Today, I’m speaking with Laurel Salloum who has had Type 1 diabetes now for 16 years. Despite having this diagnosis thrown upon her in her teenage years, she has taken life by the horns and become a successful woman, never letting it stand in her way.
First off, what type of diabetes do you have? We have readers with all types, so it’s important to talk about this first.
Type one Diabetes. Diagnosed at 15 years old and I am now 31.
How were you made aware that you had diabetes? Please share your diagnosis story with our readers.
Looking back, I actually had the symptoms for about a year before I was diagnosed. I was drinking a few gallons of iced tea or water a day! A few times I would throw up, and I was going to the bathroom constantly! I had lost a lot of weight but I was a teenaged girl so I didn’t mi d losing weight! When I turned 15 I went to my family doctor for a physical to be able to start work while I was in high school. I remember the doctor poking his head in the door to the room I was in at his office saying “you have a lot of sugar in your urine!”
They did blood work and a few hours later my parents got a phone call to bring me straight to the emergency room because my blood sugar was 775!
We’re all curious, even if we live the life, everyone is different, what is a typical day like for you?
A typical day for me is sitting at my dining room table checking my blood sugar between 7 or 8am, eating some breakfast, I then usually go to sleep shortly after because I work night shift. I’ll get up around 4pm and check my sugar, eat something again and try to do some chores around the house or hang out with my husband. If I’m off of work I will check my sugar around d 8-9 pm and have a snack then go to bed. If I work at 11pm I check my sugar around 10pm before I get to work and then overnight I tend to eat while at work so I try to check my sugar every 2 hours or so. Every 3 days I also have to make sure to change my pod since I’m on an insulin pump (omnipod).
Describe the one scariest moment since your diagnosis.
I was 17 yrs. old and still in high school. One night before bed I had taken my insulin but had taken too much and didn’t eat. I did wake up in the middle of the night at some point but my blood sugar had gone so low that I had fallen out of bed. I was unable to speak but I remember I was moaning so my parents would hear me. They eventually heard me and came to my side trying to give me juice and candy. My brother and father carried me out to the car and took me to the emergency room. That was very scary because I didn’t know what would happen if my parents and brother weren’t there! I could have died!
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?
It’s extremely difficult! Some days I’m so hungry I could eat the entire kitchen! But as long as I give myself boluses of insulin for what I’m eating or drinking, I’m great! Then there’s some days when I just eat regular meals. Small snacks. Or sometimes I don’t eat much or anything at all and my blood sugar is out of control and won’t come down! For me, I don’t think I’ve found a proper balance because it changes constantly. There’s not much consistency for me with type one diabetes I guess.
If you could give one tip to someone newly diagnosed what would it be?
Do your research! And experiment! Something’s might work well for some, but not others. If you sugar goes low for instance, eat a pack of fruit snacks and a little peanut butter after for the protein. That works for some people! If that doesn’t work, or maybe u don’t like eating that stuff, try something else! Keep experimenting! That could make it fun and not so boring too! But find what works for you!!
What is the most challenging aspect to you, in living with diabetes?
The most challenging aspect for me is the financial aspect! Insulin and supplies are extremely expensive! Especially if you don’t have insurance. And paying for insurance is also expensive! I only work so I can pay for my insurance and pay my copses for my medical supplies! It’s frustrating because I don’t have a choice to buy my own home or spend money on a brand new car because the majority of my income goes to Diabetes.
What was your reaction when you found out you had diabetes?
At first it didn’t really hit me. I was just barely 15 years old and didn’t quite understand it all. Once it hit me a few months later, I became very depressed and even had to be put on depression medication
What was hardest for you and your family — emotionally? Or financially?
The hardest part for my family I think was the emotional part. When I became very depressed it was hard on my parents seeing me like that. Now, I live with my husband and financially it’s hard but my husband is amazing and helps with everything. Now that I’m 31, we are trying for a baby and having uncontrolled diabetes for 16 years, we are very afraid of having a difficult pregnancy or even losing a baby.
How often do you have to test your glucose levels?
At least 4 times a day. Most of the time I check it 6 or 7 times a day.
What insulins have you used or do you currently use?
In the past I’ve used, Lantus, novolog, Humalog. Currently I get my insulin from Walmart (because I can get it with no script and it’s cheaper than even with insurance) and that insulin I’m on now is Novulin R in my insulin pump.
What would you like people who have diabetes to know?
Don’t give up. You’ll have good days and bad days. But you will find something that works for you and you will love your life like normal. We can’t take a break from diabetes so try to enjoy it! It’s a part of us! I like to buy new glucose machines to check my sugar. The new technology excites me and gets me to check my sugar more often! Have fun with it and find what works for u!
Who do you get support from? Who treats you?
My husband is my main support! He is my number one and he knows everything there is to know about diabetes so he is right there to help me if I’m sick or low or if my sugar is high.
Also, I’m treated by my endocrinologist Dr. Vengrove!
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?
One positive thing it brought to my life is that from being around doctors so often and in and out of the hospital often, I wanted to be like the nurses that took great care of me so I went into nursing. I worked in a nursing home as a certified nurse assistant helping others who were in car accidents or had brain injuries. But I really want to work for the American diabetes association or JDRF.