Merle Gleeson Type 1 Diabetes Founder

Little did I know, when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a child in 1963, how this monumental event would forever change my life. After a one-week stay in the hospital, I returned home to a life of daily injections and food restrictions. Back then medical conditions were not openly discussed like they are today and there was no support for families and children who were struggling with this disease.  Education wasn’t readily available and very little was known about the management of type 1 diabetes.

It wasn’t until 30 years later that I serendipitously met another person with type 1 diabetes. This encounter led me to reach out to others with whom I could share this part of my life. For the first time, I didn’t feel alone with my diabetes!

The Type 1 Diabetes Lounge was founded in 1997 when I invited three women for coffee to discuss living with diabetes.  Soon after, I secured a conference room at a medical facility for regular monthly meetings. This was the beginning of what has evolved into my long-term commitment to help others cope with our chronic disease. Frustrated by a lack of information and resources available during short doctor visits, I focused on facilitating peer support and education needed to manage type 1 diabetes effectively.

As meeting attendance flourished, we relocated to larger quarters. Our educational programs include medical and technical professionals covering topics such as research updates, cutting-edge technologies, management techniques and lifestyle issues.  Members find supportive peer connections in which to exchange information, feelings, ideas and creative problem solving.  We facilitate additional educational conferences and health fairs including renowned speakers from the University of Chicago, JDRF and the online diabetes community.  Throughout the years, many wonderful relationships have formed with the common bond of living our lives together with our disease.

From a personal perspective, my involvement with other t1d people has helped to reshape how I feel about, and look at, living with this disease.  As a result of these connections, I’m more motivated, educated, and aware of the decisions I make every day!