Talking Type 1: Jada Quinn Livingston

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.


Jada (with her daughter) after running a quarter-marathon!

Jada (with her daughter) after running a quarter-marathon!

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.

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7 Responses to Talking Type 1: Jada Quinn Livingston

  1. Cheryl says:

    I can really relate to your story Jada. I was diagnosed just a few days before I was to have the glucose tolerance test @ 28 weeks. I was showing a few signs like thirst and blurred vision so I called my Dr. They had me come in on a Fri for the test and for whatever reason they must not have finished running the test over the weekend. After drinking the glucose, they sent me home where I deteriorated over the weekend. I got so sick that I could barely walk, from the couch where I was camped out, to the bathroom. I was drinking about 30 glasses of water each day.
    I honestly thought that I had the flu. That’s how it felt. I had absolutely no knowledge about diabetes, its symptoms, or what it could be doing to me OR my baby. By Mon morning I was throwing up. I called my Dr and they said, “your blood sugar was 646. You need to go to the ER”. I had lost 12 lbs from Fri to Mon. I was admitted for 6 days and the remainder of my pregnancy was watched VERY closely.
    I honeymooned for about 13 months after her birth and have been on insulin now for 25 yrs. I’m considered Adult Onset Juvenile Diabetes. I know I sound very ignorant about it, but I was. I hadn’t been warned about anything that I should have known. We couldn’t understand how they could have sent me home after the test if I was that ill.This was 1987. So much more is in the open about diabetes now. I’m just grateful that I had a healthy baby.

    • Jada Livingston says:

      Wow Cheryl, what a scary experience for you! I’m glad you and your daughter made it through okay. I can totally relate to that horrible flu feeling. It was the same for me after I stopped nursing. About a month later I started to feel awful. First I thought it was the flu. After a week or so, I guessed it had to be something more serious. I think I was still in denial that it could possibly be diabetes. Thanks for sharing your story!

  2. julie johnston says:

    i feel that you are repeating my story…..8% body fat, in shape and bam!…..

  3. Barbara Morse-Quinn says:

    Did she mention also holding down a 4 day a week position in a law firm as well? Here’s to a simply amazing role model. Well done!

  4. Barry Quinn says:

    You’re my hero!

    Love, Dad

  5. KAREN NEWE says:

    Thank you for a type 1 story that is positive and inspirational. When I was first diagnosed this year at age 51 I went to the blogs and had to stop reading them because too many were so much about the struggles. Yours is so helpful. Yes, I was scared and confused but I want to live a regular life and that means not allowing this to define me. I do not mind calling myself diabetic but I am many other things too. I also run (a bit) and always ate healthy. I am so fortunate to have a very supportive spouse and this has brought us closer.

  6. Julie says:

    Sounds a lot like my case also. From GDM to Type 1.5/LADA. Reading these posts about being diagnosed as a Type 1 as an adult, I don’t read much about being diagnosed as a Type 1.5 or LADA-Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults. I’m still in the honeymoon phase, diagnosed in February 2013 at the age of 43, I have a A1C of 6.7.

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