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Type 1 diabetes: a smooth transition from pediatric to adult care at the MUHC

Only 10 percent of people living with diabetes in Canada have type 1 diabetes. Nineteen-year-old Nicolas McGee is one of them.

When Nicolas was a toddler, his daycare monitors used to tell him to stop drinking so much water. His seemingly unquenchable thirst seemed like nothing more than an annoyance until a family friend suggested it was indicative of something serious.

Nicolas’s parents took him to their family doctor, and he was immediately told to go to the emergency. At just five years old, Nicolas was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. From age five to eight, Nicolas had to give himself insulin injections four times a day. He also had to test his blood sugar levels by pricking his fingers.

When Nicolas was eight, the government put in place a pilot project for insulin pumps. He was given a pump for free, something he and his parents were extremely grateful for. The pump was attached to Nicolas like a catheter, and was small enough to fit inside his pocket. He was told to wear it 24/7.

“I was pleasantly surprised to find that the pump made living with diabetes easier. I didn’t have to carry around syringes or stress about giving myself an injection,” he says.  “I relied on the efficiency of a machine that automatically pumped insulin into my system whenever I needed it.”

Nicolas McGee
Nicolas McGee

When he turned 18, Nicolas decided to become an MUHC patient after hearing about Dr. Natasha Garfield’s clinic.

“I set up a clinic for 18-25 years old a few years ago,” explains Dr. Garfield, endocrinologist and Director of the Adult Endocrinology and Metabolism training program at the MUHC. “I wanted to give this young group of adults a smooth transition from the pediatric system. Patients can expect conscientious follow-up care.”

“The transition was seamless,” Nicolas says. “I have a few other endocrine diagnoses in addition to diabetes and Dr. Garfield is an expert in all of them.”

Today Nicolas is nineteen, and enthusiastically pursuing a bachelor’s degree in History and Anthropology at McGill University.

“I love what I’m learning!” he says. “I don’t feel limited by my diabetes diagnosis. My best advice to other diabetics is not to be too hard on yourself. Diabetes care may seem tricky at first, but with time, it becomes a lifestyle.”

On behalf of all those dealing with diabetes, the MUHC wishes to thank Nicolas for sharing his story this #WorldDiabetesDay!