Ten-year-old Trinity Martz relies on technology to help her manage juvenile diabetes.
She wears an insulin pump. And a continuous glucose monitor tracks her blood sugar levels and sends the information to her iPhone – and her parents’ phones – so they know when Trinity needs to eat a snack or stay away from sweets.
Trinity, who lives in Raleigh, knows technology that tracks her glucose levels keeps her safe and healthy. Now she wants the same for everyone, including senior citizens with juvenile diabetes, known as Type 1 diabetes.
Trinity recently took part in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Children’s Congress in Washington, D.C. She was one of more than 100 children from around the world who met with elected leaders and advocated for continued diabetes research.
In particular, Trinity hopes Congress will pass a bill that would allow Medicare, a federal health care program for seniors, to cover the cost of continuous glucose monitors, or CGMs. Currently, Medicare doesn’t pay for the devices.
It’s dangerous for older adults to not have CGMs to monitor their blood glucose levels, Trinity said.
“They pass out, and something really bad happens,” she said.
Trinity might seem wise beyond her years, thinking about the health care system. But she’s a typical 10-year-old who likes video games and all things Harry Potter.
Her father, Cameron Martz, said he and his wife realized something was wrong with Trinity during a family trip to Disney World in 2009.
“While we were at Disney, she was melting down every afternoon – more than you would expect from a child being tired at Disney,” Martz said.
Doctors soon diagnosed Trinity with Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disorder in which the pancreas stops producing insulin, the hormone that allows us to get energy from food.
About 1.25 million Americans have Type 1 diabetes, including 200,000 people younger than 20 years old, according to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The annual health care costs in the United States related to the disease are $14 billion.
There is no cure, and patients manage the illness with insulin doses and diet.
Trinity, who attends the private Raleigh School, said the disease doesn’t affect her life much.
Sometimes when parents bring cupcakes or Popsicles to school for a classmate’s birthday, she can’t have one. Otherwise, she can do everything her peers do.
“Socially, it has zero impact on her at this age,” Martz said.
Martz, who owns a personal training company, said his family never ate a lot of refined carbohydrates like bread and pasta.
Now, though, it’s important for Trinity to make those things part of her diet.
It was awful when they found out Trinity will deal with diabetes for the rest of her life, Martz said. But he didn’t dwell on the negatives.
“I knew I wasn’t going to cure diabetes by worrying about it,” he said.
Trinity is also focused on making a difference. Instead of receiving birthday gifts, she asks her friends to donate to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Over the past five years, Trinity’s team for a local JDRF walk has raised more than $90,000.
Now, she’s hoping for change on a national level, so older adults can have access to the technology that helps her so much.
In the meantime, she manages the highs and lows. Sometimes she feels so tired. Other times she easily angers. But it’s OK, she said – her blood-sugar level always comes back to normal.
“I just know I’ll have a great number again,” she said. “That keeps me moving. And I’m in good hands when I’m at home, and when I’m not at home.”
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