Anita

 
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Age: 37 Year Diagnosed: 1998 Location: Chicago, IL

“Well, early in my diagnosis, I was at the bowling alley and we were going to grab some food. So I gave myself my injection for what I wanted to order. Unfortunately, my dad got held up and by the time he was ready get us something to eat, my glucose levels had bottomed out and (I was told - because I don't remember) I was jumping from table top to table top dancing while the workers of the bowling alley were trying to get me down!

The more you fight against this disease the harder you will find it to be! I say this all the time but we should not try so hard to be "normal"! Anyone who has ever accomplished anything in life was never considered "normal"! So let's our amazing DiaBadAss selves!


Scott

 
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Age: 44 Year Diagnosed: 1980 Location: San Marcos, Ca

“1) Find a way to tell your story – There is SO MUCH POWER in your experience of living with diabetes! The world needs to hear what your daily walk with diabetes looks and feels like. Someone out there needs your voice. 2) Get connected with others – There are so many approaches and solutions to the problems and challenges we face with diabetes. Connecting with others exposes us to perspectives we never would have thought of on our own! It also gives us the opportunity to be inspired to push beyond what we ever thought possible. “

Monica

 
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Age: 24 Year Diagnosed: 2003 Location: Los Angeles, Ca

“In the 6th grade I got an in school suspension for giving myself insulin (in the nurses bathroom) for my lunch. Needless to say, we switched schools the following year.

I started wearing my dexcom on my arms, 1. for comfort 2. because every time I wore it on my arms I noticed kids would come up to me and ask if I was also a diabetic. I was embarrassed my whole adolescence and had secret code signs with my mum for my diabetes care when we were in public. So when a kid comes up to me and talks openly and shows me their dex, pump site, etc.. and we are both so excited about it- I just know I would've felt so empowered and more brave to go ahead with being public about my diabetes at a younger age!

My diabetes life hack is to put your pump in a baby sock if you are slipping it inside your clothes against your skin- I swear by it! It absorbs everything.”



Lauren

 
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Age: 31 Year Diagnosed: 2007 Location: Philadelphia, PA

“I try to live each day with a grateful heart.   Diabetes can get the best of us and most days are less than perfect.  I recently started being conscious of my word choice.  Instead of saying, I have to…,” I try to say, ‘I get to…’. This can be applied to every part of life, but it is especially helpful with diabetes.  If you know your history, we are living in the most ideal time to have diabetes with all the technology that has been developed. Not very long ago, things like glucose meters didn’t exist.  The only way for a diabetic to test was through urine throughout the day.  Now we have the ability to test anytime right at our fingertips (pun intended).  So for me, it’s not ‘I have to test my blood sugar so many times a day,’ it’s “I get to test my blood sugar so many times a day (because so many before me didn’t have this opportunity).”  It personally helps me focus on the good, not the bad.”

 

Austin

 
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Age: 42 Year Diagnosed: 1985 Location: Los Angeles, Ca

“When I was 10 years old, I had a hypoglycemic seizure. It was an eye-opening experience for me. Less than 2 years after being diagnosed, my pancreas was still producing some insulin & my daily doses hadn’t been adjusted to factor this in yet. It’s foggy, but I remember every detail of that night: my father carrying me down the stairs & trying to control my flailing arms; my panicked mother drawing up a glucagon shot while on the phone with my doctor & the 9-1-1 operator; my terrified little brother in the corner, crying. In the course of the night, I full-out slapped our neighbor, and bit both my father AND mother- to the point of needing a tetanus shot! The memories that are most vivid for me are those of my family & how they’ve been affected. When I first started dating my wife, I had an extreme low blood sugar reaction & the one thing that snapped me out of it was her tears- her worry. The ‘Dia-BEAST’ is not exclusive to only us diabetics. It’s easily transmittable to those around us. Even our friends & family lose sleep over it. So I think it’s very important to remember when we’re talking about kids or adults with Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes, we also include the communities around them that share in the daily struggle. It’s never-ending, but hopefully one day that will change.

Be kind to yourselves. There are lots of rules, restrictions & responsibilities that come with T1D that could wear down even the most resilient person. Make it a point to approach life with a grain of salt (or sugar) & allow yourself to do ‘everything in moderation’ so you don't burn out too quickly.”



Zoe

 
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Age: 21 Year Diagnosed: 2018 Location: Austin, TX

“Don’t let diabetes define you. When I was diagnosed I thought my life was over, turns out it was just beginning. When I was first diagnosed I truly was nervous about what people were going to think of me. It took me 2 weeks to become public with my diagnosis and it’s the best decision I could have ever made. Everyone was so supportive and loving. And I have met some of the most AMAZING people due to this journey. It has also opened up a lot of amazing opportunities for me! I am proud of my diabetes, and proud of myself!!”


Brooke

 
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Age: 26 Year Diagnosed: 2015 Location: Austin, TX

“Community is EVERYTHING and I have fallen in love with Type One's ‘in the wild’. You are out there kicking butt and you don't have to be alone.

Bring questions to your doctor! Don't let them be the only one's talking during your appointments. Ask for tips in specific situations or questions that have come up in your everyday life that can help you.”



Amy

 
 
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Age: 26 Year Diagnosed: 2008 Location: Austin, Tx

“I’m a trial attorney and have passed the Texas Bar Exam. My biggest fears used to be my devices beeping or malfunctioning during a law school exam, a lecture or during the bar exam or going low and not being able to bounce back quickly enough. I started applying for test accommodations in law school and for the bar exam simply because I didn’t know accommodations were allowed in high school and college. In high school, I had to take off my pod in order to be admitted into the ACT because I didn’t know there were any alternatives to the “no electronics” rule.

I’ve traveled all over the world - Guatemala, Oman, Dubai, Argentina, Morocco, Italy to name a few - and I’ve studied abroad for months at a time in Brazil and in Madrid. It never occurred to me that I shouldn’t go or that it was dangerous to travel with type one diabetes. I always packed backups of backups and made sure to tell my friends. The only time I’ve had an issue was when my Omnipod pump malfunctioned and stopped working in Guatemala with a week left to go before coming home. I shrugged it off and switched to injections for the rest of the trip. Now, I travel with a backup PDM.

I’ve never believed anyone when they’ve told me to be more careful or not do something because I have type one diabetes. I believe that with enough planning, I won’t ever be limited by T1D. Take the testing accommodations, tell people around you about what you need from them, and make diabetes fit into your plans.”


Michelle

 
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Age: 27 Year Diagnosed: 2008 Location: Los Angeles, Ca

“When I was about 12 years old I was on a youth group trip that had a chaperone who was diabetic. Me, being 12, had no idea what it was and me, being annoying, asked the million questions that kids ask. Why are you taking a shot? Does it hurt? What does it do? You have to do that forever?? But I remember him having such a light-hearted, funny attitude about it. He was really good at wake boarding and when he would do a trick he'd just shrug it off like "yeah, it's because I am diabetic". Fast-forward to my diagnosis 4 years later, and I remembered his attitude about it and making it seem "cool" rather than hiding it. I'm not a cool person, but I always strive to mimic his attitude about it - especially around younger kids. It's a good way to teach about it, make others more comfortable to ask questions, change stigmas, and just have fun with it rather than hiding it and shying away from possible judgement.

I think the best thing that has really helped me improve my taking care of myself is finding a doctor who advocates for me and takes an approach to make my diabetes fit my lifestyle, rather than trying to force me to have a lifestyle that accommodates my diabetes. I've always taken "okay" care of myself, but having a doctor (and nurse, CDE, etc.) who all want me to be better helps motivate me to not disappoint them. I've had so many doctors in the past who I've dreaded going to appointments with because it was never a positive experience. The timing of finding a new doctor came in tandem with me personally wanting to take care of myself better, getting more active, and tracking food choices and blood sugar effects more closely - but having a medical team who is there to cheer on the efforts is really motivating. My doctor was the first to introduce me to Afrezza, and my nurse spent the better part of 5 months to get it prescribed to me. Find a doctor who doesn't put you in a box and only has a textbook solution of how to manage your diabetes, and will advocate, motivate, and support you through the ups and downs (literally) of T1D.”



Libby

 
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Age: 45 Year Diagnosed: 2017 Location: Palm Springs, Ca

“The majority of my life is spent traveling and living in hotels. While visiting Central America when I was 43 years old, I caught the flu, and never got better. I returned to the U.S. just in time to get to an Emergency room. I was in Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) and they mis-diagnosed me with type 2 diabetes. I ended up in the ER twice more until finally being diagnosed correctly with type 1 diabetes and getting insulin. I was depressed and overwhelmed for the first few months. I stopped traveling and rented an apartment, but that was depressing too. Wonderful T1D communities and adult T1D camps inspired me to gain a new great attitude. T1D is an annoyance, but I am healthy and strong and can do virtually everything I used to. That’s why I’m back to full time travel and living life to its fullest. Hooray!”

Kevin

 
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Age: 29 Year Diagnosed: 1997 Location: Los Angeles, Ca

“I never had a support group for diabetes growing up. I used to harbor a lot of self-hate in regard to it all. I’ve always taken good care of it, but I hated being ousted for being disabled and needing special treatment. I found it easier to just not talk about my experiences with the disease and just talk about it generally. I remember actively avoiding other diabetics because they only reminded me of what I have and what I deal with daily. Recently I started following different support groups and I found that that a lot of the thoughts I’ve had about myself were shared, and overcome, by a lot of other people! It’s all really helped me accept that I have a disability and that I’m not alone. Having others who understand you and what you struggle with is worth its weight in gold.”


Emily

 
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Age: 27 Year Diagnosed: 2017 Location: Philadelphia, PA

“I have 2 close family members who have Type 1 Diabetes. After I was diagnosed I was in complete shock about how much I didn’t know about Type 1. They both choose to keep their diabetes private. They find bathrooms to do injections and finger pokes, so naturally I thought that was “normal”. I remember my first public diabetes encounter was on an airplane two days after I was diagnosed. I was sitting in the middle seat with one of my nanny kids sleeping to the right of me and a lady sitting to the left of me. I was hungry and had to make a decision between waking a sleeping toddler to go to the bathroom to check my blood sugar and give an insulin injection or suck it up and do everything in front of a complete stranger. I chose to wake the sleeping toddler and go into the bathroom. However, I quickly realized that method was not going to work for me and slowly became more and more comfortable with doing all things diabetes in public. I now love having natural opportunities to educate people. It usually only takes one injection, finger prick, or wearing my medical device in plane site to get a conversation started.”


Charlotte

 
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Age: 3 Year Diagnosed: 2017 Location: Austin, TX

“Having a toddler diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes is HARD, and then adding in special needs makes it even harder. My parents tell me all the time how much credit they give to parents of Type 1 Diabetics before CGMs were around. Take it day-by-day and night-by-night, as no two will ever be alike. There will be a lot of sleepless nights dealing with highs and lows. Just when you think you’ve got the dosing figured out, it will all change. Don’t hesitate to try new things or listen to advice from other parents; we are all in this together. The majority of what my parents have learned about Type 1 Diabetes wasn’t from a doctor, rather trial and error and other parents who have been in a similar situation. Do what works for you and your child and at the end of the day, as my Daddy says, ‘If you have a tough day, Diabetes may have won the battle but it will never win the war’.”


Wendy

 
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Age: 27 Year Diagnosed: 1994 Location: Los Angeles, Ca

“From cooking and carb-counting to bolusing and balancing, my mom had always done everything for me. On my first day of middle school, she even took the day off work to drive me to school so that she could give me my lunchtime injection. The school nurse was livid. She insisted that I must do this on my own, and asked my mom if she planned to take every day off work to do this for me. Embarrassed, we both stared at her, knowing that she was right, but neither of us was ready to take the next step. Nonetheless, Nurse Sue grabbed the syringe from my mom's hand and forced it into mine. My heart raced, and I started to sweat--I had never felt so anxious, helpless, and nervous altogether. But I also knew that Nurse Sue would not relent, and I was getting hungry. So I took a deep breath--or five--and gave myself my first injection ever. As I withdrew the syringe from my arm, I heard my mom's deep sigh of relief and Nurse Sue exclaim, "See?! That was easy." Even though I was so intimidated by--and mad at--Nurse Sue in that moment, I came to realize that that was a major turning point in my life. It was the start of me managing my health on my own. More importantly, it was my first taste of empowerment when it came to diabetes.

There is so much I want to share for advice, but I'll narrow it down to a couple of things: 1. When I was much younger, I used to think that nobody would want to date me because they wouldn't want to deal with the blood, the insulin, the needles... But the fact that I have T1D has not scared anybody away! People will care and help more than you think, and if they don't, then they probably aren't worth dating anyway. 2. Community is crucial. It can be easy to feel alone in our T1D management because we aren't necessarily surrounded by other diabetics daily. But there is such a large community out there (especially here on Instagram), and it's so wonderful to reach out to and meet others who not only support you through your struggle, but also really understand it.”

Keegan

 
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Age: 20 Year Diagnosed: 2004 Location: Huntington Beach, Ca

“This isn't necessarily funny but it is a pretty wild story. My senior year of high school I was sitting in the cafeteria about to give myself an insulin shot for lunch when one of my deans approached me and informed me that I wasn't actually allowed to do that inside the cafeteria because someone might see a needle and it might make them uncomfortable. I responded that I'd been doing this for three and a half years and no one seems to have a problem with it, nor do I really care if it makes them uncomfortable, as I literally had to do it to survive. He told me I needed to go to a restroom or the nurse's office, which I told him was a ridiculous thing to ask of me, not to mention I had doctors' notes and paperwork that legally allowed me to give myself insulin on campus. He then got mad and told me to immediately follow him to the deans office which I agreed to, only after I gave myself a shot, which I did as I kept talking to him. He didn't like that, and angrily escorted me out of the cafeteria with all my friends yelling at him for discriminating against me for having a disease. I ended up calmly explaining my disease to my deans who were extremely ignorant of the treatment that is required for Type 1 Diabetes and ended up not being disciplined at all, though the one dean never apologized. Not the funniest story but pretty interesting nonetheless, it was really eye-opening to see how ignorant people really are of our disease.

Just in case any kids or parents of newly diagnosed Type 1's are reading this, having Type 1 Diabetes shouldn't stop you from doing anything. If anything, it should make it easier to do everything. Knowing that you have an invisible, chronic illness and are beating it everyday you wake up gives me motivation to do virtually anything I set my mind to. If you have Type 1, you can do anything a "normal" person can do, and probably even better, because you already have the experience of dealing with adversity on such a constant basis. Keep a positive outlook, embrace the fact that having Type 1 has made you who you are, and don't ever try to hide having Type 1.

Don't try to be perfect. Everybody has their good days and bad days, all you can do is try to stay positive and be glad you wake up every morning having survived another day with Type 1. People will always have better A1C's with you, but as long as you're trying to manage your numbers the best you can and keeping your head up, don't stress it too much and try to enjoy life. As long as you're not doing it everyday, don't be afraid to have that donut or eat a whole pizza if you're really feeling it, just make sure you correct for it and watch your numbers carefully. Also, be active and work out. Staying active everyday makes insulin way more effective on my blood sugar levels and makes managing Type 1 so much easier.”

Kylie

 
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Age: 25 Year Diagnosed: 2005 Location: Torrance, Ca

“I was out with my friends one night, and this guy came up to me and touched my Dexcom. I told him not to touch me, but he kept poking it and asking what it was. Luckily, my friends were there and told him to back off. Some people are curious about my devices and others are just rude. Another guy came up to me at the gym, pointed to my Dex and asked, ‘Is that where the aliens plug you in at night?’ I didn’t even know him!

Aside from the physical and emotional stress diabetes brings, I’ve struggled a lot with health insurance and getting the right supplies. Find an endo that you trust and that will push to get the things you need!”


Camelia

 
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Age: 26 Year Diagnosed: 2018 Location: San Diego, CA

“I wanted to write something great, amazing, incredible. I thought about what to write and what exactly I wanted to say. Sure, I thought about telling my story. Long story short I was in DKA, 85lbs. and grateful I was alive. I had all the common symptoms like that unquenchable thirst (which is real AF), frequent urination, weight loss, constant hunger. It hasn't even been a year since diagnosis and it already has been quite the journey. It's been a fast learning experience and a huge adjustment to my life. To be honest, I just want to share some of my feelings and thoughts I went through. I thought of diabetes as most people thought, which was caused by unhealthy lifestyle. I was embarrassed to tell my friends I have type 1 diabetes for that exact reason. It's not caused by that (google it). I was depressed about diagnosis for a months. It was very hard to accept that my body didn't work like "normal". I was different. Along with being different, I've struggled with self confidence. I'm thankfully at a healthy weight now, but I think of my weight before all this. I've never been at this weight. Also having a CGM on me is different, but it literally saves my life. So why should I be self conscious about that? I was so concerned about what other people thought that I lost sight of what I thought of myself. My body is my home, and I'm healthy now. Although this illness has put me through tons of emotions, it doesn't control me. Sure, it might have me pause when my blood sugar is low, but I will drink some juice or something and continue on. From the finger pokes, to counting carbs, shots, site changes, literal highs and lows. It's constantly on my mind. But it doesn't define me. It has truly made me a stronger person. It's a part of me. And it's a part of me that I could hate or that I could love. I choose to love it.”

Yaniv

 
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Age: 26 Year Diagnosed: 2002 Location: Los Angeles, Ca

“I remember when diabetes used to severely impact my dating life. I was embarrassed by the tubes, patches and needles that seemed to be everywhere all the time. The tube would get tangled up on things, or even caught on door handles going into classrooms in high school. I would have to stop and explain, saying "this isn't a pager" or cut it off even more briefly with "it's nothing". Things have changed drastically now as I know this is something I couldn't control getting diagnosed with or anything and I own it. I make jokes about my Omnipod being an old school Palm Pilot because to me, humor allows us to deal with anything and shows strength in handling any situation.”


Rachel

 
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Age: 34 Year Diagnosed: 1988 Location: Los Angeles, Ca

‘Having had T1D for so long, it’s easy to think I know everything. NOT SO! Making the effort (for the first time in 30+ years) to learn from other diabetics in this network has been super useful.”


Courtney

 
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Age: 28 Year Diagnosed: 2004 Location: Chicago, IL

“The amount of times I get asked if my pump is a pager still astounds me--what year is this? Too much. At least sometimes I get mistaken for a doctor on call when my pump is yelling at me in a class at the gym. Alas, I am a middle school reading teacher. ;) I used to be pretty uncomfortable with questions about my devices or telling people about my diabetes in general, but now I really see it as an important opportunity to educate people and clear up misconceptions about Type 1. I mean, I didn’t know much about diabetes either until I had to! While you still get some rude people that feel like they can ask you anything or assume things about you (like my high school security guard that tried to rip my pump off my body thinking it was a cell phone), in general people have good intentions. It’s cool to see all the compassionate questions my students, friends, and coworkers will have and how much they are genuinely interested in learning about diabetes. Now, I wearing my dex and pump with pride, y’all!

Something I’ve struggled with that I’m sure pretty much everyone with Type 1 has, is accepting this hand we’ve been dealt. I was diagnosed right before going to high school, and diabetes definitely had an effect on how I navigated the world as a young adult. Just as everyone was looking for independence from their parents, I was suddenly completely reliant on them again and apprehensive about going out into the world and trying new things. I had to re-learn how to do basically everything someone does in their daily life through the lens of diabetes. It was a great source of anxiety and self-consciousness for me for many years. Fifteen years later, I still get frustrated about the mental and physical toll that diabetes demands of us every day, and how different my life might be without this challenge. While it is easy to feel resentment about the extra (several) balls we are constantly juggling, I am recognizing with time that in many ways, having diabetes has shaped me irrevocably as a person in ultimately positive ways. I am more in tune with my own body and feel so much gratitude for the functions it does perform on its own. I am tougher and more resilient than I would have been. I have valuable perspective when smaller problems in life arise. I have greater empathy for those also struggling with illness. One of my goals for this year is to not let diabetes frustrate me as much as it has in the past or hold me back from anything I want to do.

If I have any advice for new diabetics, it is to get and stay connected with other Type 1’s! Personally, I am still working on this--I tend to internalize all my frustrations, fears, questions. This is probably because I knew very few other Type 1’s growing up and felt that this was just something it was my responsibility to deal with. Just recently, I’ve found this community on Instagram and made efforts to reach out to other diabetics, like volunteering at a diabetes camp last summer. Let me tell you, these have been the coolest experiences! Why haven’t I done this before?! I’ve had diabetes for 15 years, and it’s still amazing to me to get to have a conversation with someone that just totally gets it. The instant connection that comes from conversations that use all the terms that it feels like nobody else has to know and express all the feelings you normally only have in your own head. Type 1 touches almost every part of our lives, so I really regret keeping it to myself for so long! Vulnerability is truly a strength when it comes to diabetes. We’re all here for each other in this thing, unlike anything else I’ve experienced, and that’s pretty awesome.”