Hello! Who are you? And tell us a little bit more about your diabetes.
No…I DON’T like lobstahhh. Ekkk, I think they look like giant beetles. BUT, they are a free food! I don’t remember life without diabetes. I was diagnosed when I was four years old. I am living a life fueled by insulin and design. I am a university student where I am majoring in fine arts, and double minoring in business and graphic design! When I am not hitting the books or picking up a paint brush I am running my instagram blog @t1Design_, getting a cup of coffee or going for a run!
I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was four years old. By the time I was five I was giving myself shots! I have never hidden my diabetes. From a young age I have been confident about my diabetes. But, I remember how nervous I was to go to kindergarten. My parents were even more anxious. Who would take care of me? What would happen if I went low and didn’t feel it?! What if I ate someone else’s snacks (I would totally do that hehe) and didn’t bolus?! I remember going to orientation with my mom. When we walked into my classroom, before my mom even greeted my teacher, she took a sharp inhale, and squeezed my small fingers into her hand. Then I saw it. I knew she wasn’t gasping out of fear. Fastened to my kindergarten teachers hip was an insulin pump! That day still remains to be one of the best days of my life. Seeing her wear her pump so beautifully gave me the confidence to do that same.
One of the reasons I love running T1Design is because it allows me to inspire people, especially younger diabetics to own their diabetes! I like showing off my pump, and my scars. They are beautiful because they represent the hours of discipline, and love that I put into my health.
Getting diagnosed with type one diabetes was emotionally hardest for my family. When I was diagnosed I was still very young and I didn’t fully understand what was going on. It was hardest on my mom. My mom’s father had diabetes and suffered from complications. My mom became one of his caretakers just before he passed away, which was before I was born. She witnessed how sick it made him. From the beginning my mom was very straight forward with me and taught me that “Everyone has something”. She said; “You just know what your thing is sooner than most people.” She taught me the value of being disciplined meant that I would feel good. I have tools that my grandfather never would have even dreamed of having. I am extremely grateful for my gadgets and for changing the way people view diabetes.
Art that I make with T1Design.
“I hate to be cliché, but, some actions do speak louder than words!”
How do you treat your diabetes, did a lot change over the past years and are you able to manage it well?
I have been managing the technical aspects of my diabetes for years now. Although, I know that I could never be my healthiest if I didn’t get support from others. Getting support from my friends, family, doctors and nurses gives me a stronger mentality.
I have had the same team of diabetic educators since I was four. They help me stay motivated and focused. During my earlier teenage years I would dread my appointments with them. I didn’t realize that being honest and vulnerable with them would bring me so much success! Now I look forward to communicating with my diabetes educators and endocrinologist!
I also get a lot of support from my friends. In any new friendship or relationship I think there is a sweet spot where I feel comfortable telling them about my diabetes, and where they become curious. I love educating my friends about it! A good friend wants to care and make sure that I am healthy and safe. They can only do so if I have the confidence to be open about it and help them learn. Now I have friends that yell at me if they haven’t seen me test my blood sugar. Some of them even keep extra juice boxes in their cars for me.
I find the most relatability and humor about diabetes with my diabetic friends. That is part of the reason I started T1Design! I want to create a community where we can share, laugh, and learn from each other.
To treat my diabetes I use the Medtronic 670G insulin pump with Humalog insulin and the Guardian Sensor 3 CGM. I also used Novolog and Lantus insulin when I was using insulin pens before I had my insulin pump!
The thing that changed the most of the years is that I have become really confident!
I believe I manage my diabetes very well!! Regardless, I still have little burnouts.
Can you recognize the symptoms of a low/high blood sugar? Do you test often and can you tell a bit more about your experiences with low blood sugar?
Yes, I can recognize them. When I get a low blood sugar I crave high carb foods. I get very shaky, my hearing goes in and out, I become very clumsy, I get spacey and sweaty. When I get a high blood sugar I get super angry, thirsty and sensitive.
I test my blood sugar levels around 6 to 8 times a day if I have my CGM on.
Depending on my blood sugar I treat my hypos with 15 to 20g of fast acting carbohydrates and try not to EAT EVERYTHING IN SITE!! But, I do like to make my hypo treats fun and I often mix them up! I like skittles, jelly beans and juice boxes!
Here is a pro tip for ya:
Always keep a sugar free juice on hand as well. For example, Crystal Light or Vitamin Water Zero. Sometimes when I go low I want to drink and eat sugary foods until I feel better. To avoid this I treat my blood sugar, and then drink a vitamin water or glass of sugar free lemonade while I wait for my sugars to return to normal!
I have not fainted because of a hypo.
Food and diet
How does your diabetes affect your eating and do you find being on a diet restrictive?
Lately I have been eating two frozen waffles with peanut butter or an apple with peanut butter for breakfast! Lunch is usually something along the lines of a sandwich and dinner typically consists of a protein, carb and some veggies. I usually eat breakfast around 10AM, lunch around 3PM and a late dinner around 7PM. I like having a protein and a carb. It sustains my energy and blood sugars well!
However, I don’t follow a meal plan. What I eat and when I eat varies. The most important thing for me is that I don’t snack uncontrollably. It is important that I pre-bolus for my meals and eat them all! I never skip any meals and I love cheese!
I LOVE to snack and I always have candy around. If I am at school and walking around campus a lot on a busy day my sugars tend to drop. So, I like to keep Skittles, Swedish Fish, Starbursts or Smarties in my bag to snack on! If I am NOT going low, I always appreciate a good cheese stick, pepperoni, beef jerky, celery, nuts, pickles or olives. So, basically a crummy cheese board!
Sometimes when I exercise later in the day I get delayed hypos. So I will tend to drop in the middle of the night or right before bed. This happens especially when I run! I typically run around 6PM. Depending on my blood sugar before bed, and if I ran, I will have about 10g of long lasting carbohydrates with protein. This helps keep me steady through the night!
I don’t vary my insulin intake. Instead I like to eat smaller amounts of carbs. I find more success in getting my insulin to carb ratios right when I eat less carbs!
It depends on the day but I always keep a water bottle near by! I get super dehydrated sometimes, especially if I work out! I need to work on my water drinking game!
YEP I do find being on a diet restrictive! I don’t like it. It messes with my head. I find that eating no more than 40-50 carbohydrates per meal keeps me healthy! I always try to toss in lots veggies if I can!!
I think people are curious and whenever they ask me about a certain food I can or can’t eat I don’t get annoyed. They don’t fully understand it. I like to take those moments as an opportunity to educate someone.
Do you believe that a plant based diet can improve diabetes? Did you ever experiment with this?
I think I eat a lot of plant based foods now and it certainly keeps me healthy! But for me to focus on just eating plant based foods would be unhealthy. As a type one diabetic I need fast acting sugars and a juice box is often the best remedy. I also eat a lot of meats because they keep my energy sustained and are lower in carbs so it is easier for me to manage my insulin to carb ratios. However, everyone has their thing that works best for them. If a plant based diet works for you then, YAY! Get those fruits and veggies in!!
Do you have a hard time eating out in a restaurant? And what are you thoughts on making this easier?
There are certain moments that you have to just let loose and roll with it. I don’t eat out often but I think it is super fun to go out! I wouldn’t let my diabetes stop me from going out to get a good burger!! To make it easier I test my blood sugar about an hour before I get to a restaurant so I’m in perfect condition to munch! I test again, before I decide on what I am eating. If I am a little bit higher I will roll with a salad or low carb protein!
After I put my order in I make sure to bolus then. Bolusing 15 minutes before a meal is important because that’s about how long it takes for insulin to reach its peak and become active in your body. It’s like giving the insulin a head start in the race against your digestion process and prevents a spike in your blood sugar!
I am gluten intolerant, so any restaurant with yummy gluten free options are my favorite. I LOVE Elevation Burger. I vibe with a good lettuce wrapped burger!
“Everyday is a new day!”
Exercise and work
Does your diabetes restrict you from exercise or your daily job?
I exercise 4-5 times a week!
I am a student and a growing artist! Besides stress I experience no physical labor that affects my diabetes.
Do you have any positive or negative effects because of your diabetes?
To manage my diabetes better I try to get lots of sleep!
The hardest part about being diabetic is that there is no break. I imagine it is kind of what having a kid feels like. My sensor wakes me up every night, I am constantly thinking ahead, before every meal, every time I drive, before I go to bed and right when I wake up. For example, the other day day my CGM was blaring and beeping when I was trying to relax and take a bath. Like a baby, or young child, you can’t ignore it, it only gets better if you give it love and care. Woah, I’m sorry but I am going to be such a sick mom, haha.
The best thing is that I am really thankful for all of the things diabetes has taught me. I am the definition of rolling with the punches. I have also become very good at advocating for myself. The truth is most people are very flexible and understanding once they understand your circumstances! Most importantly diabetes has allowed me to make closer connections with people and not just with diabetics. It forces me to be vulnerable and strong at the same time. In every class, or job I take I explain to my professor or employer what happens when I get a low or high blood sugar. By sharing something so personal it allows me to make a connection with these people. It is also very comforting to know that all around the world there are people that understand your day to day routine in a way that others never will and that is kind of special!
What is the best advice that you can give to non-diabetics, new diagnosed diabetics and diabetics?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
I hate to be cliché, but, some actions do speak louder than words! In the past when someone in my community is diagnosed with diabetes my mom and I have put together a basket full of free foods. Baked cheese crackers, beef jerky, Slim Jims, olives, pickles, meringue, ect… It is a nice gesture and reminds them that they are not alone!!
As my counselor Carly form Clara Barton Camp used to say, “Everyday is a new day!”.
What would you ask the other diabetics?
How did quarantine/Covid-19 effect your diabetes?
Feel free to answer in the comments below.
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Hey! I'm Ely Fornoville, the founder of Diabetic & Me.
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