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Nicoleta Schock - Type 1 Diabetes

Nicoleta Schock, who lives with type 1 diabetes, truly appreciates the advances that have been made in diabetes research and care. Schock, who was born and raised in Romania, has fond memories of her childhood but her health along the way has been marked with many ups and downs.

Nicoleta Schock and her childern Nicoleta Schock and her children

In Romania, when Schock was just six years old, she began experiencing the severe symptoms the disease can cause, extreme thirst, fatigue and weight loss. Since diabetes runs in her family, her parents took her to see a physician who diagnosed her with type 1 diabetes.

After she was diagnosed, it became difficult to manage extreme sugar highs and lows with the lack of medical technology. “Back then, I didn’t have a glucometer so I never really knew what my true blood sugar was,” says Schock.

As such, Schock’s family paid close attention to her diet. “My family watched what I ate all the time. They would keep me away from sweets. I remember my brothers and sisters were able to eat candy but I was given chewing gum. But even with this there were many times when my sugar level would be very high or drop too low.”

With increased health problems and her father’s relatives already residing in the United States, Nicoleta’s family decided to move. So in 1991, at the tender age of 16, they uprooted from Romania and became residents of Michigan. Unable to speak English and having no health insurance, her family endured a lot. Schock remembers her family spending a small fortune on diabetes supplies.

“If I remember correctly, it was roughly $35 for a bottle of insulin and I used about three per month. This did not include the cost of other supplies I needed, like syringes.”

As the years passed, Schock eventually married and received health insurance. When she and her husband found out they were expecting their first child they were referred to Dr. Lash, director of High Risk Obstetrics for Gestational Diabetes at the University of Michigan. Under his guidance, Schock delivered a healthy baby boy and, 14 months later, a baby girl. “I contribute their good health to Dr. Lash’s care,” she says.

After her pregnancies, Schock sought diabetes care outside the U-M network. During this time, she began experiencing severely low blood sugar readings. She recalls one situation that was truly alarming.

“I began losing the ability to tell when my sugar was dropping. One day I was out shopping and didn’t realize it was getting too low. I remember coming out of the store and I couldn’t find my car. I finally found it and when I got in I passed out for nearly five hours. My husband was looking for me and calling my cell phone. He called 911 and they began searching for my car. Fortunately, I awoke and had enough strength to drive home, which, looking back, I would not advise anyone to do.”

Schock soon decided to be seek her complete diabetes care from a U-M physician and was referred to Dr. Rodica Pop-Busui, a U-M endocrinologist.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better physician. Right away I knew I was in the best hands possible for my disease. And my nurse educator, Linda Dale, was fantastic, too. She spent a lot of time with me. I attended the group classes for people with type 1 diabetes and learned a lot of new information that helped me take better care of my diabetes."

Part of her care has been using a diabetic pump — a small device about the size of a pager that continually delivers a small dose of insulin. “I had to be sold on the pump.” Schock says. “I didn’t like the idea of being attached to something 24 hours a day. But now I have used it for almost a year and I love it. It is much easier than carrying around syringes and bottles of insulin. Plus, my sugar levels have improved drastically.”

How is she doing today? Her health has improved, something she attributes to those she loves most — her husband and children — as well as the care she receives at the University of Michigan.

“My husband’s attention to my disease has been amazing. He is always very supportive and has helped me every step of the way. He makes sure I am eating okay and testing my sugar. Plus, he always checks up on me if I am running late in case something has happened.” Schock also gives much praise to her children. “They know what to do in case of an emergency and can sense if my sugar is low about as well as I can.”

Finally, when asked about the difficulties of having diabetes, Schock quickly remarks, “I feel it is harder on my family than it is on me. They have to cope with the disease, too. For me, it isn’t bad. I eat healthy, test my sugar often and stay active with two children. Plus, these days type 1 diabetes can be treated remarkably well. Children today have it much better than I did, thankfully. It would be nice for there to be a cure, but I can’t complain.”

Through daily management, a great attitude and top notch care from U-M diabetes experts, Nicoleta Schock enjoys a healthy and active lifestyle doing what she loves most, being a mom.

Learn more about type 1 diabetes