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“It means more safe management and being more in tune, definitely, with how my glucose is, what my blood sugar readings are,” says McGrath, 30. “That safe management component was, definitely, in the back of my mind amongst all the other worries COVID-19 brought to any other individual. So, it just amplified it.”

The current surge in area COVID numbers and from where a spate of cases came – five active outbreaks across the region include those at Isabel Fletcher Public School and Grand View Public School – is concerning, to say the least, to any educator.

McGrath didn’t see her 2015 diabetes diagnosis coming; there is a family history of Type 2 diabetes, but not Type 1, a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin.

“I lived my life one way where I didn’t know much about Type 1 diabetes to being diagnosed and in ICU for approximately four and a half days,” she said during a recent interview with the Sault Star. “I was losing weight so fast. (I wondered why) I was so thirsty, why I was becoming so ill and so unlike myself. It is just something that is so shocking.”

“How I explain it to people, how scary it becomes … It’s like very flu-like symptoms,” she said. “It was a shock for the family because it could have gone really south. It could have been very dangerous if I didn’t get the help when I did.”

“(Will) was quite young when I was in ICU, knowing that mom wasn’t at home,” she said.

“There are a lot of things when I look back over these six years … I definitely learned a lot,” McGrath said. “I learned a lot from people who are living with Type 1 (diabetes).”

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McGrath acquired her continuous glucose monitor system in 2019.  The small device, which uses a sensor that sits under the skin and continuously measures glucose levels in real time, allows users to proactively and efficiently manage diabetes.

“It’s makes me more in tune with what is happening with me inside,” she said. “The disease is invisible unless someone sees you with your receiver or your CGM or they see the sensor in your body. I’m very much positive with showing it. If I’m out boating or doing activities on our farm or riding or doing hay in the summer, it’s there.”

Work health plans – Chris is employed at Algoma Steel – “eliminate the financial burden.”

No everyone is so fortunate.

The high cost of advanced glucose monitoring devices – each carries an annual price tag of between $3,000 and $6,000 – is naturally a barrier to access for many Canadians living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. In line with Health Quality Ontario’s recommendations, Diabetes Canada has called on Ontario to publicly fund the devices.

Increased access to this technology would “definitely” lessen hospitalizations, said McGrath, who cringes at horror stories of less fortunate diabetics “sadly” rationing insulin, especially in the U.S.

“Thankfully, I’m a Canadian citizen,” she said. “I often think of our border town, how if I was an American citizen, how different it would be. Just right over the bridge. It’s such a difference.”

McGrath said she is determined not to let diabetes get her down.

This content was originally published here.