July 21, 2008

About Lee Ann

Filed under: — Lee Ann @ 8:25 pm
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I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1978 at age 5. For many years, I had difficulty accepting my diabetes, but eventually, I made peace with it. Those struggles and the evolution of my perspective on life with diabetes have been transformative. Today, I am dedicated to managing my diabetes, and grateful for all it has taught me, the people it has brought into my life, and the opportunities I have had because of it. I wear a pump and CGM, count carbs, and my dog, Kaylee, makes sure I exercise.

As I balance diabetes management with enjoying life and achieving my goals, I’m able to keep diabetes in the background most of the time. When it slows me down, I try to be patient and forgiving of diabetes, and when I lose my patience with diabetes, I try to be patient and forgiving of myself. Blogging allows me to share my diabetes story, the good and the bad, and it helps me deal with the ups and downs of this relentless disease. It allows me to connect with others, some of whom relate to my experience, some of whom have had very different experiences, and some of whom are looking for insight or guidance on their own diabetes journeys. Either way, we’re in this together, and blogging is a way for me to contribute to the broader Diabetes Online Community conversation.

My diabetes advocacy efforts include Diabetes Art Day and the World Diabetes Day Postcard Exchange, web-based art initiatives for people affected by diabetes. Professionally, I’m an art therapist dedicated to helping people with diabetes through creative expression. I have a private practice (consider that a “Friendly Link”) in the Philadelphia suburbs, where I provide art therapy and psychotherapy to people with diabetes. I also facilitate art therapy workshops, and present on diabetes and mental health for patient and professional groups. I’m currently working on my doctorate in expressive therapies, and hope to advance knowledge and understanding of the potential that art has to help people with diabetes through my research.

In my personal time, I love being with my husband, Jason, Kaylee, and iguana, Darwin. Jason and I are avid movie-goers, and have a solid list of favorite TV shows (Modern Family, True Blood, Walking Dead, New Girl, Doctor Who…), and in the fall, we watch the Eagles. I’m a painter, and spend much of my free time working on my art. I also enjoy other creative activities like crafts, photography, writing, and cooking, and I love to travel.

Last modified: August 2013

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8 Responses to “About Lee Ann”

  1. Stacey Divone says:

    Great site Lee Ann!! And great story too … one of which I can certainly relate to (mostly). Good luck with it and you can definitely count on me as a regular visitor :)

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Wow. I never knew there were SO Many people out there dealing with the SAME “issues” I have/had.
    I was 5 when I was diagnosed (1971) I was 20 when I had my first eating disorder.
    I was 21 when I lost all the hair on my body (Alopecia)
    I was 27 when I developed mild hypertension and thyroid problems.
    Other than that??? I am a healty bouncing adult diabetic!

    Right now I am having a real hard time dealing with the depression, and mental health
    partitions of this disease. Ill keep coming back to see how you are doing!

  3. Nadia says:

    Hi Lee Ann,
    THAT’S freaky: I’ve kept my insulin in the butter compartment for 24 years myself! I’m happy I came across your site and, I agree that mental health services need to be incorporated with Diabetes care–especially, in light of all the research that links depression and EDs with diabetes! I really feel close to your experience with DB–I’m still undergoing treatment for proliferative diabetic retinopathy (they say they’re running out of space to laser, though). My A1C these days is about 7–best ever!

    I, too, will visit your site often. I’m glad to see you are doing well!

  4. Laura says:

    Hi Lee Ann.
    I’m so happy that I found you! I just finished watching the Intervention episode about John, which I taped 4 days ago. Like you, I was intensely interested in knowing how he’d been helped at the centre in Washington. I was pleased to see that Ken Seeley focused more on his depression than his diabetes control however I’m convinced that Ken’s empathy is keener with addicts than it was with John. I’m sure that the show has a high success rate because their intervention counsellors are all recovered addicts/alcoholics. I looked up the Centre for Counselling and Health Resources in Washington, thinking that I’d finally find a place that addresses how one’s emotional well-being affects diabetic self-care. I was disappointed but not really surprised to see that it’s primarily a centre for addictions. I’m guessing that’s why John was sent so far away from home. I agree with you that the entire family would have been better served having therapy together closer to their home.
    I was diagnosed with T1 diabetes at the age of 10, 41 years ago, and I’ve had many struggles along the way, beginning with my chaotic home environment and undiagnosed childhood depression which lasted into early adulthood. I’ve seen a number of therapists and the one who took me on my true path of emotional healing was unable to help with any diabetes-related issues. Of course, everything’s interconnected and I’m doing very well managing my health. I’ve had many laser treatments for retinopathy and I was scheduled to have a vitrectomy about 18 years ago, but my eye healed just before the scheduled
    surgery! I also had minor kidney damage that has reversed as a result of blood pressure meds and taking better care of myself.
    And guess what – I have a masters degree in an art therapy and I’ve been practising for about 25 years. I’ve worked with a variety of clients of all ages, but it was in my private practice that I ran a couple of support groups for diabetic adults using art. I had never met a health care professional who could offer any kind of emotional or psychological support
    when it came to managing my diabetes. It was mainly through my own training as a therapist and coming to a better place with it that I was ready to help others. It took me a long time to realize how terrorized I felt and this helped me gradually to relate to my diabetes in a healthier way. And I did and still do a lot of artwork to help myself through things. I also changed Dr.s after my eye crisis and my new specialist has empathy and insight which I find extremely helpful. One of my goals with the groups was to help them understand that their struggles with their diabetes reflected their general isssues in other areas of their lives. It was gratifying work and I wish there was a lot more of it. All of the participants in my groups said that they wouldn’t have joined if I too hadn’t been a diabetic – and it turned out that we were all type 1.

    I don’t know if you personally answer people who write to you – I’m not really a blogger and although I find my computer useful, I rarely write to people except through email – but if you do, I’d enjoy finding out more about your work and perhaps brainstorming ways of helping other diabetics with our unique art therapy skills.

    Best wishes,
    Laura

  5. Hi Lee Ann,

    Just looked over your blog site and think it is a wonderful site.

    You are doing a great job my friend. I am glad that I have found you have something in common with me and lots of other people. It is nice to be able to share information and ideas about our mutual health problem(diabetes).

    I look forward to hearing from you my friend.

    You may contact me any time via Email.

    Well, take care and stay strong.

    Sincerely,
    Your New Friend,

    Timothy H. Cullins

  6. Sammy Jaffee says:

    Hi Lee Ann, I’ve finally had a chance to look at your site. Very inspiring! I love the part about your reptilian children… daddy smeagol!!!!
    -Sammy

  7. Hi Lee Ann: It was good to read some of your blog and how you are living with your diabetes. I, too, am a Type I diabetic but wasn’t diagnosed until age 47. My father was a Type I, diagnosed at age 14, but died young at age 56, suffering from his 4th and final heart attack, all complications from the diabetes. I grew up learning fast about diabetes, with many episodes of low’s in the middle of the night aiding my mom in trying to bring my dad “back from the dark side.” Needless to say, orange juice was plentiful in my house growing up as it is in my home now. It has begun to be my best friend. My lows are still recognizable and have not had to resort to glucagon kits yet. As a paralegal, dairy farmer and matriarch for my sibling family of 7, plus my own two sons and an elderly mother and aunt who I help out with, life is never dull. I started blogging in the middle of the night during my lows and now post whenever I can. I hope you might take some time to read along with me as well. Keep up the good work, Lee Ann.

  8. [...] now, I don’t know. Lee Ann Thill wrote a post about this not too long ago. Lee Ann struggled with some of the same issues and I [...]

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