Today, we’re going to discuss what it is like to live with Diabetes from Emily Hunt’s stand point and point of view. Emily has had Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease, since she was little and is living her life to the fullest. Thank you for agreeing to participate in this interview. I believe it will be wonderfully beneficial to our readers to learn more about living with a chronic illness.
First off, what type of diabetes do you have? We have readers with all types, so it’s important to talk about this first.
Hi there! I am a type 1 diabetic with the insulin pump. I have been since July 8, 2004. I was aware that I was diabetic when I was little.
How were you made aware that you had diabetes? Please share your diagnosis story with our readers.
My mom had a meter at home because the doctor was curious about if she was a T2. So, she noticed that I had been acting differing. She checked my glucose and all the meter would say was HI. Most at home meters read up to 600. So, the next day, she took me to the doctor and told him about my symptoms I was having. I had always been a “chubbier” kid growing up. So, losing 20lbs in one month is quite drastic. Yet, I was eating probably twice the amount of food I would normally eat. I was drinking water nonstop. I could never quench my thirst. So with that, that means you have to go to the bathroom, A LOT. And I was also sleeping in really late. I used to be the kid that woke up around 7-8 on the weekends. I would be sleeping in till noon or so. After the doctor heard about that and just put two and two together with the meter, he knew I was diabetic, but lab work had to confirm. That same day I was shipped off to Rochester, MN to the hospital there for 6 days. They said I was about a month away from being in a coma.
We’re all curious, even if we live the life, everyone is different, what is a typical day like for you?
Oh goodness, a typical day. That’s hard! There is no “typical” day for a diabetic really. Usually for me, I wake up, check my blood sugar, and get ready for my morning. Eat breakfast. Check my sugar an hour or so later at work/school or wherever I am at the moment. Check my sugar again before lunch, eat, an hour or so later check it again. If I’d like a snack later in the afternoon, I check my sugar again, eat, and then hour or so later check it again. Then for supper around 6:00, I check my sugar, eat, check it again a little while later. Lately I have been working out around 7:30 due to my Internship. So, before I work out, I check my sugar to make sure it’s okay. Then I check it when I’m done working out too. Yes, there are days where I check my sugar more than others. This reasoning is due to hormones, a cold I may have, how a food is making me feel after I eat it, how I feel during my workout. But that is the “average” day for me I guess.
Describe the one scariest moment since your diagnosis.
I think one of the scariest moments for me so far was just ONE of the times that I woke up in the ER. I had had a seizure in our local Hy-Vee grocery store due to my sugar being low. There was a time where I wasn’t feeling my lows. I have had about 4 seizures I think.
Living with a chronic illness can be overwhelming, how do you cope with the constant battle of trying to maintain a proper balance with your blood sugars?
For me, I don’t really have a coping method. I just know if I don’t take care of myself, I will die. That in itself is scary enough to make someone want to take care of themselves. It’s made me a really strong person and I think of life in a different way. Yes, there are days that I’m “mad at the world” and frustrated because of it, but it’s made me grow up a lot faster and has taught me many life lessons on how to appreciate the little things.
If you could give one tip to someone newly diagnosed what would it be?
I think a tip I would like to give someone was, this is not the end of the world. There is so much worse out there that could happen to us. We can still live our life. Yes, it is challenging, but we can manage. You only let it defeat you if you give into the disease. Be stronger than the disease. You’re unstoppable.
What is the most challenging aspect to you, in living with diabetes?
I think the most challenging part of me with living with diabetes, is the stigma that comes along with it. Many people think that I ate poorly as a child or ate too much sugar. That’s not the case. Many people who have T2 is because of a poor diet/lifestyle, but genetics do come into play for T2 also. People don’t understand the daily struggle I go through with this and how it affects almost everything I do. Even in a sexual relationship with my boyfriend, I have to stop, unhook my pump and set it up on the night stand. Many people don’t realize how much it affects a person and their partner too. For me, I didn’t harm my body to become diabetic, my body turned against me.
What was your reaction when you found out you had diabetes?
Since I was only 11, I was terrified. I had to take 4 shots a day and eat a super strict diet. No 11-year-old wants to do that. I was mad, scared, and angry. It’s a hard thing to understand at that age. For me, I do try to hide. Not because I am ashamed, but I just get tired of explaining what I’m doing to a lot of people who I am not comfortable with. Some people get too nosey and don’t realize that someone who deals with something on a daily basis can get a little burnt out from talking about it.
What was hardest for you and your family — emotionally? Or financially?
Emotionally, my mom was confused and wanted to blame herself. No one was to blame. My parents fight about my medical bills and mom argues about paying and such. I am in college still and on my dad’s health insurance. Until I’m done with school, they said they’d pay for them. Yet, dad doesn’t care because he is financially stable, but mom makes me feel bad for causing so much financial stress on her. That it’s almost my fault.
How often do you have to test your glucose levels?
I test my sugar about 10-12 times a day.
What insulins have you used or do you currently use?
I currently use novolog. But I’ve used humolog and novolog when I was on shots.
What would you like people who have diabetes to know?
I just want people who have diabetes to know that “screw diabetes” should be a life motto, pardon my French. It can’t control you unless you let it. You control it. It doesn’t stop me from anything I do unless I give it that power.
Who do you get support from? Who treats you?
I get A LOT of support from my boyfriend and sometimes my mom. Those are the two that check in, make sure I’m OK, ask what I need when I do need something, and much more. He has been a huge impact in my life on it. He has literally, saved my life a few times because my sugar was so low I was unresponsive and vomited everywhere. He’s the one whose take me to the ER 2-3x. He’s the one that’s been there.
Let’s conclude on a positive note. I know it can be difficult to find the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you thought really hard, what is one positive thing that diabetes has brought to your life?
A huge positive for me with diabetes, it’s taught me a lot about nutrition and how to life a healthy life. And I am a big healthy eater and gym rat!