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No argument here: Tandem pump helps Colorado teen thrive in speech & debate

When Melina Collier is prepping for a speech and debate competition, she gathers all the information, crafts her argument, and presents the strongest case possible.

She’s good at it — very, very good.

The 17-year-old senior is the captain of her speech and debate team at her Colorado high school, where she has competed regionally and nationally.

“The whole point is you can talk to your grandmother about the topic and she’d be able to understand,” Collier explained. “It’s about informing the public. You never know until you get there which side you’re going to take. You have to be prepared.”

Preparedness seems to be a staple for someone living with type 1 diabetes.

Melina was diagnosed with T1D when she was 11, but it wasn’t the first significant diagnosis of her life.

At age 9 doctors determined she had Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) — an eating disorder primarily in children that can lead to anxiety with food. It’s characterized by the fear of choking or vomiting, or an adverse reaction to taste, textures, or smells. In Melina’s case, she was afraid she would throw up if she ate.

She spent a month in a recovery center recalibrating her relationship with food. That would change again two years later while on a family vacation to Florida.

“I had all of the standard signs,” Melina said. “I was thirsty all of the time. I was weak. My body just wasn’t responding.”

A trip to intensive care revealed her glucose levels were pushing 500 mg/dL and she was officially diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  

Melina already had anxiety about food because of her ARFID. So once again, she needed to figure things out. She had to gather all of the information.

She had to prepare.

Melina didn’t spend much time using multiple daily injections. However, she wasn’t pleased with her first insulin pump. Her glucose levels would fluctuate during speech competitions, making it difficult for her to focus. That’s when she made the switch to the t:slim X2 insulin pump with Control-IQ technology.

“I was really excited to go on Tandem because I could do the [advanced hybrid] closed loop with my CGM,” Melina said. “Especially during debate, my blood sugar would spike because I would get so anxious. And it’s always hard for me to eat when I’m anxious.

“Having a Tandem pump really helped me control that.”

Getting a Tandem insulin pump didn’t just make Melina feel better about managing her diabetes. It was also a win-win for her whole family.

t:slim X2 insulin pump with Control-IQ technology

"With her Tandem pump, she lives a little more carefree because she can trust the pump to keep up with her glucose trends and fluctuations more accurately," said Melina's mother, Amie, a college professor. "While Melina is a superstar at managing her diabetes independently, we worry much less about dangerous lows and prolonged high blood sugars because she has the Tandem pump. We trust it to be a really reliable tool to work with her to manage her diabetes."

Melina is still deciding whether she’ll continue to do speech and debate at the collegiate level. She plans to focus her attention on biology, with the hope of pursuing a field in medicine and the diabetes world.

“I want to study endocrinology, diabetes, and diabetes research,” Melina said. “I’ve never been one to really talk openly about my diabetes. But I think it would be cool to go down that route and see if I could help someone else.”

As you’d expect, Amie beams at how Melina has handled adversity.

“I am proudest of her perseverance,” Amie said. “She is a really intuitive and proactive young person, and she channels her energy to control the things about her diabetes that she is able to and focuses more on the things that bring her joy in her life.”

No debate there.

We can’t wait to see what’s next for you, Melina. Thanks for being part of the Tandem Family. 

Note: From time to time, we may pass along suggestions, tips, or information about other Tandem insulin pump user experiences or approaches to the management of diabetes. Please note, however, individual symptoms, situations, circumstances, and results may vary. Please consult your physician or qualified healthcare provider regarding your condition and appropriate medical treatment. Please read the Important Safety Information before using a Tandem Diabetes Care product.

Important Safety Information: RX ONLY. The t:slim X2 pump and Control-IQ technology are intended for single patient use. The t:slim X2 pump and Control-IQ technology are indicated for use with NovoLog or Humalog U-100 insulin. t:slim X2 insulin pump: The t:slim X2 insulin pump with interoperable technology is intended for the subcutaneous delivery of insulin, at set and variable rates, for the management of diabetes mellitus in people requiring insulin. The pump is able to reliably and securely communicate with compatible, digitally connected devices, including automated insulin dosing software, to receive, execute, and confirm commands from these devices. The pump is indicated for use in individuals 6 years of age and greater. Control-IQ technology: Control-IQ technology is intended for use with compatible integrated continuous glucose monitors (iCGM, sold separately) and alternate controller enabled (ACE) pumps to automatically increase, decrease, and suspend delivery of basal insulin based on iCGM readings and predicted glucose values. It can also deliver correction boluses when the glucose value is predicted to exceed a predefined threshold. Control-IQ technology is intended for the management of Type 1 diabetes mellitus in persons 6 years of age and greater.

WARNING: Control-IQ technology should not be used by anyone under the age of 6 years old. It should also not be used in patients who require less than 10 units of insulin per day or who weigh less than 55 pounds.

Control-IQ technology is not indicated for use in pregnant women, people on dialysis, or critically ill patients. Do not use Control-IQ technology if using hydroxyurea. Users of a Tandem insulin pump and Control-IQ technology must use the insulin pump, CGM, and all other system components in accordance with their respective instructions for use; test blood glucose levels as recommended by their healthcare provider; demonstrate adequate carb-counting skills; maintain sufficient diabetes self-care skills; see healthcare provider(s) regularly; and have adequate vision and/or hearing to recognize all functions of the pump, including alerts, alarms, and reminders. The Tandem pump must be removed before MRI, CT, or diathermy treatment. Visit tandemdiabetes.com/safetyinfo for additional important safety information.

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