Photo: V1ctor Casale
by Ana Llimet
Editor’s Note: This story is published in We’Ced Youth Magazine Issue #3
A burger, some fries, and a soda. Mmm, sounds good… to most people. But for me, a young diabetic, it sounds like a headache. The bread and fries have lots of carbohydrates, which turn into sugar, and the soda is already pure sugar. Now, that just sounds like poison. To use a skateboarding metaphor, adjusting to life as a diabetic wasn’t like doing an ollie off a two-stair — it was more like a tre flip off a nine-stair. Not easy.
More than 8 percent of people in the U.S. have diabetes, and it comes in different forms: type1 and type 2.
Type 1 is a disease you are born with – these diabetics can’t produce insulin naturally, so they need insulin injections in order to survive. Insulin helps your body turn blood sugar glucose into energy. Only 5 percent of all diabetics have type 1.
[pullquote_left]All my life, sugar is what I craved: candy, chips, soda, fast foods and more. Like most young people, I didn’t make healthy choices and didn’t really think about how food affected me.[/pullquote_left]
Type 2 is the more common of the two, and millions of Americans are diagnosed with it each year. This type of diabetes develops over time, and is largely determined by a person’s lifestyle. Eventually, a person who develops type 2 can’t create enough insulin or their cells ignore the insulin. There are medications for type 2, which can be cured in those dedicated to making healthy choices.
Type 2 diabetes is being reported among U.S. children and adolescents with increasing frequency, but since it can be difficult to detect, it can go undiagnosed for a long time. Children may have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Luckily, that wasn’t the case with me. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes as a teenager, but the story of how I got it goes back to my early childhood.
All my life, sugar is what I craved: candy, chips, soda, fast foods and more. Like most young people, I didn’t make healthy choices and didn’t really think about how food affected me.
I remember feeling symptoms for the first time during my sophomore year in high school, when I noticed I was getting headaches after school. This went on for months until it wasn’t just that throbbing pain on the sides of my head anymore — it had turned into an intense bubbling feeling throughout my head, as if my brain was melting. Tylenol, Excedrin, Vicodin and then muscle relaxers — nothing seemed to relieve my agonizing headaches. I seriously thought I was dying and that something was wrong with my head, so I told my mom and she made me a doctor’s appointment.
The doctor asked if diabetes ran in my family, which unfortunately, it does. The doctor told me that headaches are a symptom of diabetes and that being overweight (as I was) is primary cause of the disease. She was so confident that I had diabetes, in fact, that she didn’t even mention other possibilities and had me take blood test to confirm it.