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 are 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.
The thought of personally having diabetes never crossed my mind. I heard about it, learned about it in school and even work with people who have diabetes in my profession (I am a Licensed Practical Nurse who works in a hospital’s Family Birthing Center and I do hospice care as well). But I had no concern that I was going to get it. I was young, active and healthy. I knew my family had a history of type 2 diabetes, but they had been diagnosed in middle age.
A little over two years ago, I started to have recurrent urinary tract infections. After about the fourth one in less than two months, my doctor decided to run an A1C test. I had to wait two days to receive my results, which was nerve-wracking and felt like a really long time. When my phone rang and I received the news that I had type 2 diabetes, I thought the test results had to be wrong. I did not believe my blood glucose was too high (my A1C was 7.5 percent).
I went to an endocrinologist for a second opinion. It was confirmed that I had type 2. My life changed from this day forward. I was 21 years old at the time and couldn’t believe I had to start poking my fingers, counting carbohydrates and taking medication every day.
I changed my eating habits, choosing better portion sizes and everything in moderation. I started to work out three to four times weekly for an hour each session. I saw a diabetes educator and a nutritionist to help me and support me. I have lost 30 pounds in the last year!
I had difficulties with my medication in the first year and a half. No matter what I tried, my blood glucose numbers were uncontrolled, with peaks of high and low. About six months ago, my diabetes educator changed my medication to a new drug called Victoza. It’s an injection that I give myself once daily. After several months of taking this medication, I finally have an A1C under 7 percent and my blood glucose is controlled. I have noticed a big difference in the way I feel compared to when I was first diagnosed.
Living with type 2 diabetes has been a roller coaster. I suggest to anyone who has diabetes to join a diabetes support group or talk to friends who have diabetes. It’s nice to know you are not the only one struggling—and you also have someone to talk to when things are going well! Join a gym with a friend and make it a weekly routine to work out there or take a walk outside.
Teaching other people about diabetes can help you learn more about the disease and what you can do for yourself. As I’m already in the medical field, my dream job is to become a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) so I’m working toward that. I want to help people prevent type 2 diabetes and control their diabetes.
The American Diabetes Association has a Step Out walk in my area and I participated in my first one last year. I talked to vendors about diabetes supplies and I met new people of all ages. This was a wonderful experience.
Diabetes is a disease I have learned to live with everyday. With changes to my life, I will not let diabetes control my life. I will be in control.