Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 5, Annalise Mizner, staff nurse in the Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology, says her disease has impacted every area of her life – from what she eats to the activities she participates in.
“As a child, everyone around me (from teachers to coaches) were aware of my medical needs and how to respond if I had low or high blood sugar,” she said. “I was blessed with amazing parents who told me I could do the same things other kids did, but that I needed to be aware of what my body was telling me and how to take care of myself.”
Annalise credits the nurses and doctors at Akron Children’s Hospital with helping her learn to manage her disease.
“I was given a stuffed bear when I was first diagnosed. I would give the bear injections when I had to get injections,” she said. “As I got older, my parents slowly gave me more responsibilities which allowed me to participate in my care. This helped me become competent and confident in caring for myself as I became an adult.”
Recognizing the impact nurses had on her own life, Annalise started to think about nursing as a career.
“I took an anatomy and physiology class during my senior year of high school that helped me see that nursing was what I was meant for,” she said. “When I went to nursing school, I fell in love with pediatrics during my labor and delivery rotation getting to assist in births. In my pediatrics rotation, I worked at Children’s, and it was amazing. I loved working with kids and being a part of their healing process.”
When Annalise began her nursing career, she envisioned caring for patients like herself.
“To be able to care for patients and their families enduring everything I had gone through, and am still walking through, felt like an opportunity to help others feel less alone in their diabetes journeys,” she said. “I wanted to help families feel equipped and prepared. Type 1 diabetes doesn’t just affect the patient, it affects the entire family.”
Although Annalise never attended Akron Children’s Diabetes Camp as a child, she started volunteering at camp during her freshman year in college.
“From ages 19-23 I volunteered as a counselor,” she said. “The opportunity helped solidify my desire to become a pediatric nurse.”
Annalise credits nurse practitioners Stephanie Marszal and Lisa Davis with giving her opportunities to lead at camp.
“They helped me grow as a nursing student by allowing me to be my cabin’s medical counselor and assist the girls with blood sugar checks,” she said. “I helped the campers understand how they were feeling in their high and low blood sugars and how to keep track of their numbers and incorporate them in their care.”
Now working her dream job as an endocrinology nurse, Annalise does glucose monitor trainings, diabetes education, phone triage, medication management and gives injections to patients living with precocious puberty. As a type 1 diabetic, she has a unique understanding of her patients and families.
“I relate to parents who are overwhelmed trying to manage their child’s health,” said Annalise. “I also relate to teens who are tired of checking blood sugars and counting carbs and just wants to enjoy a meal or hang out with friends without having to test or give themselves an injection.”
This past year Annalise had another dream come true.
“Back in nursing school, I couldn’t wait until I could be one of the camp nurses,” she said. “This year it finally happened, and it was such an incredible moment.”
Today, Annalise’s diabetes is well controlled thanks to the support of her doctors, family and her husband.
“When I was first diagnosed, insulin pumps were just being introduced to the pediatric population,” she said. “Now, access to insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors makes managing and living with type 1 diabetes a lot easier. They help prevent emergent hypoglycemic events as well as cases of diabetic ketoacidosis in already diagnosed patients.
“These advancements also offer peace of mind by allowing loved ones to follow a patient’s continuous glucose monitor on their cell phones to keep an eye on them,” she added.
Annalise knows firsthand how difficult getting a type 1 diabetes diagnosis is for both patients and families. For her newly diagnosed patients and family members, she offers this advice.
“Take things one day at a time,” she says. “There are going to be good days and bad days and that’s OK. Expecting perfection for a disease that needs to be rebalanced constantly sets you up for failure. Recognizing that you are not your disease and that it can be used as a tool to help you live a healthy and productive life, will pay off in the long run.
Annalise says sharing her journey has helped her immensely in the process.
“Lean on your loved ones and trusted ones around you. It makes the harder times easier,” she says.
For more information on how the Akron Children’s endocrinology team can help your child manage diabetes, contact them at 330-543-3276.