Diabetes Advocate is Motivation for "Channeling JeVonda" Phrase

Today, we’re excited to share her story to help our D-Community get to know JeVonda better!

An Interview with Diabetes Advocate JeVonda Flint

DM) To start, could you introduce yourself to DiabetesMine readers?

JF) My name is JeVonda Flint and I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, and currently live in Memphis, Tennessee. I’m 38 years old and have been teaching high school math for 15 years. I’m currently single and don’t have kids. My younger sister is a doctor and dean at the University of Michigan.

When did diabetes enter your life?

I was 30 years old when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I’d lost a ton of weight, was drinking a lot of water, using the bathroom a lot and had other classic symptoms of diabetes but kept ignoring them. I went from an athletic 5’9” and 160 pounds down to 118 pounds, and I looked anorexic.

I actually went to the ER because my finger hurt (snagged a hangnail and it was infected and swollen). As sick as I was, I would’ve headed to work if it wasn’t for my finger. They took one look at me and asked if I was anorexic or diabetic and I answered no to both questions. They took me in and ran my blood tests and came back and told me that I have type 1 diabetes. My blood sugar was over 1340 and my A1C was 17.2, so I went straight to ICU. I ended up having a staph infection in my finger that they were doing wound care on, but all of the tissue on the top of my finger was dead. So I had a partial index finger amputation just four days after I was diagnosed with type 1. I left the hospital ten days later with a PICC line (skin catheter) and was administering IV antibiotics daily from home for the next seven weeks and doing occupational therapy in addition to learning about living with type 1 diabetes.

Wow, that’s quite a traumatic diagnosis story! How do you currently manage your diabetes?

I actually started Omnipod (tubeless insulin pump) just three weeks after I was diagnosed. I had a type 1 student on Omnipod that year and knew that’s what I wanted. My doctor suggested Dexcom (continuous glucose monitor) for me about four years later because my A1Cs were around 5.4 and he was concerned about lows. No other pump or CGM for me, just nine years on Omnipod and four and a half years on Dexcom.

Many DOC’ers have come to know you as a pump/sensor site guru… What’s your inspiration in trying new sites and have you had any issues with these “off- label” placements?

I have eczema and sensitive skin, so the pods were breaking me out in itchy rashes when placed on my stomach and back. So I relied on my arms a lot and they started to hurt to insert there, so I knew I needed more spots. I just slowly started branching out and trying spots. I’ve never had an issue wearing the devices near each other; I face the pod cannula away from the Dexcom sensor to help with spacing. The only spots I won’t use are my stomach and lower back because they itch too much there. Absorption is great everywhere for me, I just prefer them on limbs for comfort.

How does it make you feel when people say that they’re “channeling JeVonda” in trying new things?

What value do you get out of being active online with social media?

What made you want to be a teacher?

I actually started out as a biology/pre-med major in college and planned to be a doctor. Then I changed my major to Mathematics and Computer Information Systems. I was finishing my Master’s degree in math and a friend asked me to teach for a year at her school, and I liked it and stuck with it. I’m teaching Algebra 2 and Calculus this year.

Does diabetes interfere or come into play when you’re in the classroom?

Thanks to Omnipod, Dexcom and my Apple Watch, my diabetes has been pretty easy to manage while teaching. My students are used to beeping and ask if I’m OK and offer me snacks. I easily grab a snack or some juice if I’m low or take insulin without missing a beat. I have two type 1 students in my classes this year and had four last year. My high school is large, about 2,200 students, and I’ve had at least one student with type 1 every year since I was diagnosed in 2010.

You’ve shared some things in the past related to diabetes and dating. Can you comment on that?

I’ve always had positive attitudes and questions from others when dating or just in friendships. My last relationship was with a type 2 diabetic, so lots of support from both sides. I’m open with my type 1, have a tattoo on my wrist and my devices are usually on display, so people I’ve gone out with already know about my type 1 and it’s never an issue. They are curious and always ask questions and seem eager to learn. My advice is to be open about it and don’t be ashamed or afraid. I treat it like any other everyday thing I do, so there is no big deal made about it.

What diabetes technology are you most interested in?

I’m waiting on the Dexcom and Omnipod interaction. There is not much else I could ask for as far as technology. I love that they are constantly developing and trying to improve the technology though. I just wish the diabetes technology wasn’t so expensive and was readily available to everyone.

Finally, what advice would you share with someone who’s newly diagnosed?

Thanks for sharing your story and doing what you do, JeVonda!

This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a leading consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community that joined ishonest Media in 2015. The Diabetes Mine team is made up of informed patient advocates who are also trained journalists. We focus on providing content that informs and inspires people affected by diabetes.

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