April 15, 2021

Student shares experience, offers insight into living with diabetes

(Featured image courtesy of Brooke Taylor)

Brooke Taylor, fourth-year senior public relations and emerging media major, has had Type 1 diabetes since she was twelve.

“So I am coming up on my 10 year anniversary this summer – which is kind of wild because I do remember a life without having it but now I’m so used to having this life that It’s starting to fade away. I’ll have had it for most of my life in a couple years.”

Taylor explained that diabetes can be a rollercoaster of an experience. Anything from body colds to certain foods can drastically affect blood sugar levels.

“It’s crazy to me because a regular Coca-Cola can kill me,” Taylor said. “In October, my roommate had to drive me to the hospital because McDonald’s gave me a regular coke – and I had ordered a diet coke which I’m allowed to drink because it has no carbs, and it kind of tasted funny but I thought there was just something wrong with the syrup machine.”

Taylor’s blood sugar spiked which led to dizziness and intense nausea. In addition, Taylor had another hospital visit when she found herself on her bathroom floor without any recollection of how she got there. This was due to her battling a serious cold, which is harder for Type 1 diabetics to fight off.

“Obviously there is a stigma with diabetes. I’ve heard the jokes, I‘ve grown up with the jokes, which you’d think almost having it for 10 years I would get over by now, but the jokes still hurt. Sometimes my friends and I will make jokes about it, because some of my friends have Type 1, but I wish that people would know there’s a difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.”

Type 2 diabetes is usually based on an individual’s health and diagnosed later in life. Type 1 diabetes is classified as being juvenile rather than an adult onset.

“I want people to know that it’s not as easy as just taking your blood sugar and taking your insulin – everything is affected,” Taylor said. “My mood is affected, what my blood sugar is at – if it’s high for whatever reason, it takes a couple days to bounce back from that. “

Taylor uses a dexcom – an advanced blood sugar monitor that sends notifications directly to her smartphone so she doesn’t have to manually monitor her sugar levels, and an omnipod – an insulin pump. 

“I don’t always enjoy having gadgets, but I used to babysit and the kids were very fond of asking what they were and where they were gonna go when I changed them. Like if it was on my arm or on my leg, I’d tell them they were my robo gadgets that help keep me alive. I put them on my arms or my stomach, and sometimes on my thigh.”

Taylor finds that wearing medical devices, specifically diabetes gadgets, is not openly accepted and normalized in society. 

“I want medical devices to be normalized; people ask me sometimes if I’m comfortable wearing clothes where my gadgets are showing,” Taylor said. “And even if people don’t ask, I’ll get looks in public about it. I hope that soon enough everyone is okay with people who are not able bodied and their devices.”

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