Winning at Life with T1D

I was 10 years old when I was diagnosed with diabetes. Back when I was that young, there was no blood sugar testing or HbA1C test. Pork insulin and urine testing were the norm for any person living with diabetes in those days. With so few resources, education became critical. So I went to a summer camp  called “Camp NYDA.” The camp was for children with diabetes and designed for fun and education.

This eventually lead me on the path to becoming a registered dietitian (RD) and nutritionist because I quickly learned that food and diabetes go hand and hand. What I didn’t realize is that managing a diet was not easy – it changed at various times in my life and especially when I had my first baby.

Being a Mom with Diabetes
Having a child while having diabetes with few devices to help you was a huge challenge. I didn’t think I could have children, but sure enough I did! When I was pregnant, blood glucose meters were available and I tested 12 times a day. Most pregnant women are extra vigilant about health and with diabetes it became critical for me. I was already taking daily insulin injections before my pregnancy, so I stayed on injections throughout my pregnancy and one year afterward when I started breastfeeding. I wasn’t in control and I started having severe low blood sugar episodes. Ultimately, my doctor advised me to start insulin pump therapy. Getting trained on my first pump was illuminating and felt like my first “real” education about diabetes. It made so much sense to me that it subsequently became my career path.

Carbohydrate to insulin ratio, insulin sensitivity factor, basal and bolus insulin were all new and it changed my life! Armed with this knowledge, I became a pump trainer for a diabetes pump company and was mentored by a nurse practitioner who was also a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE). She taught me so much about diabetes, knowledge that I did not know despite having diabetes and being a registered dietitian for many years.

Becoming a CDE
My mentor was also the one who encouraged me to get my CDE and become a Certified Diabetes Educator Registered Dietitian (CDE RD). In case you are wondering, in order to become a CDE, you need to be licensed in a healthcare profession, i.e. registered dietitian, registered nurse, social worker, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, pharmacist, etc. The requirements also include documentation of 1,000 hours of providing education and care for people with diabetes (PWDs). Once the hours are completed, you take a comprehensive knowledge exam and if you pass, you receive your certification for 5 years, after which you need to renew by taking an exam or taking continuing education units (CEUs) in diabetes.

Many say that the best way to become an expert is to teach. Well, becoming a CDE gave me that opportunity in spades. Being an RD and having Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) ends up being the perfect combination to enable me to support others with diabetes because I naturally understood their challenges and questions because I had them too!

After some time at a pump company, I ultimately joined Diasend and now with the Glooko/Diasend merger, work for Glooko in a sales role. I use my credentials and experiences everyday to educate clinicians on how data management and analytics can help them provide better care and be more efficient at the same time. I love what I do because I get to meet so many people with diabetes and their diabetes care teams and when I present to a group of clinicians or PWDs what Glooko does, they are all so excited and that brings me tremendous joy! Specifically, our office solution gives us the opportunity to solve a huge problem in the busy diabetes practitioner’s office by allowing them to quickly and easily access data from many of the most popular diabetes devices on the market and review reports that enable them to support their patients.  

Fulfilling my Goals
Last year, I was awarded the AADE (American Association of Diabetes Educators) Industry CDE of the Year. Not only was it an honor, but it made me realize that being able to combine selling with educating and solving issues in the diabetes care space using my passion and knowledge really works! I feel lucky that my life’s work is to spread awareness of the importance of data and knowledge to people with diabetes and care teams. That is how I win at life with T1D!

Roni Pagano

Roni Pagano is an RD CDE living with T1D and works for Glooko as the East Coast Clinical Uploading Solutions Sales Representative. During her spare time, she likes to take her two dogs to the dog park, and sip an iced coffee on the beach.