What is Type 1 Diabetes, you ask? Well, let me tell ya! It’s an autoimmune disease where your pancreas doesn’t give your body the necessary hormone (insulin) it needs to break down glucose into energy.
It’s complicated. It’s challenging. And it’s something I never thought I’d have to think about - but here we are, and boy, has it been a rollercoaster.
I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 12 when I was entering middle school, and I vividly remember the look on my mom’s face when the doctor broke the news to us. It was in that moment that I knew my life would never be the same.
I couldn’t understand why this was happening to me. But what I did understand was that I didn’t want anyone to know. This mentality was only the beginning of what was soon to be the hardest journey of my life. I not only hid it from my friends, but I also hid it from myself.
Despite the consequences that came with that, I continued to neglect my health because it just seemed easier that way. I started lying to my parents, doctors and close friends all with the hope that one day it would just disappear.
Guess what? I was wrong.
As this went on, I was in and out of the hospital with DKA (Diabetic Ketoacidosis), developed macular degeneration in my left eye, and suffered one of the most painful experiences of my life: diabetic neuropathy. It pains me to think that I did this to myself; but it’s also very humbling to see where I was, where I’ve been, and where I am today.
Although I was quite the rebellious child, I am very grateful for the support system I had. After I was diagnosed, my father took it upon himself to delve into what the doctor suggested to be a “healthy lifestyle”... and boy did he go full force. Even though I was late to the party, we committed to eating better as a family - cooking at home more and developing a new meaning for what it truly meant to take care of ourselves.
From the man who taught me how to make peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches, this was a huge step for us.
Over the years, my passion for living a healthy lifestyle grew stronger and stronger. I found a new love for strength training, and started working out with a personal trainer who also happened to be a Type 1 - something I’ve always wanted to do. For the first time ever I felt like I had someone to talk to who could actually understand and relate to the things I was saying, which was such a breath of fresh air. He wore an Omnipod and Dexcom; two pieces of technology I was admittedly scared of for the sake of having such a clear label. But he made it look so... cool!
I can now proudly say I am a user of both Omnipod and Dexcom.
Today, I can honestly say I’m grateful for diabetes. It has taught me patience, self-worth, and has brought me some of the greatest opportunities I never thought I'd see.
In the midst of the pandemic, I came across Senita Athletics. They were advertising their Senita Scholars collection where they give $5k scholarships to diabetic scholars either currently in, or entering college. I lit up immediately thinking, “What! An athleticwear company that supports diabetes?”... unheard of. A couple weeks later they posted an ad on Instagram saying they were hiring. I was unemployed at the time so I immediately jumped on this opportunity.
I have been working for Senita Athletics for a year now. Starting in the warehouse and making my way to the marketing team has been such a gratifying experience. I remember in my first review they asked me, “Where do you see yourself in this company?” I didn’t have much of an answer other than I wanted to help empower others like myself living with Type 1 Diabetes in whatever way, shape, or form.
Which brings me to where I am today. I've been given the privilege to lead our T1D campaign, and be an advocate for our diabetic community.
Everyone’s journey with Type 1 Diabetes is uniquely different. It can be scary, lonely, and extremely frustrating at times. But it can also be a blessing in disguise.
To all my fellow diabuddies out there:
I see you.
I hear you.
And I will forever stand by you.