WRITTEN BY: Marisol Estrada
I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at the age of 12. Prior to being diagnosed, I had the typical diabetes symptoms. I lost a lot of weight, was always thirsty, and had to use the bathroom a lot at night. My mom, who was diagnosed with diabetes five years before I was born, checked my sugar one morning and it was well over 400 mg/dl. After I was diagnosed, I was taught to use a meter and learned how to inject myself with insulin at the doctor’s office. I was also sent to a nutritionist to learn how to read food labels. Doctors always questioned whether I actually had Type 2 because of the age at which I was diagnosed.
Doctors told me Type 2 diabetes was a manageable disease and if I took care of myself, I would live a normal life. But, I always struggled to get control of my diabetes with just diet and exercise. Nothing about my diet was working. I would eat a typical Mexican meal with rice, beans, and tortillas and this definitely wasn’t diabetes-friendly. In regards to exercise, I was always active. In high school, I played soccer and now I lift weights at the gym and attend cycling classes regularly.
Diagnosed as a “Diabetic Hybrid”
I was confused and discouraged about my treatment plan because even though I was doing everything I was told, I couldn’t get my blood sugar under control. About five months ago, I visited a new endocrinologist who told me I am a “hybrid” person with diabetes and that I’ll have to take insulin for the rest of my life. Though I believe I most likely have latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), my doctor hasn’t diagnosed me with it.
Now, I’m on an insulin pump and I follow a ketogenic diet. I also wear a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) which is linked to my 670g insulin pump. I still prick my fingers to test my blood sugar and calibrate and when I feel the need to do so. By doing both of these things I have brought my A1C from an 11.5 to a 6.5 in three months.
This new diagnosis has changed my life and relationship with diabetes. I no longer feel like I have to decide which kind of person with diabetes I am. I consider myself a “diabetic 1.5” because I can definitely relate to people who have either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. It’s always been a struggle to live in both worlds and I’m sure it will continue to be challenging at times, it will still be but now I feel confident to say that I’m “hybrid”.
How I Get My Children Involved in my Diabetes Care
My family has always tried to help and be there as much as they can. My husband and kids always keep me in check when it comes to what I eat. I keep it simple with keto because it’s an easy way to manage my diet. I always make sure to make meals my kids will also enjoy because most of the time, they eat what I eat.
When it comes to learning about diabetes and living with a mom who has it, my children have always seen me prick my fingers and inject myself with insulin. When I received an insulin pump, they were very curious about it and I had to explain to them what it was. In any case, they were happy I didn’t have to prick my fingers often anymore. Also, an important thing for me as a parent with diabetes was to teach my children what to do if there’s a diabetes emergency and they may need to help save my life.
What Everyone Needs to Know About Living with Diabetes
In my opinion, there are things about living with people some don’t understand. I think that people think living with diabetes is easy because us diabetics don’t “look” sick — in fact, we can look like we’re in great health. In regards to young children being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes? You don’t have to be old to be diagnosed. I’m living proof that it happens.
I also think people aren’t always aware that mental illness is a struggle in people with diabetes. This disease can break you mentally and my advice to anyone my fellow diabetics is to never give up. Sure, diabetes sometimes does what it wants even if your doing everything right. Keep trying to take care of yourself in the best way possible, even when you think about giving up. Also, never be ashamed to test your blood sugar or take insulin in public. Diabetes is part of you. Learn to love and embrace this new part of your life because your survival depends on it.