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The DX Diabetes Dish: Nat Strand

A pain management physician on life with type 1 diabetes

The DX will regularly feature The DX Diabetes Dish, a profile about life and life with diabetes. This month, we dish with Nat Strand, MD, an interventional pain management physician and Assistant Professor in Clinical Anesthesiology at USC’s Keck School of Medicine. Dr. Strand inspired millions as half of the winning team on season seventeen of CBS’ The Amazing Race, where she traveled over 32,000 miles across four continents in three weeks, all while managing her type 1 diabetes! Find out what must-haves are always in her suitcase, what she is most afraid of, and who inspires her.

What is your state of mind today?

I feel happy, optimistic, and focused.

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

Adventurous. Inquisitive. Inspired.

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

Diabetes has played a huge part in shaping the person I’ve become. Diabetes has helped me learn to multi-task, problem-solve, and plan ahead. Diabetes has also taught me about perseverance and finding motivation when I feel like I’m running on empty. Diabetes has not changed my love for travel, adventure, learning new things, or my confidence that all dreams are within reach.

What inspires you to do what you do?

I feel an intense desire to show that diabetes offers challenges, but not limitations. Diabetes can be scary for families, particularly in the beginning. When there are individuals in the media who race cars, climb Mt. Everest, and win The Amazing Race, it shows these families that nothing is out of reach. It’s a very important message for people with any disease, but especially for people with a new diagnosis of diabetes.

What do you appreciate most in your friends?

I appreciate how they educate themselves about my diabetes. They don’t act as the diabetes police, but they are there for support and encouragement when I need them.

What would you pack for your favorite vacation?

My continuous glucose monitor, insulin delivery device, meter, lots of glucose, sunscreen, bikini, snorkel/scuba gear, a giant floppy hat, iPhone, and running shoes.

What’s in your refrigerator right now?

Diet Sunkist, vitamin water, insulin (in the butter compartment), almond milk, eggs, turkey, all kinds of veggies, and meals by California Chef.

What is your favorite way to relieve stress?

I love to go to spin class with my girlfriends. It’s the perfect mix of music, exercise, and catching up!

What is your idea of happiness?

Happiness to me is a feeling of peace. When I feel that life is organized, stress levels are low, and I feel good about how I am living – I am happy.

What do you most dislike?

I really dislike waking up with a high blood sugar. I feel so frustrated about the hours I was sleeping and my sugar was creeping up; and I also feel like the upcoming day will be more difficult as I try to get it back under control.

What words do you try to live by?

Diabetes is a challenge, not a limitation. Whenever I feel that diabetes is getting in the way of something I want to do, I remind myself that I may have to change the style in which I do something, but I don’t have to give up on doing that thing.

What is your greatest fear?

I have an intense fear of heights!

What is your greatest extravagance?

Right now I am having my meals prepared and delivered by a meal delivery service. I’ve been doing it for a month now and I feel great. All of my meals are prepared organically, have low glycemic carbohydrates pre-measured for me, and only require re-heating. It’s an indulgence and I’m loving it!

On what occasion do you lie?

I try not to lie because I find it to be a huge waste of energy.

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

I wouldn’t change a thing. My family is thriving, and everyone is healthy, and I am grateful for that.

Who are your heroes in real life?

My parents, my diabetes nurse educator, my fiancé, my best friend, and athletes with diabetes (especially Peter Nerothin and Sebastien Sasseville).

What would you choose for your last meal?

My very last one? Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter & Jelly ice cream. I haven’t had it in years, and I don’t know if they even still make it, but if it’s my last one, I’m going all out!

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

© 2012 The DX: The Diabetes Experience

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