Five Decades with Diabetes Part 3: Staying Active and Inspiring Others

Posted by suzi on Thu, 08/14/2014 - 07:56 in

This week we are featuring the inspiring story of Omnipod wearer Suzi Vietti. Suzi has lived with diabetes for 50 years, overcoming numerous obstacles on her way to become, among other things, the First Female Powered Parachute Sport Pilot, as well as one of the coolest 63-year-old grandmothers on the planet.

I have shared with you my past struggles and successes with diabetes, and I’m hoping the future holds many more successes. Now that I’ve reached my 50th anniversary with diabetes, I also hope to serve as an inspiration to others.

Rock-Climbing-with-Diabetes-2I remain a very active runner. I ran another half-marathon with the Insulindependence group, a FABULOUS group for athletes with diabetes, in Carlsbad, CA a few years ago. I was named one of the “Heroes” of the race. It was such an honor! I have done 5Ks, 10Ks and 15Ks. My daughter also introduced me to the sport of rock climbing. It is an absolutely breathtaking sport.

A very dear friend of mine and I climbed Pinnacle Peak in Arizona a couple of years ago. It would have been much more difficult to accomplish this without the use of my Omnipod insulin pump. "No strings attached" was certainly our motto as we scaled the peak of this great mountain without pump tubing hanging off of me. And as I stood with him at the top, I couldn't help but think, again, how fortunate I was to be able to experience such a feat. I have also done four sky-dives, tandem style. If you want an exhilarating experience, that is the way to go. The free-fall is like magic. The speed you go down at is incredible - then suddenly the rip-cord is pulled and you just float. It is similar to a dream, it is so unreal. But it is EVER SO AWESOME!

I also have really gotten hooked on CrossFit. I am so impressed with it; I cannot put it all into words. But it is a VERY AGGRESSIVE form of exercise done in a "box" gym, rather than a regular gym. A full medical check-up needs to be done before considering beginning it. It is a combination of aerobic and anaerobic exercise, which suits me to a "T." The aerobic exercises drop my blood sugar and the anaerobic part, lifting weights, etc., raises my blood sugar. It is a great combination and is done under the supervision of a trained instructor. Proper form is required at all times in order to prevent accidents, sprains, pulls and other injuries.

Celebrating My 50th Anniversary with Diabetes

Rock-Climbing-with-Diabetes-1As I embark on my 50th anniversary with diabetes, I am amazed how much things have changed since my diagnosis. With all the new tests and their practical applications for living with type 1 diabetes, people can live so much better than in previous years. At this point in my life, one thing I still aspire to do more of, and have done a little at Dr. Matt Corcoran's Diabetes Training Camp, is become somewhat of an icon for those people newly diagnosed with diabetes, as well as those who have had diabetes for a number of years. To be able to SHOW them that it is very possible, as well as highly probable, that they can live a VERY FULL LIFE no different than their peers without diabetes.

You may have to work at it a little harder than your peers, but you are not destined to be inactive or limited in what you do just because you have diabetes. And as you age, you do not have to give up things you like to do. I’ve had many younger people comment that they were SO happy to see me, at my age, not having a million side effects and being very active. They were frightened of what might lie ahead in the future of their disease.

What I’m Thankful For

I have SO much to live for:  I have a husband who has been my partner in dealing with this disease for 47 of the 50 years that I have dealt with it. He definitely deserves an award of valor for persevering and helping me out, as necessary. He could walk away if it got too difficult, while I cannot. But he has stayed by my side for so many years and many times I have owed him my life. I was also blessed with three children (when doctors once said I should not have children), two in-law spouses and five grandchildren. And this family is the greatest family in the world. Even my two four-year-old grandchildren know how to do a fingerstick on "Nona" (me). They've never had to do it, but if it were necessary, they could deliver an accurate result.

There's no one who has a better life. I've flown all over the U.S. and am now trying to figure how to get our planes to Alaska and Hawaii to finish out the WHOLE U.S.! I think that probably will remain an unmet goal. But that's OK, I can handle that! Thank you for taking the time to learn about my journey with diabetes and life in general. I appreciate it!

Click here to learn more about the Omnipod insulin pump and to order a free demo to try yourself.