I can honestly say that my mother and father saved my life. I would not be here today if they were not by my side. During a scary, worrisome time in my life, both of my parents provided an enormous amount of love and support in different ways.
My mother is my best travel buddy, my protector, my personal advocator, my number one cheerleader, and my soulmate. She was the only person first hand to witness my traumatic and life-changing diagnoses of type 1 diabetes. When I was 23 years old, my mom and I decided to take a mother-daughter summer trip to travel all across Europe. I began the trip excited and enthusiastic, but progressively started to get sicker and sicker. I had no energy, quickly lost a ton of weight, constantly drinking water like a camel, and urgently going to the bathroom like a racehorse. With my symptoms getting worse every day, I would have never had gone to the hospital without my mother’s natural intuition, guidance and support.
There we were in a foreign country where I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and taken to the ICU for days to bring my body out of diabetic ketoacidosis. My mom sat with me, holding my hand, as the doctors poked and prodded me with needles and IVs. We shared many tears wondering why this had to happen and how our highly anticipated trip made an unforeseen turn.
Once I was released, I started my new life as a type 1 diabetic. I had to reteach myself everything while trying to travel the rest of Europe. I had to quickly learn how to eat, exercise, manage daily stress, administer my own injections, and know what my body feels like when my blood sugar is high or low. My mom was there for me every step of the way, adjusting to her own feelings and figuring out how she could help me. When I experienced one of my first low blood sugar moments while walking around ancient Pompeii, my mom was there to sit me down as I was shaking and sweating. She was the one to help feed me candies to bring my blood sugar back up and to rest with me until I was ready to continue the tour.
During that summer, my mom and I were able to travel to five different countries for two months without seeing an American doctor. We were just surviving on our little knowledge of type 1 that we taught ourselves through online research and scarcely talking with my father, who was back in the United States. We pushed through our tough times and continued to think positively as the challenges of traveling and my disease tested us. I would have never been able to do any of that without my mother’s consistent support, unconditional love, intuition, and the will to keep moving forward beyond my disease.
At the same time, my father played a huge role in my survival as a fellow type 1 warrior, my teacher, my protector, and my role model. He has been living with type 1 for 20 years and I truly feel so unbelievably blessed that he understands everything that I feel: the complications, the frustrations, the depression, the good numbers, the lows, everything.
When my mom and I were traveling, I had very limited access to talk to my dad to tell him about my devastating news. The only way I was able to talk to him was stumbling across internet cafes where wifi was available, which wasn’t that common. But I did my best to keep in touch with him. He was able to explain to me what was happening to my body when my blood sugar was low or high. He taught me how certain kind of foods react to my blood sugar and how to figure out my own carbohydrate-to-insulin ratio. He told me how to get over my fear of needles and how to correctly take my insulin shots. He taught me how crucial it is to listen to your own body and to understand what it needs. Across different continents, he was able to teach me all of this and more, giving me confidence in understanding my disease.
Thanks, Mom and Dad, for your positive outlook. Knowing that I have you both in my corner at all times reminds me that I can conquer anything that I set my mind to.
(Article published on Further Food here)
Food itself can have an amazing journey. I have always loved food. Who doesn’t love food!? Cooking and creating recipes with my mom was always one of my favorite things to do when I was little.. and it still is to this day. Throughout all my travels around the world, I have loved experiencing each country through its food. It is the best way to fully indulge, submerge, and understand the cultures.
Even being diagnosed, at 23, with the incurable unpreventable autoimmune disease, Type 1 Diabetes, has given me a whole new adventure and experimentation with food. I do have to say in my life before I was diagnosed, I could eat whatever I wanted. I was a health conscious and very active person, but I really never thought twice about how many grams of something there is or what kind of sweeteners are used or what I put into my body. So now in my life, after my diagnosis, I became way more focused about what I eat and how it reacts with my body. I now keep track of how many grams of sugar, carbs, and protein are in each piece of food. I study the backs of products for the Nutritional Facts labels. I research what kinds of alternatives can work to replace certain “bad” foods. I experiment with how my body performs during a workout after eating specific foods. It is quite a blessing to be able to have my eyes opened to my body’s sensitivities. Even though it took a disease to show me more in depth about food and what it can do for my body, I am glad it did.
I think every person has a food journey. I think that everyone should be able to look more closely into their food and how it affects their bodies, whether they have a disease or not. Every body is different, so finding what foods work specifically for YOU is one of the best lessons that you can learn in life. And now I have as much fun in the kitchen as I did before Type1 because I like the challenge of making my food healthy as much as I like to make my presentation beautiful!
Check out my latest publication on Further Food! It features my food journey to finding what works for my body and my condition, a list of the foods I love, and some of my fun recipes too! Read about my article on Further Food here!
I am also very honored to be chosen as Further Food’s official “Health Hero” to help others create new food masterpieces in the kitchen and inspire them to follow their own food journey.
What is your “something”?
This ideology of a “something” is an idea that I have came up with during my first week of being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. As I was first battling the depression and anger of becoming diagnosed, I was forced with facts and having to change my perspective. It dawned on me and forever changed my life. Not everyone goes through life without battling “something.” A “something” can be a diagnoses, addiction, a broken leg, family problems, death, any kind of thing that can be thought of as a “set back.” Everyone has to deal with some kind of thing in life that isn’t perfect. No one is perfect. We can often be caught up with the notion that our society silently states that everyone is normal, and if your aren’t “normal,” you are different, and different is bad. No, being different is not bad, it’s wonderful. It can push you beyond your limits and surprise you how strong of a person you really are. Your “something” is unique, it is hard, but it can be empowering to move you to prove your strength to yourself. I often fight the image of being seen as a “weak” person because of my “something” and I love to prove them wrong when I can conquer it with strength and grace. Perspective is what changes it all. Perspective can hold the key to let your “something” be a part of you and not let it hold you back.
Read my first published article, “The Newly Diagnosed Vacation” on Insulin Nation, a great site tackling the issues of Type 1. The story I write about reflects how I changed my mindset of my diagnosis from being a hardship, into a challenge that I must face and overcome. I talk about how I was first introduced to seeing that Type 1 is my “something” and accepting it.
Find your “something” and embrace.