In honor of World Diabetes Day, I wanted to share with you 3 things Type 1 Diabetes has taught me, 3 things I plan to accomplish by World Diabetes Day 2019, and 3 ways you can help spread the word about Type 1 Diabetes.
I have been a "dia-badass" for about 5 years now. And apart from having to grow up, figure out what a 401k is, pay bills before going shopping, pay rent, and do my taxes (basically everything that defines "adulting"), I have had to learn how to manage a disease that can kill me at any moment.
Sounds daunting because it is. But I have learned a lot in these past few years about my disease, myself, and what my body needs in order to stay healthy. Here are the top three things my Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis has taught me:
1. Never be too embarrassed to take care of YOU!
There were times where I would go hours without injecting myself with insulin or checking my blood sugar because I was too embarrassed to take time away from others to do it. I was also embarrassed to admit that I had a deficiency because I didn't want people to see me as weak.
Over the years I've learned that people will respect you for taking time to care for yourself. And most people will have a natural curiosity about your Diabetes. Use it as a chance to educate!
Also, I used to tough it out during the work day, even when my blood sugars were all over the place or I was just not feeling myself. Forget that! Go home, check your blood sugar frequently and call your doctor. You need to be your first priority ALWAYS!
2. Your body is smart and more resilient than you could ever imagine, so listen to it
I have been through Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). I have poked and prodded what feels like my entire body. And yet, I am still here.
Although everyday I am still fearful of developing DKA or getting sick, I have learned that my body is strong. So when I start to feel sick or just not right, I listen to my body, take a step back and analyze. I check my blood sugar, I check my pump injection site, I make sure I have all of my necessary supplies, and I contact my doctor if needed.
Most of the time, I'm fine and there's no need to worry. But if this were a few years ago, I would've ignored how I was physically feeling and just kept on living my life. That is one of the most dangerous things you can do when living with a chronic illness. So listen up and be aware!
3. I am my own advocate
Back when I was initially diagnosed, I was told I had Type 2 Diabetes and was prescribed about 8 oral medications. After realizing I was becoming more sick each day, my mom and I decided to seek other opinions. Three doctors later, I was finally correctly diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. That doctor saved my life.
If I would have accepted the first or second doctor's diagnosis, I would probably have died from my crazy roller-coaster blood sugars or from some sort of complication caused by the incorrect treatment.
Speak up! If you think something isn't right, speak up or find another opinion. You have that right. It is your life. Take control of it.
Once I learned these things about myself and my disease, I wasn't going to let anything stand in my way. This past year I even traveled to Europe for a couple of weeks! That was something I had been wanting to do but felt like was out of the question for someone like me who has to lug around insulin and pump supplies, among other things.
But now that I have accomplished that fear, I know nothing can stand in my way. Here are three things I am going to accomplish in the next year leading up to World Diabetes Day 2019:
1. Participate in a marathon
I am not an athlete, but I do want to up my fitness this year. One thing I would like to accomplish is running a 3 K marathon without the worry of my blood sugars affecting my outcome.
Many times I don't want to work out or exercise for fear of feeling sick. I hate it! So I hope to train a bit and be able to accomplish this goal within the next year.
2. Collaborate with a fellow Type 1 "Diabadass" or a Type 1 organization
Many times it helps to reach out and talk to others that know your struggle. Something that has helped me cope with my diabetes is learning that I am not alone.
Thanks to technology, I have connected with many other Type 1's, some that were born with the disease, others that were diagnosed less than a year ago.
A goal of mine would be to collaborate with another Type 1 Diabetic to show the world that we are a community. That we are strong, and that we are more than our Diabetes.
Or, I would love to collaborate with an organization dedicated to educating people about Diabetes, or are working towards a cure.
3. Become the first Type 1, Latina, plus size fashion blogger to be a part of a campaign (i'm thinking national, maybe even global!)
This is a long stretch, but a goal of mine would be to become a part of something huge that extends over different nationalities, economic levels, and societal standards. This could include a clothing brand campaign, a product promo, a non-profit PSA, etc.
I am not exactly sure how I would accomplish this, but I am going to do it! I want dark haired, brown skin girls and boys born or newly diagnosed with Type 1 to feel like they weren't just handed a death sentence, rather an opportunity; to educate, to empower, to exceed expectations.
Even if you are not a Diabetic, you can always be a part of the push to educate more people about it! Here are a few things you can do to spread awareness:
This walk helps build a stronger Type 1 community while bringing large areas together to walk and raise money for a cure. These walks take place all over the United States, so be sure to check to see when it will be in your area.
Attending a Taking Control of Your Diabetes (TCOYD) conference was truly inspirational as a Type 1 Diabetic. And it was even more for my mom who has neither Type 1 or 2, and really didn't know much about what my disease was about.
The TCOYD conference is an all day event and it takes place throughout the year in several cities around the US. Check their site for upcoming conference dates!
The easiest thing you could do is make a donation to a reputable organization like Beyond Type 1. They strive to teach as many audiences as possible about Type 1 and are loud advocates for the young Type 1 community. They even have a "Snail Mail" program where they help pick out a Pen Pal for you within the Type 1 community.
To learn more, check out Beyond Type 1's website.
Thank you all for reading. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask, but please remember, I am not a doctor, or medical professional, so please consult your doctor when it comes to any medical care or diabetes management plans.
-B of V