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The DX Diabetes Dish: Blair Ryan

Triathlete & d-advocate on living with type 1 diabetes

Blair Ryan is currently the media and publications director for Insulindependence, a San Diego-based nonprofit organization whose aim is to revolutionize diabetes management through recreation and adventure. Blair was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of fourteen in 2000, and is an accomplished collegiate distance runner and cyclist. She recently completed Ironman Arizona (consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run). Blair currently lives, works, and surfs in San Diego, California. She took the time to dish with us about what’s going on with her as she leads a very active life with diabetes.

What is your state of mind today?

Restlessly eager. Restless because I’m on an airplane with a to-do list to the horizon. Eager, because I’m motivated by the mutual respect my colleagues and I share at Insulindependence. Working with brilliant people whom I respect is the most rewarding and the most challenging aspect of my life right now.

What three words would you use to describe who you are?

Impatient. Patient. Squirrel.

How does diabetes change – or not change – who you are?

Diabetes has not changed who I am. But, it has changed how and where I spend most of my time. Five years ago, I never thought I’d work in the diabetes industry. If I didn’t have diabetes, I would still swim, bike, run, surf, and want to tell stories through multimedia. But the people I have met because I have diabetes have influenced where and when I do those activities.

What inspires you to do what you do?

It is impossible not to be inspired by Insulindependence, an organization with a mission I believe in, leadership I respect, and a culture that feels like home. I learn from my colleagues and our constituents by the minute, and I’m inspired equally by the positive experiences I’ve had as a person with diabetes and the struggles I see other people with diabetes facing. The ideas in my notebook and unprocessed images on my hard drives inspire my late nights spent developing a platform on which they can eventually come to life.

What do you appreciate most in your friends?

My closest friends are those who don’t question the strength of our friendship when we can’t be together, and truly make the most of every moment when we are.

What would you pack for your favorite vacation?

Running shoes, a bathing suit, a light down jacket, sunblock, a book, my camera in a dry bag, pajama pants, and a trail map.

What’s in your refrigerator right now?

I haven’t been home for five days, but I know I have tortillas, eggs, cheddar cheese, Greek yogurt, large Fuji apples, coffee creamer, and insulin in there.

What is your favorite way to relieve stress?

Lap swimming, running, group bike rides, and surfing, depending on the waves. I also find it relaxing to do laundry.

What is your idea of happiness?

Going out to breakfast, screened-in porches, good water pressure, acoustic versions, running in the rain, driving trucks, getting paper mail, coffee in a mug, National Public Radio, tight hugs, singing in the car with friends, live music, musicals, family vacations, riding on smooth pavement, jumping off high things into fresh water, every minute with my siblings, good discussion, and kettle corn.

What do you most dislike?

Searching for parking in a busy city, hard drives without enough free space, Las Vegas, the chronic feeling that there are too few hours in a day to complete what I want to, and time zones.

What’s your favorite diabetes management tip?

Move! I can usually attribute my struggles with balancing blood sugar levels to a period of reduced exercise. Exercise is one thing that, for me, may make diabetes more forgiving.

What words do you try to live by?

Feet on ground, heart in hand, facing forward, be yourself. – Jann Arden

What is your greatest fear?

My greatest fear has always been the death of people I love.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Large picture frames in the Steinbeck Collection and pumpkin spice lattes.

On what occasion do you lie?

Oh, I don’t know, but if I said I didn’t, I guess I’d be lying.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

Everyone would live in my neighborhood, instead of 2,600 miles away.

Who are your heroes in real life?

My hero would be a composite of qualities from many people whom I respect.

What would you choose for your last meal?

My mum’s water-based seafood chowder with salt added to my taste.

What are you looking forward to right now?

The whole year!

All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the interviewee and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.

© 2013 The DX: The Diabetes Experience

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