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Diabetic & Me

Drea Vail

Drea Vail

Hello! Who are you? And tell us a little bit more about your diabetes.

Hey everyone! My name is Drea Vail. I’m 23 years old and currently living in United States. I have type 1 diabetes for a total of 3,5 years.

I was diagnosed when I was 19 years old. I love writing, traveling, meeting new people, sports, and the outdoors. I especially love interacting with the T1 community!

Didn’t grow up with diabetes – but even at 19/20 years old it took me a long time to not hide my diabetes. I have truly become much more outspoken and I love sharing my story now.

It was both financially and emotionally hard. Thankfully, I had Medicaid and now a full time job, but my family is low income. My family does not participate much emotionally, as I was away from home when diagnosed; however handling the anxiety and desire to be perfect with diabetes has been the hardest part for me.

“It was both financially and emotionally hard.”

Your treatment

How do you treat your diabetes, did a lot change over the past years and are you able to manage it well?

Currently I use long acting insulin, rapid at every meal/for corrections. I like to stay active and follow healthy habits as this helps. I am using Lantus and Humalog insulin. Before that I used Levemir and Novolog.

My outlook on life, how active I am and how I approach situations has changed. It has slowed me down, which is a negative. But everyday I get stronger, as a positive. I know I’ll get back on track the more I experience.

I think I am managing my diabetes okay. I am always below 7.0. But the mental issues with diabetes have been by FAR the hardest for me. Luckily I have friends, co-workers and an endocrinologist team that helps me out.

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?

Sometimes, I can recognize them. When my blood sugar goes low I feel anxiety first, shaking and confused. When it’s on the high side I get so dehydrated and have to pee constantly.

I have a Dexcom and I am pretty “obsessive”, so basically every 10 minutes I check my blood sugar levels.

It depends on the situation but when my blood sugar goes low I love apples and fruit… but sometimes I use whatever I can grab to treat it.

I fainted one time when I was living in Africa a year into my diagnosis. I think my blood sugar was around 40 for hours and I didn’t even realize. My hypos can be so severe they make me not even remember things. Like, that I need to check my sugars. I was just standing there and fell down. Thankfully I got up quick (adrenaline kicked in fast!) and chugged some soda. My emotions are so out of whack when I’m low. I remember crying for no reason for like 15 minutes. Thankfully some good friends helped me through!

Drea Vail

Dexcom CGM

Food and diet

How does your diabetes affect your eating and do you find being on a diet restrictive?

I eat LOTS of veggies and protein. I am recently recovering from disorderly eating, so I try to stay super consistent. I eat at typical morning, afternoon, and dinner times. But this obviously can’t always happen. So I try my best to eat when I can.

Of course I vary my insulin intake based on what I eat! Recently I am learning how to do this, but (I’m on pens) almost always need like 70% up front 30% later of a dose for anything like high fat and carbs.

I try my best to drink lots of water! But let’s be real, it’s never enough! I sometimes skip meals and eat snacks with protein! Trying to find a good snack besides dairy. Dairy is been making me sick.

I find being on a diet restrictive. My family is Italian, so life is all about eating with a bunch of people all the time. This can be hard when I don’t want to constantly have no idea what will happen with my sugars. I try to find a balance – diet on work days. Weekends can be more free.

I get annoyed when people ask me if I can eat certain food or not. I think a better way to phrase it would be like, do you like this food? How does this food work with your diabetes?

Do you believe that a plant based diet can improve diabetes? Did you ever experiment with this?

I mean… yes. It’s helpful when you don’t really know all the intricate parts. It makes it EASIER, like you don’t always need to add more insulin or activity, so it’s easier to live life and let the insulin do its job. BUT I think, from experience, sometimes the mental toll that super strict eating takes on you might decrease your control. It’s important to remember you can live a little still!

Do you have a hard time eating out in a restaurant? And what are you thoughts on making this easier?

YES YES YES. Adding carb count to menus or online would be awesome!

“I eat LOTS of veggies and protein. I am recently recovering from disorderly eating, so I try to stay super consistent.”

Exercise and work

Does your diabetes restrict you from exercise or your daily job?

I play basketball, go hiking, go walking and I do strength exercise. Whenever I can so like a walk a day.

I am an administrative professional. It 100% does affect my diabetes. Diabetes is a full time job.

Drea Vail

Final

Do you have any positive or negative effects because of your diabetes?

I try to manage my diabetes better with long walks when I can after eating, getting a lot of sleep, no alcohol, and honestly just doing things I enjoy with people I love.

The hardest part is anxiety and having to miss out on life a lot. Having mental health issues, financial issues and issues with feeling close and connected to those who don’t struggle with a chronic illness.

The best part is that it made me leave bad relationships, jobs, places, and only do what I love!

The crazy weather changes in Colorado mess with how much insulin I need! It makes it easier to be active!

What is the best advice that you can give to non-diabetics, new diagnosed diabetics and diabetics?

Hmm, just to think twice before saying something because this is really hard and your words have large impacts. It’s okay if you don’t know, be curious and ask me!

It will be okay. There’s going to be good and bad moments, but remember there will always be another good moment. Find a way to use this to your advantage and still no matter what, pursue your passions and surround yourself with good people who love you! Ask for help if you need.

Be open and honest about your feelings, sugar levels and needs. Everything you feel is valid.

What would you ask the other diabetics?

Do any of us even know what’s going on, like ever? 😉

Feel free to answer in the comments below.

Want to publish your own story?

Hey! I’m Ely Fornoville, the founder of Diabetic & Me .

We interview people with diabetes share the stories behind their lives. By sharing these stories, we want to help others to understand life with diabetes.

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