Hi, my name is Ava Pearlman. I am 12 years old and I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 6. Recently I went on a school trip to Greenkill. This is a 3 day and 2 night field trip with my school. It is the first time I have been away from home overnight other than my grandparents house or at diabetes camp.
I am a deep sleeper which means I don’t hear my sensor alarms when they go off at night. That can be very dangerous, because if you go to low you can have a seizure or even die. If you go too high for too long you can develop dangerous ketone or ketoacidosis and die. It was scary for me because I did not have my parents to help me or hear the alarms at night. Luckily I was wearing my Dexcom and my parents were watching my blood glucose numbers from home. The first night my numbers were extremely high. My mom was up all night watching to make sure I came down. The second night I was low all night. My parents were up again all night calling the assistant principal asking her to give me juice and pretzels. Finally at 3:00 in the morning we all got to go to sleep because my numbers started coming up. My parents never complain but I know it is hard on them too. For most parents they don’t get a lot of sleep when they have little babies. For parents with kids with Type 1 Diabetes, they never get to sleep through the night.
Diabetes is a hard disease, and it takes a lot of effort and strength. That’s why it is so hard for me to watch my little brother Jacob start developing this horrible disease. A little more than a year ago Jacob did a program called Trial Net. Trial Net looks for the antibodies that make you a diabetic. Unfortunately, my brother Jacob has three of the antibodies you need to develop diabetes. Over this past year my brother’s diabetes has been progressing. Like I said before, diabetes is a hard disease. You have to prick yourself with needle 10-15 times a day. If you are on injections you give yourself a shot of lantus every morning, and every time you eat or need to give a correction you must give yourself another shot. Even if you are on a pump you must change it every 2-3 days. This is the least of your problems if you are a diabetic. The hard part is always thinking about your numbers and feeling frustrated when you have done everything right but my numbers are still too high or too low. This is why it is so devastating to watch my brother develop this disease and there is nothing we can do about it. We know it is coming but we can’t stop it. I want Jacob to be able to go to Greenkill when he is in 7th grade without having to be afraid. Thank you for reading this and helping me and other diabetics with this disease.
Hi my name is Julia Hipperling. I am 8 years old and was diagnosed with diabetes at 7 months old. Sometimes I like diabetes when I have a low and can have candy or good snack and because I get to go to diabetes camp. Sometime my sugar is to high and I can’t eat what I want or I get tired or my belly hurts. I have a pump and a dexcom. The pump gives me insulin when I eat and all day. The dexcom tells what my sugar is without me having to check it all the time.
My name is Vincent Maltese and I am currently a senior in high school. I have been an ambassador and mentor for JDRF and Northwell Health for the past three and a half years. Through these organizations, I educate and hopefully inspire individuals living with Type I. JDRF puts me in touch with newly-diagnosed individuals who wish to connect with an ambassador. As a mentor, I share my story, providing tips and tricks for managing diabetes and exchanging my contact information so that we can continue a dialogue. To me, the most valuable aspect of mentoring is teaching the importance of managing the disease. Many children have trouble accepting the fact that they have to check their blood sugars six times a day, inject insulin for every meal, and count carbohydrates, responsibilities that most don’t have. It is my job to stress the importance of accepting the responsibilities while instilling confidence in people’s abilities to cope. These meetings, along with JDRF teen nights, provide a great opportunity to educate and motivate one another. But before I even assumed the role as an ambassador and mentor, I was just a young teenage kid that was beginning my freshman year of high school. I was placed in an environment where your production in school can determine the fate of your college aspirations. In this extremely pressuring atmosphere, I began to deal with significant amounts of stress from the expectations that I needed to meet such as aiming for a 4.0 GPA and maintaining it. One night, I remember being stuck on this one proof for geometry, not understanding what was the type of triangle I was trying to identify. I was so thirsty, downing a 2 liter bottle of sprite in just an hour. Instead of focusing on the proof, I brought my attention to questioning as to why I was so thirsty. Did I eat any spicy foods? Was I dehydrated? Did I exercise a lot? But then, why was I peeing so much? These questions lingered in my mind but I chose to ignore them. I brought my attention back to the proof and went to bed later that night. The next morning, Super Sunday, I woke up feeling completely lethargic. Usually excited and upbeat for my favorite day of the year, I knew something just wasn’t right. I told my mother how I have been feeling and she decided that it was necessary to go to the local doctor’s office for a quick check up. I told the doctor my symptoms and he brought out this little monitor and a piece of plastic. He said that he was going to check my blood sugar. Still confused as to why he was doing so, I complied and waited for the number on the screen. The first time the monitor read three little hash marks across the screen. I was like “Ha beat that monitor! My blood sugar is just too good that it can’t even get a reading? Or yet better, do I have super powers? Yeah I saw this in a movie once, kryptonite gets in my blood and bam, I can fly and save the world. What’d be my super hero name? The Maltese Falcon?” The doctor responded, “Well this is odd, let’s try this again.” “Would the Maltese Falcon be able to be invisible? What about super strength? I could definitely impress some girls with that.” The next reading popped up, 693. And before I knew it, I was hooked up to an ivy sitting in a hospital bed with my parents and step parents by my side, brain storming as what could a blood sugar of such a high number could mean. After running some blood tests, including the A1C test which measures blood glucose levels over the past three months, the doctors diagnosed me with type one diabetes. Well, what a great super bowl Sunday present, missing the game and hearing news that I’d be living with a chronic illness. The next morning, I met with a team of educators and doctors who went through training me on my new lifestyle. Introducing me to the basics of injections, learning how to count carbohydrates in food, determine specific calculations, and check my blood sugar. The day before, I was sitting in my bed, planning with my friends whose house we’d watch the game at, and who was bringing what foods. And during that day, I was given an insulin pen and was told to pinch my skin and put a needle inside me for every meal, every day. So let me ask you, do you know how many carbohydrates are in an Oreo? Some of you may know and most of you probably don’t. But if you didn’t you could just look it up on your phone and the answer will pop right up. You can go to the store, read a simple nutrition label, do some 2nd grade math and come up with the correct answer. But what about this; a chicken parmagina dinner with roasted potatoes and a side of pasta? Could you possibly place any numerical value on that? I’m not going to tell you that yeah the breading on the chicken is 20 carbs because there is about 1 cup worth of seasoning and that’s about a cup and a half of pasta so roughly 63 carbs and then there is about a 13 roasted potatoes so right about 42 yup so 20, 63, 42 that’s about 125 carbs easy, done. It’d be almost impossible to have counted the exact number of carbohydrates in that meal without proper resources. But in the beginning of my diagnosis, I had no choice but to fully utilize my resources in order to start the foundation of my new lifestyle. I ended up bringing a waited scale out to dinner, asking for separate plates and measuring everything that I have consumed. Ordering pasta I’d ask for a separate bowl, measure the bowl to take the weight off so it’s not including in the calculation, and try to keep a picture memory as a reference for the next time I eat that same amount of pasta. If I had a bigger plate of pasta next time, I’d use the reference and add more carbs, smaller plate vice versa. But eating wasn’t the only place where I had to make adjustments to my life; it was also on the baseball field. Before games and practice, I made sure my sugar was at a level higher than normal before I played, knowing that the exercise would continuously lower it. I used the same strategy for working out as well. Diabetes isn’t just a formula that you work with, there are so many factors that can increase and decrease blood sugar that you always have to be worrying about. Did I give myself too much insulin for this meal or did I give myself too little? Do I have glucose tablets or extra insulin on me just in case? Diabetes is a worry every single minute of the day. While taking my AP Calculus test, my pencil in my wrist began to jiggle and my fingers started to shake punching numbers into my calculator. I had to excuse myself from class and run down to the nurse’s office to handle my low blood sugar and make sure I was okay before resuming the test. AP Calculus test can be stressful as it is, I don’t understand differential equations to begin with. So simple math tells me that AP Calculus plus normal blood sugar equals struggles, then AP calculus plus low blood sugar equals a single digit test score. If there was an AP Calculus test on counting carbohydrates, however, I’d sure ace that. Because the truth is, diabetes is just about management and determination. With proper resources, dedication and support, we can all live healthy lifestyles. We can still do whatever we want; diabetes hasn’t stopped me from going out with my friends, enjoying a tub of ice cream, or from playing baseball. It just made me mature faster than everyone else. To have a constantly responsibility taught me how to look after myself and how important it was to make the right decisions. I can tell you what this year super bowl score was. The Patriots came back to beat the Falcons in overtime 34-28, with Tom Brady capturing his fifth super bowl ring. I could tell you what last year’s score was too, 24-10, as the Broncos unstoppable defense led by Von Miller totally brutalized Cam Newton and the almost undefeated patriots. I may have not been able to enjoy 2014’s super bowl, but what I do know is that there are many more of which diabetes won’t stop me from enjoying.
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