Sierra Sandison Miss Idaho 2014

There are many that have inspired us in the Diabetes World, but I have to say that Sierra Sandison, Miss Idaho 2014 inspired the entire diabetes community when she so proudly displayed her Insulin Pump during the swimsuit competition.  Sierra's amazing comfort with her self and her pump are a true inspiration to all of us.  Sierra's campaign #showmeyourpump has given everyone a reason to stand up and be heard. 

I am honored to have had the pleasure to interview Sierra for this Featured Inspiration and I know you will enjoy her candid and caring answers.

           Uploaded Image: /uploads/Featured Inspirations/Miss Idaho 1.JPGQuestion: 

How old were you when you were diagnosed (what's your story)?

Miss Idaho: 

I have actually only had diabetes for 2 ½ years! I was diagnosed shortly after my 18th birthday.

I had been extremely thirsty, and had probably been drinking upwards of 10 gallons of water a day. My eyesight had drastically deteriorated, and a recent surgery I had wasn’t heeling at all. My dad is a physician, however, when I had turned 18, I had moved out, so he wasn’t able to see any of these symptoms.

One day, I was snowboarding, and my thirst was getting inconvenient. You have to understand, usually when I go snowboarding, I only ever go into the lodge once to eat lunch and go to the bathroom if necessary. This day, I had to go in every single time I got to the bottom of the mountain so I could go to the bathroom and refill the 5 water bottles I was carrying. Finally, during one trip up the chairlift, I called my dad. “Dad, I have a problem,” I told him, “I need to check-in to rehab. I am an aquaholic. I’m addicted to water”. At first he kind of laughed at me, until I explained how serious I was and how much water I had been drinking everyday. He immediately knew the real problem, and the next day we had my blood sugar tested to confirm it.

Question: 

Were you always on the pump?

Miss Idaho:

I wasn’t. I was required to be on shots for the first year. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be on a pump, because giving oneself shots can be hidden much easier than a pump can. By the time I was allowed to get a pump, I had heard of Nicole Johnson, Miss America 1999, and was excited to follow in her footsteps.

Question:

When you were in school were you ever bullied for wearing the pump or having diabetes?

Miss Idaho:

I had actually graduated high school by the time acquired an insulin pump. The day after I was diagnosed, my school had an assembly and a diabetes educator came and told the students what type 1 diabetes was, and that it was not my fault that I had gotten it. Because my school was so supportive, I never had to deal with any negativity in school, but have had to deal with less-than-kind comments and looks from strangers.

Question:

What would be one thing you would share with a child and their family that have just been diagnosed.

Miss Idaho:

The hardest concept to come to terms with as a newly diagnosed diabetic is the fact that you will have to prick your finger and give yourself injections multiple times daily for the rest of your life. That is so overwhelming. I didn’t think it was possible. I thought kidney failure was inevitable, and that my a1c% would never fall. I want to show diabetics, especially newly diagnosed ones, that taking care of their diabetes and living a completely normal and healthy lifestyle is completely possible. It may be a challenge, and take a lot of hard work, but it is possible and they CAN do it.

Question: 

What would be one thing you would share about growing up with diabetes was it hard?

Miss Idaho: 

I actually didn’t grow up with diabetes. I have friends who were diagnosed during the first three years of their life, and in some ways, I sometimes envy that they have never known anything else. But of course, I am thankful that I have only had to deal with it for two years, and that my parents never had to deal with it at all.

Question:

What challenges have you faced?

Miss Idaho:

The obvious challenge was figuring out how to develop the habits of measuring my blood sugar and giving the necessary insulin. I think the challenge that often gets overlooked is dealing with the self-esteem issues that accompany diabetes. Whether it is having to show some skin while administering a shot, or being attached to a little machine 24/7, sometimes diabetes can be embarrassing because it makes you different. Whether you are an 8 year-old little boy who is afraid of what your playmates will think or say at recess, or a 20 year old young woman, afraid of never finding a boyfriend who will accept the fact that you wear an insulin pump, we all face some discomfort and lack confidence at some points. That has been one of the greatest challenges for me, and is something I still struggle with.

Question:

What victories!!!

Miss Idaho:

Without diabetes, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to have such a huge voice for the diabetes community. I had no idea that the #showmeyourpump campaign would have an impact on such a great scale. Even more surprising, I could never have predicted how much it would mean to people, and how deep of an impact it would have made. Being able to touch so many people, so deeply, has been worth every second of my struggle with diabetes. I had lunch yesterday with one of my close friends, Laura Hampikian, who also competes for Miss Idaho. Her platform is advocating for healthy relationships, which developed from her experience as a young teen in an unhealthy and manipulative relationship. Yesterday, she said “it is crazy to see how some of the worst things that we have experienced and the greatest challenges we have faced have resulted in giving us our greatest opportunities and helped us touch the lives of so many others”. With the right attitude, you can overcome the challenges presented to you. You can use them to grow as an individual, as well as influence and inspire those around you. I am so grateful for all the opportunities and friends that diabetes has brought into my life. God definitely had a plan.

Question:

When you wore your pump on your bikini what was your thought process.? Did you have any idea how inspiring that would be?

Miss Idaho:

I was still very nervous. I had no idea it would get all this media attention, and at first, it really didn't. My official platform isn't diabetes, nobody announced anything about my pump or what it was, etc. Some of my diabetic friends from around the U.S. we're asking me to post a picture since they hadn't been able to come watch, so I did! It wasn't until a few days after my win that everything went crazy!

 

We thank Sierra for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer out questions, Sierra is definitely a wonderful role model and inspiration.    Below our some photos that Sierra has shared with us .

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