transcript we do that for every episode starting this year, really excited about that people seem to really like it. And I started that in January of 2020. And I’ll continue to do that.

I’m also going to link up one of the many articles about the difficulty that scientists have had and researchers have had in recruiting black volunteers and other people of color to take part in these trials. And something to keep in mind is that the National Institutes of Health has suggested minorities be overrepresented in the testing at rates that are doubled for their percentage of the US population. So there’s a lot more information on this as to why and how historically black medical institutions are getting involved. I thought that was very important.

You know, of course, we’re looking at this through the lens of type 1 diabetes. But this is something that as you listen, I think it’s important to be aware of as well. And boy, do I appreciate her coming on and sharing her story. the good, the bad, the ugly, she got a lot of pushback, as you heard for that article. And I will follow up in a couple of weeks. And I’m assuming she will have the same amount of candor. Next time we talk.

Tell me something good in just a moment. But first diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dexcom. And you know, we started using control IQ that is the Dexcom G6 Tandem pump software program back in late January of this year, and we’re doing less work for better results. I’ll say that again. less work better results with diabetes. And I say we but it really is all Benny at this point. I mean, he’s 15. And you know, you think about when we first got the CGM just to show up on the pump. What was that 2017. And that was a cool feature, but it didn’t do anything right. But that secret sauce in the control IQ that keeps Benny in range so much more. It really lightens the burden. I think that’s the best way to describe it is a one C has come down it was already really good. We’re just thrilled. Of course individual results may vary. To learn more, go to Diabetes connections.com and click on the Dexcom logo.


In Tell me something good this week. We have some fun things to share diversities and birthdays. A very, very happy birthday to the Dooley family and I’m going to wish a happy birthday to the whole family because parents Christina and Greg celebrating with their triplets, Mia, Isa and Max. And I cannot believe that these kids are 10 years old. You may know the Dooley’s better. As the Inspired by Isabella family. Isabella was diagnosed with type one as a toddler. And she and her family have just been a huge part of the diabetes online community of friends for life. So many things. And boy, these kids are just knocking it out of the park, each with their own personality and strengths of course and different hobbies. But they all really seem to come together to support Isa. Christina is one of these very creative moms. She does all the stuff that I never did or dreamed of doing. You know very crafty, very, very fun with costumes, lots of lawn stuff going on since they’ve been stuck at home I mean this 10th birthday. I’ll see if she’ll put a picture too in the Facebook group but you know number 10s all over their lawn and big cutouts for the kids hobbies. So a big Happy Birthday to the Dooley triplets to Mia Isa and Max.

A big congratulations and a big diversity to Dennis Goldensohn. Dennis is a longtime listener and I first talked to him he’s been on the show. I talked to him about reaching the age of 65 when Medicare kicks in, and we talked when he had just finished his first year on Medicare so I will link that up but I mentioning him now because he is celebrating 50 Two years of type 1 diabetes. And he posted in the Facebook group he has that Lilly medal that they give for, you know, for big milestones.

And he wrote, Hey, everybody, thanks because he was getting a lot of really nice comments about it. The objective here is not to brag about an award, but to say yes, it is possible to live with T1D and live a productive and long life. Now that is worth bragging about and what is really possible lead by example, Dennis is also very active in JDRF. I was gonna say his local chapter, but I think we’re all one chapter now in North Carolina. So he’s in the Raleigh area, I’m in the Charlotte area, but he’s also active as a mentor. And I really appreciate it. So congratulations, Dennis. Here’s to many more healthy years. And thanks for sharing that with us.

My episode last week with Jeannie Martin, who was diagnosed in the 1950s and has lived with type one for 66 years got a lot of attention. And it was it was just very well received. I mean, why not? She’s fantastic. And I heard from other people who have lived with type one for a long time, who shared their stories. And Ron Doyle is one of those. He was diagnosed at age four in 1959. I am living life well. I’m a full time employee at age 65. I’m going to retire in my 70s. My Doc’s told my parents, I would likely be dead before age six, but it’s been a great life. And he writes, I still have all my toes at other important extremities. And Ron also shared I showed him an email back and said, Hey, thanks so much. Can I share this? And he replied, absolutely. Most people do all the good news they can get. He works full time as an IT guy, and he has a monthly radio show on tech. I’m going to link this up because his podcast, he says is tech for us gray hairs like me, I like to stay busy, Ron writes, and I will link up gray haired tech because I don’t have any gray hair yet, Ron, but I probably could benefit from your podcast. And I’ll put that in the show notes as well.

If you have a good news story, a diversity of birthday something cool, you’ve done a big milestone you know, a marathon or you’ve you’ve got up Mount Everest, whatever you want to share with the community. Just reach out and let me know you can always find to be Stacey at Diabetes connections.com. Or you can post in the Facebook group every once in a while I will ask for more good news stories. I love hearing from you. Thank you so much.


My new segment innovation is all about tips and tricks, listener suggestions to make life a little bit easier with diabetes. And sometimes the innovations are big clinical trials approvals, that sort of thing. This week, I want to talk a little bit about organization with a great bit of advice I got from Susan Wiener. She is very well known in the diabetes community. She was the 2015 Diabetes Educator of the Year she’s a registered dietician nutritionist, a certified diabetes educator, she’s, she’s the best I love Susan, I’m lucky enough to call her a friend. One of the things that she told me and she has a great book too. It’s called the complete diabetes organizer. And well, that book has so much advice in it, we’re just gonna focus on one little thing here.

And that is being able to see what you’ve got in terms of diabetes supplies. So if that means you’re taking the stuff out of the box doesn’t mean we know we get pump supplies or Dexcom supplies or even insulin, it’s in a box that you cannot see through. So her advice is to put it in a clear plastic box so you can see from the outside. Or if you really can’t tell at least Mark what it is on the outside, you know, tape a piece of paper and use a sharpie and write on it or use a clear plastic shoe bag, you can put individual supplies there. I’ve seen people put snacks in it so the kids can get what they want, you know carb counted, snacks are separated, you know, however you want to do in your household, but everybody can see. And the one thing I would add to that is whatever you do if you’re taking your diabetes supplies out of boxes, and I do this because I also use

Gosh, speaking of organized, here’s a little plug I use the T1Dgear, folks, there’s a really wonderful small homegrown business, and they do 3d printing. And I’ll link that up in the show notes as well but I use their stuff a lot. But you have to take everything out of the box, you’ve got to keep the labels if you need the lot number if you have an issue if you need the serial number of your Dexcom you know all this stuff. So if you don’t have room to keep the actual boxes, and you’re not a big like Ripper offer, a lot of people hate to keep those little strands of paper, you know, like I’ll just shoot I’ll rip off the front where it has all of the information or cut it out neatly. I don’t cut anything neatly, I clawed off like an animal. But you could also take a photo, take a picture with your phone have the lot number and all of the information.

And that way you’ll know what goes with what and that way if you have to call in a Dexcom replacement or you have a box of pump in sets that are not working correctly. You’ll have the information in front of you and you can call it in it’s all well and good to get organized. But if you can’t see when you’re running out of something, and then I know the people with little kids don’t get it yet, but when your teenager uses the left decks calm and doesn’t tell you and leaves The box in the storage area, right or uses the last pump inset, and just hasn’t said anything. I didn’t realize it was the last one. That’s where the yoga and meditation comes in. So you can use these tips maybe to avoid those kinds of situations. And thanks again to Susan Wiener. I’ll link up that episode to Gosh, I think it’s about two years, maybe longer. Now, since we’ve talked, it was a great episode about getting diabetes organized. I love her.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Diabetes Connections. We have a lot of great stuff coming up. In fact, I have so much, I might have just more bonus episodes. I don’t know I’m sifting through personal stories and sports stories and technology stuff. It seems like towards the end of the year, you know, we take a breath in August and the beginning of September, and then it’s just a race to December. And that’s how it’s going this year. So I’ll keep you posted. But please join the Facebook group. That’s where I put most of my questions for you and pulling in that sort of stuff. Thank you to my editor John Bukenas from audio editing solutions. Thank you so much as you listen, I’m Stacey Simms. I’ll see you back here next week. Until then, be kind to yourself.


Benny  41:11

Diabetes Connections is a production of Stacey Simms Media. All rights reserved. All rounds avenged

Find out more about Moms’ Night Out 

Please visit our Sponsors & Partners – they help make the show possible!

Learn more about Gvoke Glucagon Gvoke HypoPen® (glucagon injection): Glucagon Injection For Very Low Blood Sugar (gvokeglucagon.com)

Omnipod – Simplify Life

Learn about Dexcom 

Edgepark Medical Supplies

Check out VIVI Cap to protect your insulin from extreme temperatures

Learn more about AG1 from Athletic Greens 

Drive research that matters through the T1D Exchange

The best way to keep up with Stacey and the show is by signing up for our weekly newsletter:

Sign up for our newsletter here

Here’s where to find us:

Facebook (Group)

Facebook (Page)



Check out Stacey’s books!

Learn more about everything at our home page www.diabetes-connections.com 

Reach out with questions or comments: info@diabetes-connections.com