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Diabetic & Me

Justin Santana

Justin Santana

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

Hey everyone! My name is Justin Santana. I’m 20 years old and currently living in United States. I have type 1 diabetes for a total of 14 years.

I grow up with diabetes. It was easy at first because my mom was helpful the first few months. Then my cousin which was also a type one diabetic gave my soooo many tips and helped a lot along with my aunt. I tried to hide it for a while. It’s only been recently that I tell people I’m diabetic. I use to only tell people when it was necessary.

The hardest part for me was I couldn’t understand why I was treated so differently. I didn’t want to be different from anyone and that’s how I felt all the time. In school it was worse because they never let me do anything and I started to get sad even at a young age I just started to stay in a lot. In middle school I went out more because I wanted to break out my shell. But during high school I just didn’t wanna go out. I got depressed and I gained a habit of stress eating. Financially to my knowledge we never had problems. My mother never complained about that type of stuff.

“The hardest part for me was I couldn’t understand why I was treated so differently.”

Your treatment

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

I use an Omnipod. I get 1.50 units from 12am to 12pm and from 1.75 units from 12pm to 8pm. I also have a Dexcom G6 that I use to manager my sugars. I use Humalog insulin and used to have Novolog. But it didn’t agree with my body so I went back to Humalog

A lot has changed. My weight fluctuated so much. It got worse with the stress eating. It’s kinda bad still but I’m working on it really hard. I got depressed and still am over the years. Just didn’t know how to deal with being different from everyone, it sucked so much out of me.

I think I manage my diabetes well because my sugars are well controlled. My A1C is at a 6.5. I get support from my girlfriend heavily now. My family knows I have diabetes and I guess they just don’t worry as much. My girlfriend on the other hand is super duper on top of me 24/7 making sure I’m healthy mentally and physically.

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 sugars are low I get cold sweats and sticky skin oddly. My heart rate goes through the roof. When my sugars are high my mouth is dry. I get a really bad bad attitude automatically and I’m really sluggish.

My glucose levels are constantly monitored with my Dexcom.

I eat anything I can get my hands on. to treat a hypo.

I fainted once because my schools nurse thought it would be good to have me walk to the elevator instead of use a wheelchair so as I was walking I went head first into the floor. It sucker but I got up a few seconds after on my own the schools staff was of no use when that happened.

Justin Santana

Omnipod + Dexcom G6

Food and diet

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

Breakfast depends. Could be fruit bowl. Eggs bacon with toast. Bacon egg and cheese from the bodega or cereal. Sometimes I don’t eat. It’s really hard to pin point. Lunch isn’t even something I can put my finger on. Sushi, ramen, Thai food, Chinese food, Halal food, Spanish or the corner store sandwiches. It’s hard to pin point and it’s the same with dinner. Sometimes I skip meals. Sometimes I eat snacks, depending if the meal wasn’t enough.

I do drink lots of water, a gallon a day as crazy as that sounds. I don’t find being on a diet restrictive. It’s only restrictive if you don’t find things to eat. Or find different ways to eat it.

I tell people many times it’s none of their business when they ask about what I eat. I had to tell my teacher to go fuck him self because he kept pressing me about it so much and it wasn’t even big things. Fruits or even a candy bar I was splitting with someone. I find my self having to snap at people that don’t get the point it’s my body. I control this!

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

I experimented with it and it does help out a bit more. The carbs aren’t so complex and it’s easier to dose and know the right amount.

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

I do sometimes. A lot of the meals I eat have so much stuff going on you can’t pin point the actual carbs and have to guess off of Google. I think all restaurant should have a carb list for the meals. Mandatory everywhere. We deserve that, because having to guess if 93 carbs is a lot and then it not being enough for the meal is ANNOYING.

“I’m a ‘good’ diabetic.”

Exercise and work

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

I exercise 3 times a week for an hour maybe 2 hours. I’m a freelance designer and videographer. It actually helps my diabetes because all the movement is good. Also almost all the sets I’m on have amazing lunches with very low carbs and a lot of the time it’s vegan, which is so good.

Final

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

I think I’m heavily on top of my diabetes so other than my eating habits when I’m stressed. I’m a “good” diabetic.

The hardest part is the depression. It affects all of us and it sucks. There is no real place to go that’ll understand you, because therapists don’t even try to understand your point of view. There is no best part in my eyes.

The amount of foods in New York City kinda have negative impact because there are so many cultures here. You don’t know what to eat or how many carbs are in the food.

I don’t have the feeling anything else is causing problems.

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

I would like them to know that it’s not like your grandma’s diabetes. It’s not like your aunt’s. It’s my diabetes. All of us are different so treat it different. Also I can eat what I want as long as I get my insulin and my Dexcom. Leave me alone already!

The piece Of advice I can give is get an insulin pump and cgm. Also don’t let allow ur self to slip into the ditch of sadness we all get. Pick your self up and take care of your self.

What would you ask the other diabetics?

Did diabetes affected your eyes, toes or fingers?

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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