Diabetes Forecast

Readers' Diabetes Advice for Their Younger Selves

By Allison Tsai , ,

Chances are, the longer you’ve lived with diabetes, the more nuggets of knowledge you’ve gained. That’s why we asked for the pearls of diabetes wisdom you’d share with your younger self. Here’s what you had to say about living with diabetes:

Delia Jervier {Type 2}
Age diagnosed: 37
Current age: 45
City: Orlando, Florida

“Diet and exercise really do matter with type 2 control. I found that trying to be too strict didn’t help. But being educated about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods, reading labels, and making smart choices made a tremendous difference. I now know that a healthy balance between eating properly and exercising helps me stay in good control.” 

Marissa Bosworth {Type 1}
Age diagnosed: 17 when diagnosed with type 2; 31 when correctly diagnosed with type 1
Current age: 39
City: Baldwin Park, California

“Don’t get discouraged with the needle sticks from insulin shots and glucose testing. It’s the best route to provide you with the life you deserve—a healthy one! I also have my husband as my support. He helps me to stay positive when I get frustrated from the pain.”

Melodis Ford {Type 2}
Age diagnosed: 46
Current age: 55
City: Windmere, Florida

“You can continue to do all of the things you love to do, like traveling, cycling, golfing, and, yes, even eating. Don’t be discouraged when, despite your best efforts to fight the disease through better exercise and diet habits, you aren’t able to eradicate it. The important thing is to keep your diabetes in check by continuing to be active, eating sensibly, and enjoying life. I can’t emphasize enough that the more information and understanding you have about diabetes, the less anxiety you will have about this disease.”

Teresa Derby {Type 1}
Age diagnosed: 10
Current age: 27
City: Chicago

“When you begin pump therapy, there will be a short time when you will have to relearn how to have diabetes. Your highs will be different, and treating your lows will be different. You will find mini fanny packs that will match your bikini bottoms. You will find ways to thread your pump tubing through cocktail dresses. And you will seamlessly wear your pump with your wedding dress. Living with diabetes and the devices will become the new normal, and your daily routine will continue as such.”

Adam Burrack, PhD {Type 1}
Age diagnosed: 2
Current age: 33
City: Minneapolis

“I resisted going on an insulin pump till I was 20 and then resisted going on a continuous glucose monitor till I was 33. I would tell my high school self to not worry about data overload with the devices—more information leads to better-informed decisions. I would also tell my younger self to pursue his passions in science. I’ve pursued a master’s degree and a PhD and work in basic research studying how the immune system kills beta cells leading to type 1 diabetes.”

Brittany Marie {Type 1}
Age diagnosed: 11
Current age: 19
City: Coldwater, Michigan

“When I was younger, I felt extremely guilty that my parents had to spend so much money every month just to keep me alive. I started not taking insulin or checking my blood sugar. In my mind, if I didn’t use it, they wouldn’t have to pay for it. Expectedly, this led to a huge decrease in my health, and my A1C went up to 12 percent. Through the years, I’ve come to understand that my family would rather have me and my health than the money.”

Bill Szemcsak {Type 2}
Age diagnosed: 61
Current age: 64
City: Orlando, Florida

“Share and communicate with your family and friends. Talk about your disease: the things you are feeling and the fears you have, or their concerns. Share your game plan: how you are going to control your diabetes and what they can do to help. Explain that you can still do the things you like to do, but there are things that may be different than before, such as the type and amount of food you eat, when you have to eat and take meds, and signs and symptoms of any problems you may have.”

Phyllisa Deroze, PhD {Type 2}
Age diagnosed: 30
Current age: 37
City: Pompano Beach, Florida

“When I was diagnosed with diabetes, there were a lot of things that I thought would no longer be possible. My desire to be a mom and my love for traveling were two things that I assumed would come to an end. But now I have a 1-year-old daughter, and I travel just as much. I would tell my younger self that the things that I love and the dreams that I have are possible.”

Robin Fein Wright {Type 2}
Age diagnosed: 50
Current age: 63
City: Princeton, New Jersey

“Diabetes is a chronic illness that requires constant management. Because of the demands of the illness, you need to be patient with yourself until you learn what works best for your body. It helps to have emotional and behavioral support because lifestyle change is necessary. Also, there is a stigma related to diabetes, so you can feel ashamed and isolated. It helps to talk openly with those close to you about your needs regarding healthy nutrition. Knowing all of this now, I would say to my younger self: Be patient as you learn to cope with diabetes. It is an ongoing learning process. Get peer support, and include your family by educating them on how to help you.”

Hannah Jordan {Type 1}
Age diagnosed: 9
Current age: 12
City: North Port, Florida

“It took me a long time before my mom and dad would let me sleep over at a friend’s house because I wasn’t making good choices. So in order to earn their trust, I really had to decide to get better at this whole thing. … I had to realize that nobody is going to care for me unless I learn how to do this on my own, especially away from my parents.”

Scott Johnson {Type 1}
Age diagnosed: 5
Current age: 41
City: Minneapolis

“I would tell my younger self that living well with diabetes is all about progress, not perfection. I would try to convey the value of education and understanding more of the mechanics around diabetes. I would also want to focus much more on the psychological aspects of living with diabetes. I would ask myself to be more gentle and forgiving, yet always striving to improve.”



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