UC Health Employee Refuses to Let Diabetes Define Her


November can mean a lot of things. Tailgates. Fall weather. Thanksgiving.

Something most people do not realize, however, is that November is also Diabetes Month. The American Diabetes Association indicates that more than 30 million Americans have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, and it is becoming an increasingly more common disease nationwide.

“In the United States, diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death, and the number of people with diabetes is on the rise,” said Colin Carracher, MD, UC Health endocrinologist subspecializing in diabetes and assistant professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. “Uncontrolled diabetes can cause several health complications affecting nearly every organ system in the body.”

Diabetes can take a toll, both mentally and physically, in many different ways for patients. It is a complex diagnosis, which is why patients have to learn what works best for them in order to help manage the disease.

Managing diabetes can be a taxing experience, however, but it is one that a UC Health employee, Hannah Vester, embraces rather than fights.

“I was in high school when I found out I had diabetes,” said Hannah. “But I wasn’t going to let diabetes define me, and it definitely isn’t going to stop me from doing what I want to do.”

By January 2011, at the age of 16, Hannah was a talented competitive swimmer, competing against the top swimmers in the Tristate with the goal to swim for a Division I school. With a conference championship around the corner, she found herself swimming sluggishly and losing 25 pounds despite the fact that she ate 3,000 calories a day. Something was off.

Hannah’s father, a heart surgeon, took her to the emergency room, where they diagnosed her with Type 1 diabetes.

“Type 1 diabetes is caused by the body’s own immune system attacking and destroying insulin-producing cells in the pancreas,” said Dr. Carracher. “The treatment for Type 1 diabetes is insulin.”

Insulin is a hormone that allows sugars to enter cells to help create energy. When this is compromised, complications arise. For Hannah, this meant a stay in the ICU for about three and a half days to receive the insulin care she needed.

“Diabetes is completely manageable,” said Hannah. “You just have to take the time to do it. For me, it was a bump in the road, and now it’s just something I have to do to take care of myself. Other than that, I do everything I want to in life.”

After receiving insulin care in the ICU, Hannah jumped back into the pool the following weekend to compete in the conference championships—and she won. She went on to win state with her high school team, then competed as a Division I college athlete at the College of William and Mary. She now works at UC Health as a senior clinical researcher and is applying to medical school.

Hannah quickly learned how to administer insulin care herself, something that she still manages today. Currently, she uses a continuous glucose monitor that monitors her blood glucose without needing to prick her fingers.

“There is no right way to do diabetes. You just have to do what is right for you,” said Hannah.

Free Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support

UC Health offers free education and support from experts who aim to help inform the newly diagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes. The education program provides the knowledge and skills needed to successfully manage diabetes and maintain good health. Following topics include:

• What is diabetes?
• How do I monitor my blood sugar at home?
• How do I manage high or low blood sugar levels?
• How does exercise help diabetes?
• What are healthy meal planning tips?
• How can I prevent complications?
• What medication options are available?
• What happens to my diabetes when I am ill?
• How can I set healthy goals for myself?

NOTE: These sessions require a referral from your healthcare provider. Please talk to your healthcare provider if you are interested in attending.

If you have any questions or need to set an appointment, please call UC Health at 513-475-7400.

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