Alicia McGriskin has lived – and lived well! – with diabetes since her diagnosis at 12 years old. She approaches her diabetes management with confidence and ease, despite her high-pressure job as a police officer and her role as a busy mom of three. All of this makes her a true diabetes hero.
Currently an officer with the Peterborough Police Service, she is now in her 10th year of service there. As a front-line officer, she generally works on her own, and also often gets involved at crime scenes as a “scenes of crime” officer, gathering evidence.
Recently she was involved at the scene of an armed robbery of a pharmacy. Some of the evidence that she collected there – including DNA samples – helped to solve the crime, “which was quite exciting,” says Alicia. In early October 2012 Alicia saved a drowning man. She removed her protective, climbed a fence at the water's edge and dove into the river. She swam to the area where the man was last seen, dove to the bottom of the river and grabbed onto him. She then managed to pull him to the surface and, using the personal flotation device, bring him safely to shore. As a result of this act of heroism, in November 2013, Alicia was awarded the Ontario Medal for Police Bravery at Queens Park.
She is also a coach officer, which entails training new recruits for three-month periods.
Alicia is married with two stepsons, Jayden, 14, and Bryson, 10. Two years ago, she and her husband welcomed a baby girl to the family, “which is the biggest thing that’s happened to us in the last few years!” she says. Little Grace arrived safe and sound in 2014 after a fairly uneventful pregnancy.
While her diabetes management was good during that time, it necessitated an even closer focus on blood glucose control and involved more healthcare appointments. “My pregnancy certainly gave me a different perspective on my diabetes management, because it wasn’t just affecting me anymore,” she recalls. “It was also affecting the person growing inside of me.”
An avid athlete, Alicia plays ball hockey and baseball. She is also a committed marathon runner, and did her second half-marathon when her daughter was just 7 months old. This past autumn, she completed a “Tough Mudder” endurance event at Mount St. Louis Moonstone resort in Coldwater, Ontario. Tough Mudder events are held all over the world, and feature courses that are 16 to 19 kilometres long and include 20 to 25 obstacles. The Mount St. Louis Moonstone “Tough Mudder” was 17 kilometres long and featured 24 obstacles.
Alicia’s goals for the next few years are clear: “The biggest thing I want to do is maintain the healthy lifestyle that I have,” she says. “It’s hard to know where this disease will take you.”
Alicia takes inspiration from the people in her life who are closest to her. One of her biggest inspirations is her father, a dairy farmer in Norwood, Ontario. “My dad was one of 10 kids, and his father died when he was just a teenager, so he had to take on a pretty big role to help the family,” she says. “He always wanted to be a farmer, but people told him that it would never happen, and he proved them wrong.”
Her other significant inspiration is her daughter Grace. Says Alicia, “She keeps me on my feet, and continues to give me a reason to stay healthy.”
“When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, it sounded like my life would be full of restrictions and challenges,” she adds. “I don’t feel any of that now. There are bumps in the road and hurdles, but I don’t consider myself different in any way at all. I live a normal life.”
With respect to her pump therapy, Alicia says, “It is going wonderfully! I have no complaints whatsoever.” When she first started her job as a police officer she was still injecting insulin, so controlling her blood glucose levels could be quite chaotic at times. Currently, she is using an Animas® OneTouch Ping® pump with a Dexcom G4® PLATINUM continuous glucose monitoring system, and says that is has made a “huge difference” with respect to her lifestyle and her diabetes management. “The freedom it affords, and the ease of diabetes control, is remarkable,” she says.
Pump therapy is “a constant, for sure,” notes Alicia. But she credits her healthcare team at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre for providing her with the necessary support and resources to help her along her diabetes journey. “I have such a wonderful team, I can’t say enough about them,” she says. “For anyone considering pump therapy, I’d tell them, ‘just do it!’”
While she acknowledges that diabetes is like a roller coaster ride, with all its ups and downs, “At the end of it all it’s worth it,” says Alicia. “It takes time and work, but you can’t be afraid to do what you want to do, and you can’t let diabetes stop you from accomplishing what you want to do in life.”
Sage words of advice from a top cop and a top mom!
Animas Canada first spoke with Alicia in 2013. You can read her original story here.
The inspiration section and articles have been made possible by and sponsored by Animas Canada.