Type 1 Diabetes is hard. It sucks. But you don't have to go it alone.
If you didn't already know, I am a Type 1 diabetic. This essentially means that my pancreas is pretty much non-existent and I have to rely on constant intake of insulin, whether that be through several injections throughout the day or through an insulin pump.
You may know someone with diabetes. Most likely, they are a Type 2 diabetic since it is most common. But type 1 and 2 are quite different. I am not an expert in either, but I know a little more about Type 1 since I live with it every day.
I was diagnosed with Type 1 at age 22 after losing over 70lbs with no explanation whatsoever. I was also always extremely thirsty and going to the bathroom to pee at least every hour. (Read about early symptoms of Type 1 here: http://www.jdrf.org/t1d-resources/symptoms/)
My doctor immediately put me on injections. Every time I ate or my blood sugar was high or right before bed, I had to inject myself. So at least 4 times a day I was stabbing my arm, leg, or belly to give myself what my broken pancreas could no longer make: insulin.
That first year I spent it in denial. I hated injections so I would skip them and eventually I'd go days without taking insulin. My legs were getting so incredibly swollen, they were purple and looking like they'd burst. My vision was so blurry, I stopped reading even though it was my favorite pastime.
Not until October 2015 did I realize how serious my diabetes was. I ended up in the ER. The doctor was shocked and told me if I had been there even an hour later, I would not have made it out of that hospital alive. I was in DKA or Diabetic Ketoacidosis.
That night changed my life.
The next morning, I was woken up by another doctor. He had a friendly smile as he introduced himself and just straight out asked me, "what happened?" I told him how I was in denial. I expected him to be like my doctors in the past who were unsupportive and always reciting the mistakes I was making. Instead, he kept reassuring me that I was lucky to be alive and that he wanted to help me because he believed in me.
After almost a week in the Intensive Care Unit, I went home depleted, but determined enough to want to live. I visited the friendly doctor, Dr. Kissell, early the next week to get me on the right track. My A1C at the hospital was over 17! A healthy diabetic should have an A1C of about 7. (Read more about A1Cs here: https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/tc/what-is-hemoglobin-a1c-topic-overview)
A few months after this scary experience, I met Dana Armstrong, an experienced nutritionist who knows all too well about a young person's life with Type 1 because she has a son with the disease. She immediately encouraged me to go on an insulin pump and glucose sensor.
Now, after a year and a half of living on a pump and sensor, I wouldn't trade it for another injection shot again! (Read more about Insulin Pumps here: https://jdrf.org.uk/information-support/treatments-technologies/insulin-pumps/)
Learning more about this disease has given me power and made me feel more in control, and less confused about my future.
A few months ago, my sister sent me a link to the Taking Control of Your Diabetes website and saw that they hold conferences throughout the year, all over the country, geared towards teaching all types of diabetics and their loved ones how to prevent, treat, and live long healthy lives.
I attended the March 17th conference in Monterey, California with my mom by my side. My mom was in the healthcare field for over two decades, but she specialized in pre-natal care, not diabetes, so she was very excited to learn.
The event was jam-packed! Not just with fellow diabetics, but with companies and organizations working to change the lives of diabetics for the better. I had the chance to learn about other insulin pump and continuous glucose monitoring options, as well as participate in clinical trials.
But the most exciting part: I was in a room full of people experiencing the same challenges that I was on a daily basis.
TCOYD was founded by Dr. Steven Edelman, a fellow Type 1 diabetic who wanted to build a community that offered support, education, and resources to help all diabetics live better lives than they could ever imagine.
The conference was a full day event. Type 1 and 2 diabetes education was offered separately so as to cater more specifically to what people wanted to learn about. My mom and I obviously chose the Type 1 seminar courses.
There were wonderful seminars and panels with endocrinologists, dieticians, and other every day people living with Type 1. It was incredible to learn about where diabetes research is going and how fast technology is advancing to help us keep a closer eye on our disease. It gave me hope.
I teared up several times at the realization that I was not alone and that a cure could be found within my lifetime.
The ultimate TCOYD conference is in San Diego in November and I want to go! If you would like to attend, or know someone who would enjoy learning more about Type 1 or 2 diabetes but don't live near San Diego, no worries! TCOYD holds events throughout the year all over the US. Just check out their website and list of events to see when there will be a gathering close to where you live!
The TCOYD conference, which was actually brought to the Monterey Bay area by my awesome nutritionist, Dana Armstrong, was fun and such an amazing learning experience that I can't wait to go to again. Fingers crossed for San Diego!
If you are a fellow Type 1 "Dia-badass," or would just like to chat more about it with me, feel free to message me using the Contact page, comment on this post or follow and direct message me on Instagram, @brunette_of_vantes!
-The B of V
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