Cold Weather and Type 1 Diabetes: Tips to Get You to Spring


One of my favorite winter activities is ice fishing. I recently caught this black crappie in 23 feet of water using a minnow and bobber. The temperature that day in northern Minnesota was -30 below! My fish was a delicious, blood-sugar friendly meal, too!

I pride myself on being a resident expert on cold weather and snow. After all, I was born and raised in northern Minnesota where just this last week temperatures dropped to -60! I have 33 years of experience living in cold weather, and 20 years managing type 1 diabetes in this climate.

Here are my top 5 blood sugar management tips to help you get through these tough months: ❄️☃️

Click here to read the full blogpost:

Dating Advice: What’s Love Got to Do with Diabetes?

together-forever-abby-orcutt-78650-unsplashLast week, a post from a type 1 diabetes Facebook group popped into my feed. A mother had posted that her 7thgrade daughter would soon be attending her first school semi-formal and this prompted a conversation about dating. The teenager told her mom she wasn’t planning on dating when she’s older.

When the mother pressed her to explain the daughter replied, “Seriously, mom, who am I going to date? If I go out with another T1D, we’ll burn each other out talking about blood sugars, insulin, stupid random stuff that happens. On the other hand, I don’t want to date someone who knows nothing about type 1 diabetes because I’d have to train them about all the stuff that could go wrong and if something DOES go wrong it might freak them out. And, after all that, they still might not get that diabetes is something I can’t just ignore because I’m with them. It’s just so depressing.”
As I read this, it reminded me of when I was 13 and recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I felt like a black sheep. I was convinced that no guy would want to date me because I’d be such a burden to him. I struggled with this idea throughout my teens and my young adult years.
But today, I’m in my early 30s and my thinking has changed.


I have some advice for this teenager, as well as my 13-year-old self. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years:


To read the rest of my blogpost for On Track Diabetes, click here:

Hitting the Slopes with Type 1: The Nystrom’s Share Their Top 10 Tips

skiingblog2In January I got the chance to leave the man-made hills of Minnesota and head to Colorado and Utah for some real ski mountains.

My brother Will, who also has type 1 diabetes, hosted me in his adopted home state of Colorado. He’s had T1D for 22 years and has managed his blood sugar the old-fashioned way—with multiple daily injections (aka MDI). I prefer using technology to aid my diabetes management and have used an insulin pump for more than a decade—since I was 16.

If you’re hitting the slopes this winter, here’s what we’ve learned over the years about blood sugar, cold temperatures and exercise. We are not medical professionals but you may benefit from our practical advice.

To read our tips click here for my On Track Diabetes blogpost…

The Real Story Behind my Book

Today I celebrate the five-year anniversary of my book, “If I Kiss You, Will I Get Diabetes?”, being published. This is one of my greatest professional achievements. Not just because the book will be going on it’s 3rd print next month, but because of the hurdles that I had to overcome to even get it printed.

bookpicYou see, if I only posted the good things, it leaves out why this book means so much to me and why my mother was in such shock and tears when I surprised her with it early on New Year’s Eve.

Three years before the book was published, I quit my full-time sales job because I was battling with bulimia, and it had overtaken my life. Inpatient and outpatient treatment just weren’t cutting it for me. I kept relapsing. In 2012 I took the drastic step to go out-of-state to a residential treatment facility and then a halfway house to transition out. I was away for nine months. When I returned in late 2012, and was in a healthy place of recovery I felt this call to write this book. It was so compelling to me that I sold my house in South Minneapolis, cashed out my 401K account, moved back to my hometown in my parent’s basement and found a job at night working as a waitress so I could write during the day. I just had a feeling this book was going to get published. Unfortunately, no one in the publishing world agreed with me, or even in the diabetes publishing world. I was crushed. But I kept waitressing and I kept writing.

One night at the place I waitressed at, Cru at Grand View Lodge, a nice family asked me about the insulin pump that I was wearing on my belt buckle. I told them I had type 1 diabetes and that I moonlighted as a waitress, but that I was writing this book about what life is actually like with a chronic, incurable illness. His wife looked right at me and said, “Quinn, you just got your golden ticket. My husband is the General Counsel of one of the largest diabetes companies in the world.” I couldn’t believe it. He turned to me and said, “Can you bring the first three chapters of your book to me tomorrow night?” That next night I brought him the chapters in a manila envelope. The following night he told me his wife and him absolutely loved it and it was something they’ve never read in the diabetes world and he wanted to order 500 copies right away for his staff. I told him I didn’t have it published yet. He told me I better get going on it because he wanted to give them out for gifts! Curt and Lisa were like angels to me. They believed in my book when so many others had not, and they had the power to make something happen with it. The picture of me in the bottom right is me signing each and every one of the copies for his staff. Him and his wife became great friends of mine, and went on to order a lot more copies over the years.

I learned a two very important lessons five years ago, and I hope that if you haven’t experienced them in your life yet, you will eventually. 1. Defeat isn’t permanent, it’s temporary. Yes, I felt like I had hit rock bottom when I was going in and out of treatment facilities and then had to quit a great job, move back in with my parents and then waitress to make ends meet, but that lasted for only a short period. 2. If you believe in something enough, never let go of it, fight for it, hold on to it, because it will eventually happen for you. My mother knew all the ups and downs of my years of struggling with an eating disorder, getting the rejection letters from publishers and diabetes organizations and companies, and then finally getting to see me get my golden ticket while waitressing.

If you haven’t read my book and are interested in getting a copy, click here:

The FDA Finally Has a Plan to Reduce the Cost of Insulin

cost-of-insulin-75881258_MSome of you may have heard the news that came out from the FDA Commissioner about news impacting lowering insulin prices. When I read the statement initially, there was a lot of medical jargon in there for me. So for my latest blogpost for OnTrack Diabetes I asked my pharmacist Dad to help decode it to find out if we will really see a benefit from these changes. Read it below….

Losing Alec


Nicole & Alec

The price of insulin in the US has more than doubled since 2012. As a result, the cost of this life-saving hormone is out of reach for many people with diabetes. Some try to make it last longer by rationing the expensive substance—putting their lives at risk.
Alec Smith tragically lost his life in June 2017, a few weeks after his 26th birthday, from a condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis—a consequence of dangerously high blood sugar. His family believes he had been rationing insulin in an attempt to make it to his next payday when he would have the money to purchase more.
Nicole Smith-Holt, Alec’s mother, shares her son’s sad story and explains what can be done to combat this troubling problem.

Listen to the podcast interview here:

What I Saw at the #Insulin4All Rally

Alec Raeshawn Smith. Shane Patrick Boyle. Antavia Lee Worsham. Seely Weatherell. Danielle DeShae Dunbar. What do these five people have in common? They’ve all lost their lives because of the outrageous cost of insulin in the United States. Sadly, they are just a few of the names of people who’ve died in recent years, as the cost of insulin continues to soar.

As I mentioned in my previous post, my insulin cost around $20 when I first started using it in 1999. Today that same vial is $395 and I go through 2 vials in a month. And this is just ONE of my diabetes prescriptions.

protest4Over the years I’ve become increasingly more passionate about this topic so when I heard the call to join in the #Insulin4all Rally being held on the grounds of pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lilly and organized by T1International and People of Faith for Access to Affordable Medicines, I booked my plane ticket.

Ever since my brother Will was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes nearly 23 years ago (a few years before I was diagnosed), I’ve been convinced that if we want to see a change we must be willing to show up and have our voices heard.

To read my full blogpost click below…

Why We Should All Protest the High Cost of Insulin

Imagine getting diagnosed with a life-changing, incurable disease at the age of t13 that you had nothing to do with. That’s what happened to me. My first thought was…

My life is over.

Next, the doctor tells me that I would need to inject—inject!—a medicine called insulin that would serve as my life support because my pancreas is broken and has stopped producing insulin on its own.

I absolutely hate needles. 

It was an emotional, overwhelming and confusing time for me. The good news is my father is a pharmacist, so he took care of my prescriptions.

ADV_Insulin_Petition_Insulin_isnt_optional_FACEBOOK_1200X628-V2-1030x539Back in 1999 my insulin vial cost around $20. Fast forward 19 years. Today, my insulin cost $395 a vial! I go through a vial about every two weeks. And this is just ONE of my prescriptions for diabetes.

This vial of insulin has not changed in its formulary, the price has simply increased. Like many Americans, I also have insurance with a high-deductible, so in the beginning months of the year, I’m stuck paying thousands of dollars out-of-pocket until I hit my out-of-pocket max. I am basically a cash cow for pharmaceutical companies, pharmacy benefit managers, pharmacies, insurance companies, etc. But I’m kind of stuck—they know I rely on insulin to stay alive so I have to buy it.  Insulin is not optional for me.

How You Can Get Involved in the Fight Against High Prices 

This is why I’m flying to Indianapolis this weekend to protest these practices—along with many other fierce, fellow diabetes advocates—on the grounds of Eli Lilly for the #insulin4all demonstration.

Read the rest of my blogpost here…


Steel Magnolias: Why I Hate This Movie

I have a dear friend from college whose favorite movie is the 1989 classic Steel Magnolias. I remember her popping in the DVD (this was before Netflix) and everyone gathering around with their popcorn like it was yesterday.

juliaTo refresh your memory, the movie tells the dramatic real-life story of Shelby (played by Julia Roberts) and her mother M’Lynn (played by Sally Fields) as they fight to save Shelby’s life. Against the advice of her doctor, Shelby—who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant—decides to go through with the life-threatening pregnancy. I had never seen the movie and I sat in horror as I watched it for the first time. Why did I bawl my head off throughout the story?

Read my full blogpost for On Track Diabetes…

Pilots With Diabetes Set New World Record: 29 States in 24 Hours

pilots-preparefortakeoff-Dexcom-planeDid you know that there are only eight countries that allow people with diabetes to be commercial airline pilots? Most countries find it to be too much of a liability. I recently got to interview two inspiring men who have type 1, are pilots, and recently beat the previously-set world flying record of landing in 23 states in 24 hours!

Read my interview with them for On Track Diabetes on how they’re breaking down stigmas in the aviation world.