Think type 1 diabetes is just for kids? Think again.
Because it was thought to only strike children and teens, type 1 was known as juvenile diabetes for a long time. The truth is a growing number of adults are being diagnosed with it in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond.
All week long, we will present stories from adults who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, describing the emotions and frustrations that came with their experiences. Each person defines success in different ways, but they all celebrate the triumphs that have helped them reach their goal of living well with diabetes.
Name: Jada Quinn Livingston
Age: 38 (diagnosed at age 36)
Location: Portland, Ore.
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes two years ago, at age 36. I grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, raised on a healthy diet and lots of exercise. After graduating high school, I went to Brown University, where I played on the Division I women’s soccer team. As an adult I am thin, athletic and come close to being a health nut—though I do love homemade cookies. I enjoy running, especially on trails.
After graduating from the University of Washington School of Law, I moved to Portland, where I still live with my husband. I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during my first pregnancy. I failed the first glucose tolerance test so badly, I didn’t have to take the three-hour follow-up. (My blood glucose was 293 mg/dl.)
Not having any of the risk factors for gestational diabetes, I was upset and disappointed by my diagnosis. And every medical professional I saw during my pregnancy expressed surprise. Luckily, I was able to control my blood glucose through a restricted diet and exercise regime. Everyone told me that the diabetes would go away after my daughter was born.
It didn’t. For a year, my A1C tests were a consistent 6.5 percent (the threshold for a diabetes diagnosis). Then I stopped nursing and it jumped to a 7.7. At this point, my general physician tested my c-peptides and sent me to an endocrinologist. This is when I was told I actually had type 1 diabetes.
Since my diagnosis, I’ve had another successful pregnancy with the help of an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor. In addition to being the mom of a toddler and preschooler, I continue to run and play soccer. This year, I ran for the first time on a Hood to Coast relay team, a 195-mile event spanning two days.
I have been angry at my diabetes. I have been scared of it, too. I know I will always have days here and there when I feel completely overwhelmed by it. But most importantly, I have learned to accept it. And I will not let it slow me down.