How’s this for a career change? A former police officer is making headlines as a seamstress — for kids with type 1 diabetes.
Because diabetes never takes a day off, even on special occasions, Julie Christian creates gorgeous dresses custom tailored for insulin-pump wearers. Each dress is sewn with a concealed pocket that’s sized the same as its owner’s insulin pump.
Here’s Christian and her first customer, 10-year-old Julia Looker, explaining to Boston’s WBZ-TV how it all started:
The dresses solve a problem many pump-wearing people face: How to conceal the pump if it doesn’t fit with your look?
A lot of techniques have been devised over the years, from hiding the pump in a bra to strapping it around the thigh with an elastic band. There are even sets of underwear, tanks and camisoles with built-in pump pockets.
Here, Christian demonstrates to Wicked Local Hanover how her dresses work:
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Sadly, going without the pump for more than a short time is not an option. No matter what, people with type 1 diabetes absolutely must have insulin to stay alive.
Type 1 diabetes is an incurable autoimmune disorder in which the pancreas stops producing insulin. Without insulin, the body can’t process the carbohydrates in food, and then sugar — in the form of glucose — stays in the bloodstream. If untreated, type 1 is fatal. It is not preventable.
About 1.25 million Americans have type 1 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. By contrast, the Centers for Disease Control estimate that more than 100 million Americans have type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.
The key difference between the two types is that, with type 2 diabetes, the pancreas still produces insulin, but the body has developed a resistance to the hormone. It can be treated with oral medications and lifestyle changes.
With type 1, the pancreas produces little to no insulin. From the moment they’re diagnosed, people with type 1 must add insulin to their bodies via injection or, as in Looker’s case, an insulin pump.
Each type 1 patient can choose the therapy method that works best for them. Some folks just don’t like being hooked up to a machine all the time, so they prefer the injections. Others love the pump’s convenience — press a few buttons and a dose of insulin is delivered.
That’s where we settled after doing multiple daily injections for a couple of years with my now-6-year-old son. He wears his pump in a SPIbelt around his waist. It has a small hole to thread the tubing to the site that infuses insulin into his body.
He doesn’t wear dresses, though; when it’s time to be fancy we just pop the pump in his pants pocket, or we can hide the belt under his shirt.
It’s so cool that his fellow type 1’s have a lovely new option for getting glam. Christian’s dresses start at $150; email her at [email protected] to inquire.