Extreme Adventure Series Team

Meet the Extreme Adventure Series Team for 2018

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Laura Thiessen

I have always had this deep desire/need to help others and this has driven me to the person I have become today. I am currently a Registered Nurse and strive everyday to make each of my patients day better and hopefully put a smile on their face to remind them of the good in life despite the challenges they are facing in the hospital.

I bring this same attitude to my T1D community and I am always searching/looking for the latest development in T1D care. I have built an OpenAPS device which has shown me that I am even more driven, resourceful and smarter then I thought possible! The Open Artificial Pancreas System project (#OpenAPS) is an open and transparent effort to make safe and effective basic Artificial Pancreas System (APS) technology. This however would never have been possible without all the support of the online community, everyone should check out the OpenAPS and nightscout communities to see all the available and affordable options that exist for T1D and parents of T1D to increase the safety for their children.

I am a strong advocate and I strive to educate others, as I can see how many would find this process overwhelming, but when you have someone who can demonstrate it in front of you, it seems to make the impossible possible! I also have taken a non-mainstream approach to my T1D care and it has worked out great for me personally. So I also advocate for others to find what works for their own T1D management and stick with it! I have utilized exercise within my management and I love to work out. There are a lot of challenges with being T1D and being physically active and all the randomness and safety that needs to be consistently monitored. T1D is basically like having a full time job of keeping yourself alive and safe.

Doing this backpacking trip will not only allow me to test my OpenAPS system taking it offline using a solar panel to keep all my devices up and running, but will allow me to have an amazing adventure where I will safe as I will be surrounded by others who truly understand how to take care of me in case anything happens with my T1D, be it supplies or a low BG. I am so excited for this trip and cant wait to be able to speak on how my OpenAPS system works up in the mountains!


Davis Jamieson

The west coast trail is a long and difficult hike with or without diabetes. My first trip with ICD was life changing and I want to help others who might be struggling in the same ways I was. Diabetes comes with an extra set of challenges just like anything else in life, and facing these challenges can be scary alone. Our team is made up of experienced diabetics who can all help to face these challenges.

As an avid outdoor adventurer, I feel like I could be a big help on this trip and would love the opportunity to help people in need. I have been on multiple outdoor adventure trips since I was diagnosed with diabetes and I feel I have a specific skill set with my knowledge of diabetes and the wilderness. Diabetes has never stopped me from doing the things I love, it just adds an extra set of things to think about. I want to help people become more comfortable living with diabetes so they can all do the things they love, weather its hiking, biking, climbing or anything else.

I love to race mountain bikes, and one of the biggest struggles of racing with diabetes is preventing lows. Unlike some team driven sports mountain biking is all you, with no breaks in the race one of the techniques I like to use is a camel back. Unlike most people who fill their camel back with water for hydration, I fill mine with juice to prevent lows and ride with a water bottle to stay hydrated. I think with my experience and willingness to help would make me a great addition to the team for the west coast trail, and I would love if you could help to get me there!

Boys and Coley April 2017

Alex Sondraal

Personally I don’t have diabetes but my little brother has had it for as long as I can remember. The scariest moment in my life was when I was little and my brother randomly had a seizure and started foaming at the mouth. While my parents rushed to check his sugar and inject him with glucagon. Images of a table with 3 chairs, and a GameCube with only one controller flooded my mind. I became terrified that this would be the last time I would see him. I felt helpless, all I desired was to somehow wake him up and just go play a game. I can also recall many camping trips where my parents would stress about taking care of Chris. Once the cooler holding his insulin heated up and the insulin became ineffective. I watched as my parents would give Chris 2-3 times the amount of insulin, in order to get the needed effect. So, even though I haven’t experienced the disease first hand. I have seen how it can have an effect on a persons, and their caregivers, perception of diabetic limitations. These limitations can range from, being annoyed that there isn’t enough insulin in your pump to drink a jumbo slurpee. To contemplating what would happen if world war 3 broke out and there were no more pharmacies to get insulin. This of course is a very unlikely extreme, and given no major disaster happens a diabetic can live a happy life.

But it does highlight a very real effect of diabetes. A diabetic’s reliance on specific medical tools to maintain their heath, can fester a false notion of being tethered to home. This promotes a possible unwillingness to explore nature. This unwillingness is not an intrinsic symptom of diabetes. But a fear induced way of thinking, caused by a skill that has not yet been learnt. For some going into a situation that allows them to learn these skills is too scary. It is easier for them to stay within their comfort zone. For these people I would say that they aren’t scared of their diabetes, but lack the confidence needed to test their range of living. And therefore are scared of the unknown not their circumstance of birth. The best way to get over this fear is to get people to help them face it. So they can build the confidence needed to broaden their horizons. I personally realize that connecting with a forests of firs, bubbling streams and the song of a loon completes me spiritually. Additionally, rejoining with this ancient paradise is key to achieving a fulfilling life.

This is where Chris Jarvis’s “I Challenge Diabetes” fits in. He has helped to revolutionize what it means to be a diabetic. By challenging his limits and experiencing sights that diabetics in the past would have never thought possible. He and his organization have the means and knowledge to teach diabetics, how to venture safely through the outback. As well, teach the techniques needed to manage their sugars for days on end in the beautiful Mother Nature. Yes, making happy memories is a big part of the trips. But the most important part is proving that they too can handle their sugars, even in seemingly unlikely places. This realization gives them the confidence to expand their possibilities, and be able to care for themselves in all aspects of life. Regardless of the adventure they wish to take next.

A philosopher said “confidence and contentment is the first step toward happiness”


Lisa Hill

When I hiked the West Coast Trail last summer with three friends from work, it was my first multi-day hike since college. As my insurance was not yet covering CGM, I was on a blood sugar roller coaster at times. When my sack of Hammer Gels and Clif Bloks was mistakenly taken from the Bonilla bear cache by a couple of gals headed in the other direction, it only added to the fun. This year, I am looking forward to hiking the trail a second time armed with wisdom from last year’s adventure along with my trusty CGM.

Having been diagnosed with T1D in 1985 at 17, I have spent over 30 years living like a person without diabetes who happens to need extra planning regarding pump sites and blood sugar. I didn’t know any better than to play varsity ice hockey, join the volunteer ski patrol, ride dirt bikes, run marathons and generally have as much fun as I could afford while balancing full-time work as a critical care nurse. My 2 Springer Spaniels, Max and Eli, are my constant companions. Max, who is also a St. John Ambulance therapy dog, will be joining the Tobermory Adventure Camp in July.

I am super excited to hike the WCT with other adventurous T1D’s; I know we will develop new skills in living with T1D while accomplishing something that even most non-diabetics won’t attempt. My background as an advanced first aider and ICU/ER nurse gives me confidence that I can be of assistance if needed on the trail.


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