The Struggle, the Journey and Lessons Learned with Type 2 Diabetes

Speak Now for Kids is celebrating Diabetes Awareness Month in November to raise awareness about diabetes risk factors and encourage people to make healthy changes. This week, we spoke with Trina about her journey with type 2 diabetes and the experience of parenting son, Avery, who also has the disease.

About 30.3 million people in the United States have diabetes — it is one of the leading causes of disability and death. Yet, one in four people with diabetes don’t know they have the disease. Diabetes can cause blindness, nerve damage, kidney disease and other health problems if not controlled. But thankfully, people with diabetes can properly manage the disease by living a healthy lifestyle. 

For many years, my blood sugar was uncontrolled at high levels. If I have high glycemic food such as pasta or rice, it would trigger my brain to have more — and the cycle begins. On the outside, I had an active social life with my friends and was often praised for being a good employee. But in private, I was a real mess. I struggled with foggy brain, depression, nerve pain, skin infections, shoulder calcifications, fatigue and panic attacks.

Over the years, most of the doctors and hospitals I visited mentioned the risk of amputations, dialysis and kidney failure. Even though there are medications to control my blood sugar, the side effects made me not want to take them. They gave me gastrointestinal discomfort, painful cramps, diarrhea, gas and uncontrollable sulphur burps. I was always so embarrassed and in pain. I definitely felt the stigma that many people with type 2 diabetes experience.

When I found out that my son, Avery, had type 2 diabetes I was a little scared. I was his age when I was diagnosed — I didn’t want Avery to have the same experience that I had. I would advise parents of kids with type 2 diabetes to not only listen to the doctors, but also do their own research and talk with their child. We also enrolled him a clinical study from the National Institutes of Health and Children’s National Health System that helped him to take control of his disease.

As a mother who has diabetes, I understand that there will be times when Avery doesn’t feel like taking his medications. When he wants a break from medications, I would encourage him to exercise, watch what he eats and monitor his blood sugar level constantly. Because Avery likes soda, we compromise with low-sugar Sprite Zero. I tell him that he can’t drink this every day, but I don’t take it away. We learn to practice harm reduction through moderation and substitution.

There is a need for more awareness and acceptance of the role that sugar addiction plays in the development of type 2 diabetes. Parents can help their kids lower the chances of developing type 2 diabetes by encouraging them to move more and eat healthy foods. Getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day and choosing the right foods can help prevent type 2 diabetes.

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