Photo By: Photos courtesy of Carb DM
Supporting those affected by Type 1 diabetes is truly a labor of love for Los Altos’ Tamar Sofer-Geri.
When her daughter Tia was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in January 2009, Sofer-Geri sought other affected families confronting the same challenges associated with the disease.
After attending a gathering of Type 1 diabetic families through Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Sofer-Geri became inspired.
“I remember that she was in heaven,” Sofer-Geri said of her daughter’s reaction to socializing with other Type 1 diabetics at the event. “It was like, ‘Oh, my God, she found her people.’”
With a desire to foster a sense of community – and support – for her daughter and others affected by the condition, she started Carb DM, a non-profit support group for Type 1 diabetics based out of Los Altos. Sofer-Geri founded the group in April 2011 and gained official 501(c)3 status in October.
“It’s about support, information and education,” she said. “We’re really just focused on those families with Type 1 diabetes.”
Living with Type 1 diabetes
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), only 5 percent of the nation’s 25.8 million diabetics have Type 1 diabetes, which is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. It is also commonly referred to as juvenile diabetes.
The autoimmune disease, according to the ADA, prevents the body from producing insulin, needed to convert sugar, starches and other foods into energy. There is no known cure for the affliction.
“You don’t outgrow Type 1 diabetes,” said Sofer-Geri, who serves as executive director of Carb DM.
Living with Type 1 diabetes typically requires stringent monitoring of blood glucose levels and administering insulin shots, among other lifestyle adjustments, Sofer-Geri said. She noted that monitoring her daughter’s blood glucose level requires “due diligence” and often includes adjusting the amount of insulin injected based on the amount of carbohydrates ingested, she said.
Other factors such as exercise, common illnesses and hormones also influence her daughter’s blood sugar level.
“You can do everything right, and (the blood sugar level) can still be off,” said Sofer-Geri, who checks her 12-year-old daughter eight to 12 times daily, including in the middle of the night.
It’s because of the condition’s imperfect nature that Sofer-Geri’s non-profit group organizes and hosts numerous free support groups geared toward parents, teens and children with Type 1 diabetes.
For instance, Sofer-Geri points to the support group “Coffee and Carbs,” specifically designed for parents to come together and exchange ideas and strategies on how to handle various everyday situations.
“What do you do with sleepovers, sports or birthday parties?” Sofer-Geri posed, noting some of the typical topics discussed during support-group gatherings. “There are so many facets to this and, really, it’s the other parents who are the experts on this.”
Although her organization is still in its infancy, Sofer-Geri readily admits she envisions bigger things for Carb DM. Chief among her goals is to find a permanent space for Carb DM to set up shop and provide a one-stop destination for families that depend on its support services. The group is currently funded through in-kind and monetary donations.
“It will be the hub for the local Type 1 diabetes community,” said Sofer-Geri, who currently alternates her support-group meetings among a handful of locations.
In the meantime, Sofer-Geri said there’s comfort in knowing there are others who encounter the same struggles her family does every day.
“It gets easier, but it never gets easy,” she said. “You’re never used to the roller coaster that it is. Diabetes is not something you can ever control. You just manage it the best way you can.”
For more information, visit www.carbdm.org.