The number of teens and young adults living with type 2 diabetes has increased in recent years. Managing diabetes at this age can come with different challenges than an adult may face. This week on the blog, we’ll be featuring stories of people who have been there—and how they’re determined to live long, healthy lives while managing their diabetes.
Does type 2 diabetes affect a young person in your life? Check out the American Diabetes Association’s new “Be Healthy Today; Be Healthy for Life,” a resource developed especially for youth living with type 2 and their families.
My name is Jacquelynn (Jacki) and I am 25 years old. I have type 2 diabetes.
Ever since I was about 12 years old I struggled with my weight. Because of a family history of diabetes, I knew I needed to get a handle on my weight and eating habits before it became an issue. In January 2012 I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes while pregnant with my first son. I was told that having it during pregnancy greatly increases your chances of developing type 2 later in life, and puts your baby at risk for it too, so I followed the strictest diet I could and did everything my doctors asked.
I delivered a healthy baby boy in March 2012. After delivery my blood glucose levels tested fine for weeks, so I slipped back into my old habits quickly. Being a new mom was exhausting and I didn’t really try as hard as I should have. In August I started having tingly feelings in my palms and the soles of my feet. My doctor tested my A1C; it was 7.9 percent and I was told that, yes, I have type 2 diabetes.
At first I was angry and in denial because I felt perfectly fine! But then I became proactive about keeping my numbers in check. Within months I had my A1C down to 6 percent. Shortly after that, I found out I was pregnant again! It is quite stressful sometimes having to follow a diet and take pills every day while pregnant, but by doing what the doctors tell me I have been able to keep my numbers within an acceptable range and my A1C between 5.6 and 6 percent.
For both of my children, I am trying very hard to take care of myself and do what I can every day to make sure that I maintain my new healthy lifestyle, even after pregnancy. I have family members who have had diabetes for many years and they still struggle with it. I have decided that eating healthfully and taking walks with my son a few times a week are not too much to ask to make my life better.
My goal after the birth of my second son in September is to drop 40 pounds, because my doctors tell me that my weight (200 pounds right now) contributed to my type 2 diabetes. My message to people my own age and even younger would be to watch what you eat. Once I was diagnosed and began counting carbs I realized that I was taking in two to three times more than the recommended carbohydrate serving per day—and much of that was bad (refined, processed) carbs. Now instead of having a brownie and ice cream I will have an apple and peanut butter. I have discovered balancing protein and good carbs is what works best for me and keeps my numbers in line.
I have diabetes, but it does not control me! Each day is a new chance to do better than yesterday—because I know I can.