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.
I am 24 and I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes on Jan. 9, 2013, when I was still 23. At diagnosis I had a fasting blood glucose of 352 mg/dl and an A1C of 11.3 percent—I was pretty sick.
I was immediately put on insulin, but luckily I have been able to get off of it. Since then I have been off and on different medicines, trying to find a good fit. My last A1C was done on April 25 and I am now down to 6.4 with a fasting blood glucose of 137!
Though I am proud of how far I have come, I am mad that I have this disease. I am upset with the stigma that is also associated with it. When people find out I have type 2 diabetes, they believe I did it to myself. They do not know I have two parents, grandmothers, a great-grandmother, and a great-great-grandfather—all with type 2. My endocrinologist would be the first to tell you that my genes played a major factor in me getting diabetes. It was never “if”; it was always “when.”
Being diagnosed at such a young age is extremely difficult to deal with. Not only do I go to school full time, but I also work full time as a caregiver to a little boy with special needs. I struggle with knowing that I have a lifelong chronic illness. I know that every decision in my life has to be made with this disease in mind. It’s not easy to say I want to have kids anymore when I know the risks associated with being pregnant and the genetics I could potentially pass on. Nothing about this disease is easy and life with it is a struggle.
However, there are positives to having diabetes. I am actually much healthier of a person now. In fact, I am running my first 8K later this month! I have not only brought my blood glucose down but my cholesterol as well.
The American Diabetes Association’s online community has been a great place for me to vent, seek solace and celebrate with other type 2’s (though I wish I knew more my own age). And the Association’s main website has been phenomenal in providing trusted information.
I think it’s also important to have a solid support system in “real life” and a doctor you really like, because that doctor becomes a big part of your life when you have diabetes. I have been blessed with an endocrinologist, Dr. Torres, who is always so positive and always finds something to praise me on. She is an outstanding doctor who supports me as a person and not just her patient.
Yes, having diabetes will forever change my life, but it won’t change who I am. It’s helping me discover more of myself and I like who I am. I am Elizabeth: a nanny, a daughter, a friend, a sister, a granddaughter, a student . . . and a person living with type 2 diabetes.