First, let me start by saying, we have been seeing Jean Roemer, MN., MSN., CRPN, CDE. every 3 months, pretty much since Little Man's diagnosis almost 3 1/2 years ago! We have always walked out of the room, after seeing her, feeling inspired, motivated, and geared with very helpful information on how to better manage, care for, and advocate for Little Man.
About a year ago, Jean told me about a journey she is embracing, to help other's in need. Ever since that day, I have wanted to ask her if I could interview her for all my wonderful blog readers... but have been too nervous to ask!
(Ask and you shall receive!)
I finally got the courage up to ask her! So today, I am pleased to introduce you all to Jean Roemer, MN., MSN., CRNP., CDE.!
Welcome Dr. Roemer, and thank you for allowing me to interview you!
Hello…. First of all, I must say that I am not a Dr… I am a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, and also a Certified Diabetes Educator. I have 2 Master’s degrees, one in Child Development/Nursing Care of Children and one in Health Promotion and Development.
My apologies, Jean. (My family has referred to you as a doctor for so long, it became habit! LOL!)
Jean, I understand that you have Type 1 Diabetes also! How long have you lived with diabetes?
44 years -- and still have a box of the old equipment I used to use to prove it! (Such as a glass syringe and stainless steel needle that I boiled on the stove every morning to sterilize ).
As a person with Type 1, what would you say is the most difficult part about living with this disease?
I think everyone would answer this differently, as some would say the diet, others the “shots”, others the planning, etc. For me, I think the hardest has been the guilt that I might be hurting myself when I stray, and/or the unpredictability of all the variables that you cannot account for (such as hormones, lingering effect of exercise, absorption of insulin, stress etc.)
As I'm sure you already know, sometimes parents of, and children with diabetes have days where they feel depressed, usually when their blood sugars aren't where we strive them to be. What kind of inspiration would you suggest they seek? Any particular books, etc?
Having a down moment or a blue day is one thing, but if children with diabetes are often depressed, angry, or acting out, they might benefit from an evaluation and regular counseling for a short period of time. Sometimes they benefit from help adjusting to feelings of being “different” and finding ways to minimize those feelings and extra support.
Otherwise, most children and teens benefit from the endorphins of exercise, as exercise is a great antidepressant, including team sports. Personally, I firmly believe in the power of prayer, and can say that my faith has gotten me through many rough spots and my inspiration has been the Bible. Of course there are encouraging and educational books for kids with diabetes from ADA, and others. That given, my favorite books are my own!
What inspired you to become a Certified Diabetes Educator and Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner? Why did you choose this profession over all others?
I have worked in the field of diabetology and endocrinology for 35 years. When doing my graduate work, I was interested to see what was going on in pediatric diabetes and while there, a job opened up. I took it, and the rest, as they say, is history! I have a heart for the work, and eventually became the national president of the American Association of Diabetes Educators. That experience plunged me into academics, writing, and research.
I understand that you have teamed up with the Pittsburgh Presbytery and contacts in Malawi to help families living with Type 1 Diabetes receive much needed diabetic supplies. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
This is a humanitarian effort that has gone on for about 8 or 9 years now. I have worked with various efforts to get supplies there. The Presbytery has a partnership with churches in Malawi, mostly in a region known as Blantyre, and as a result there are folks coming and going several times a year who carry items to one of their main hospitals. I also have also worked through a particular UPMC physician, in the Department of Under-served Medicine who travels frequently to Lilongwe, in northern Malawi who takes supplies with her. I am told that the staff in these hospitals are exceedingly grateful to have the supplies as their Emergency Rooms and units do not have meters and lab tests are few and far between, so diagnosis is difficult. People mail or hand me donations, and I and sometimes others sort, count, and repackage them (discarding boxes and containers that take room in a suitcase), and pack into a suitcase to go with a traveler. I have not taken the opportunity to go there myself. My work has always been on this end.
Other than unused/unopened insulin, test strips, lancets, etc... do you also accept excess pump supplies for your donations?
What is extremely needed right now is test strips, of any kind (including urine test strips). I am generally able to match any unexpired strips to a new meter. I cannot send used meters due to blood born virus precautions. I cannot send anything expired. This is a 3rd world country and they do not have the blessing of pumps, so we cannot use pump supplies. You might check out Ipump.com for pump donations although as of today, their website is down.
Donations can be mailed to: Malawi Effort c/o Jean Roemer
7065 Highland Creek Dr.
Bridgeville, PA 15017
Monetary Donations to help offset luggage/air fees and postage are gratefully accepted and can be made to:
Bethany Presbyterian Church - noted for Malawi Diabetes fund and mailed to Jean Roemer at above address.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Just to say that keeping blood sugars in line is the most important thing you can do. It takes discipline, organization, commitment, communication and relentless effort. Yet, if you can succeed, it is your best chance for delaying or preventing possible problems that can occur in years to come. Don’t give up and don‘t “settle“ for less than the best!
Thank you again, Jean, for allowing me to interview you for all my blog readers!