I remember the first weeks of 9th grade vividly. It was the summer of 2000 and the heat of the tropics was feeling unbearable. I was having unusual, unquenchable thirst. The only thing that seemed to make it better was sugary soda.
But the more I had of those, the thirstier I became.
I was also feeling lethargic and going to the bathroom more than usual.
“You have symptoms of a diabetic person,” both my parents would say.
Nevertheless, they didn’t think their suspicion was actually real. They took me to the doctor, who ordered some lab exams after I practically lost the ability to swallow solid foods. I was only capable of drinking liquids.
The results came back: my blood sugar was over 500mg/dL. My mother almost collapsed.
Although no other relatives had diabetes, she knew what I would have to endure. I, on the other hand, felt relief. I finally knew what was going on inside my body.
Growing Up With Diabetes
Being a diabetic through adolescence did have its challenges.
I didn’t have access to an insulin pump like I do now. In addition, I had an eating schedule (3 meals and 3 snacks) at the same time, every day. I did get used to it, though.
The summer after I was diagnosed, I attended a summer camp for kids with diabetes, sponsored by CEBNAD, a non-profit organization. I had the chance to get to know other people around my age who were engaging in a similar battle.
My parents (especially my mother) and siblings have helped me in every way possible. I remember my mother waking up early -- even on weekends -- to make sure I started the day on the right foot.
My parents were always doing research about new devices or medications that were proven to make living with diabetes easier.
Thriving With Diabetes
Currently, I work as a senior business analyst for a health insurance company.
When I’m not working with numbers, I engage myself in one of my many hobbies. I enjoy running and try to hit the gym a few days a week. The exercise regimen has absolutely contributed to keeping glucose readings in control.
So has my insulin pump. I started using a pump when I was 21 and it changed my life. The insulin pump added flexibility and peace of mind, especially during my college years.
The supplies from One Drop have eased managing diabetes as well; I’m on the unlimited test strips subscription. It’s easy to make an order and the app provides great insight about how well I’m controlling my blood sugars.
Nature has a great impact in my wellbeing, too. I live on a Caribbean island with plenty of beaches and mountains. I have a very supportive partner by my side, and we are always up to come kind of exploring and adventuring!
My two dogs have also been super helpful with my diabetes. On a few instances, I’ve had very low blood sugar episodes while sleeping; my dogs alerted me to safety.
I also like to sing -- I’ve been part of the Camerata Coral de Puerto Rico (a chamber choir) for the last 9 years -- and have participated as an actor in plays and commercials.
The Silver Lining
Living with diabetes may seem challenging sometimes, but it’s not impossible.
Whenever I experience some sort of disappointment, I think about all the things I have accomplished and the goals I continue to pursue.
The stories I read about other people with diabetes conquering their dreams serve as an inspiration. I hope to live a long life, doing what I love, surrounded by the people I love.
And I give it my best shot everyday.