Children’s of Alabama nurse Tanya Nethery knows first-hand the challenges of living with diabetes. After receiving her diagnosis of type 1 diabetes in 1978, Tanya remained a patient at Children’s for 14 years.
Tanya learned how to manage her diabetes and has faced many of the same challenges as her patients – from paying extra attention to nutrition at a very young age to frequent visits to the doctor to insulin therapy. These shared experiences allow her to connect with patients on a personal level, and it is because she faced these challenges that Tanya knew she wanted to become a nurse and specialize in the care of those with type 1 diabetes.
“I knew I wanted to work at Children's of Alabama so I could help other diabetics and their families live with diabetes,” she said. “It is a full-time job to live with diabetes or care for someone with diabetes.” In 2004, Tanya’s daughter was also diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. “Everyone during mine and my daughter's journey at Children’s was filled with encouragement, knowledge and understanding,” Tanya said.
Tanya tries to offer that same encouragement to her patients and reminds them and their parents every day to “stay positive,” but she knows from her own experience there are times when diabetes burnout can take over. “I have lived with type 1 diabetes for 41 years,” she said. “It gets frustrating for myself, my daughter and those families who I meet in the clinic on a daily basis. When that happens, I tell them my story.”
Tanya shares with her patients her personal experience of living with diabetes in hopes that it will encourage them to continue putting forth effort to take care of themselves and to remind them they are not alone.
“They are cared for by not only their family, but their care team as well,” she said. “We are very blessed to have this hospital in our state who specializes in care for all types of childhood illnesses, especially diabetes.”