My name is Manuel Crespo Torres. I am from Puerto Rico. I am 23 years old and I have had type 1 diabetes since I was 7 years old. Diabetes has been one of the most important things in my and my family’s life.
Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 through October 15 and we celebrate the rich histories and cultures of the Hispanic community. As a Latino, I am proud to join in the celebration. Latinos are nearly twice as likely as non-Latino Whites to develop diabetes, so we need to promote physical activity and healthy lifestyles. Diabetes is a disease that requires a lot of effort and above all, a total commitment and strong will to deal with all the challenges that we face.
In order to have my diabetes under control, I do the following:
- 30 minutes of walking or running on the treadmill, daily
- Checking my blood glucose level before and after I eat a meal or snack, daily
I can’t say that I stop myself from eating what others are eating. On the contrary, I can eat everything, but of course in an appropriate size, and I avoid fatty food. The only thing I don’t eat is candy and any other product that is not low-fat or that has a high level of sugar. Two of my favorite foods are pizza and rib eye steak. I eat them without any problem; however, I make the necessary adjustments and include physical exercise. Physical activity is a great tool to help improve the functioning of insulin in the body.
I’ve been using an insulin pump for about 11 years, and it has been one of the best tools to keep my diabetes under control. But, it is like everything – if you use it well, you’ll get great results; if you don’t use it correctly, you are only lying to yourself. One of the keys to diabetes is, “What I do today, I’ll have to do for the rest of my life,” because diabetes is a disease that can slowly deteriorate your system without you realizing it. You’re depriving yourself of welfare and health if you don’t do your best to control diabetes.
One of my favorite sports is riding all-terrain vehicles. I practice this sport and there is no reason to not do it. There isn’t any impediment for a person with diabetes to be able to do it and carry on with a normal life. Likewise, I like cycling and I do it too without any problem. The only thing I need to remember is that I have to be more careful, and always communicate to whoever is cycling with me about my illness and what they need to do in case of a hypoglycemic event.
As for my studies, I have an associate degree in optical sciences, and this year I will finish my degree in general biology. There is nothing that can stop me from achieving what I want to do in life; I only have to make an effort to reach the goal. The same thing happens with diabetes. You are the one who has the power to keep diabetes under control. Diabetes does what I tell it to do; for better or worse, the decision is mine.
We have the tools to keep diabetes under control. We have the technology on our side, and we have new discoveries and medically proven methods to help. We have many products made with artificial sweeteners that help us enjoy food and dessert with less carbohydrates. Being able to have dessert sometimes makes it easier to be like someone who does not have diabetes.
Now, glucose samples require less blood than before and needles are getting finer and finer. Finally, we have everything we need to start making a difference in the statistics. The most important thing is to follow your doctor’s recommendations (endocrinologist, primary care provider, dietician, etc.). It is important to get your A1C checked, and make a great effort to improve your health and get your diabetes under control. At the end of the day, you’ll be able to see if it was worthy or not.