“We have diabetes, it gets to come along with us, it doesn’t get to stop us.” – Chris Olsen
My name is Angela Allo and I have had Type I diabetes for 28 years; I was diagnosed when I was 11. I still remember the night that I was diagnosed and the moments leading up to that scary time. In the weeks prior, I just remember drinking liquids constantly and using the restroom but we lived in South Louisiana so my parents just thought that because it was hot, I was thirsty.
No one in my family had diabetes so that wasn’t even being thought of. One day, the lady who babysat me told my mom that I looked like I had lost a lot of weight and when I weighed myself, I had lost 20 lbs. in 1 ½ weeks. My parents immediately took me to the ER and my blood sugar was 800!
The doctors said if I would’ve waited one more day to be seen, I would’ve been in a coma. I was admitted to the pediatric ICU. One cool thing that I like to share is that my endocrinologist, at the time, taught me how to give myself insulin shots by letting me give her a shot of saline. I had struggled with being able to give myself injections until she let me give her one.
So, that was the beginning of my journey.
For the first couple of years after my diagnosis, other than the 3 shots a day, it was kind of “cool” to have diabetes. I got to eat snacks in class (no one else got to) and all the teachers paid extra special attention to me. I got to go to a camp for kids with diabetes in the summer and everything was good but when I got to high school, things changed.
I was now feeling like I wasn’t normal. Every time I ate, I had to get up and go to the restroom to check my bloodsugar and give myself an insulin shot. I didn’t get to eat all the foods that everyone else was eating and every party or event I went to, they never had diet drinks or sugar-free foods so I felt left out. High school was a tough time for me and I started questioning “why me”? Why did I have to be the one with a chronic condition that wasn’t curable?
Thankfully, I had supportive parents and they helped me get through this time along with my trust in God. I finally reached a place where I accepted my diagnosis and realized that God had a purpose for me and that diabetes could be used in a positive way. My diagnosis was teaching me how to deal with tough situations which would shape my life forever.
After that, I had a pretty normal existence. At this point, I was taking 4 insulin shots a day but I was well controlled. Then in 2005, I was introduced to an insulin pump which has been the best thing ever. When I need insulin now, I just push a button and if I don’t eat, I don’t have to take insulin at all because the pump provides me a constant stream of insulin all day long (just like a person with a pancreas that works appropriately). And my pump settings and amount of insulin given at different times of the day is personalized to me.
Also, during this time, it was determined that all carbs impact the body in a similar way so sweets didn’t have to be completely avoided by people with diabetes any longer. If carbs were counted and insulin given accordingly, people with diabetes could now enjoy some sweets in reasonable amounts.
So what does my diabetic life look like today? I have to be honest, I don’t do everything perfectly but I try to manage my diabetes well. There are times when I don’t check my bloodsugar as often as I should but I do attend all my every 3-month endocrinologist appointments and my HbA1c results average 6.8 (the doctor has said anything less than 7 for me as someone with Type I diabetes is good). I also get my eye exam annually. Other than having 3 premature babies (all overall healthy, just born early), I haven’t had any complications related to my diabetes. I exercise at the gym at least 2 days out of the week for 1 ½ hours each time and try to eat healthy most of the time (I do splurge occasionally though).
I still occasionally have the thought of “why me” but I remind myself to not get discouraged because I have a chronic condition, to live in the healthiest way possible, and encourage others through my experience. Diabetes doesn’t define who I am but has contributed to the person I have become.
Presented by: Angela Allo
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