Imagine being a happy 23-year-old who always took care of yourself and getting the news that you have type 1 diabetes. Suddenly, everything changes. This is exactly what happened to one of our Arizona Olive Oil/Blue Sky Mercantile family members, Hayley.
Hayley was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in November of 2017 at the age of 23. We asked her what events led up to this surprise diagnosis, she says:
“About a year to six months before my diagnosis, I lost about 50+ pounds, which didn’t seem like a big deal. I just thought I was finally doing something right with my workouts and/or eating habits. Then during my second semester of senior year at MSU, I was constantly thirsty and that resulted in constant trips to the bathroom, plus dry mouth. All of these things should have been red flags, but I went on with graduation and my summer internship. Then when I moved back home in fall of 2017, I got this terrible “cold” that lasted about 2.5 weeks and that’s when I finally went to the doctor.”
The emotions were strong when Hayley received her diagnosis – she “cried, a lot!”, but there was a more pressing matter at hand that required immediate attention in the emergency room. Her blood sugar level was 576, this is VERY high – the normal blood sugar level in adults are less than 100 (WebMD).
“I had diabetic ketoacidosis which is very dangerous. Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA) is a complication from diabetes resulting from high blood sugars and ketones in the blood. It can be life threatening and is a common factor when people are first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Not enough people know about DKA though and so I feel it needs more recognition! Beyond Type 1 is trying to spread the word about this with a campaign they are running.”
At the time of her diagnosis, Hayley (like a lot of people) did not know much at all about Type 1 diabetes. According to the Mayo Clinic, Type 1 diabetes “is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells to produce energy.” Unlike type 2 diabetes, type 1 does not develop due to a person’s lifestyle. Hayley did not know this at the time of her diagnosis:
“I honestly didn’t know a lot about type 1 besides the basics of checking your blood and giving yourself insulin at meals, there is a lot more that goes into it. The biggest thing I did know that I want more people to know is that type 1 diabetes is a genetic form of diabetes and it in no way has anything to do with my lifestyle/eating habits.”
A type 1 diabetes diagnosis brings along a lot of sudden lifestyle changes that can be very hard to adapt to. Most notable, it requires meticulous meal planning and counting carbs to ensure that you administer the proper amount of insulin before eating. This is something Hayley is “not quite used to yet.” She says she “learns something about diabetes, or more specifically my diabetes almost every day.”
Admittedly, there are days where Hayley is pessimistic, but she reminds herself that she can still do and eat everything she wants to, as long as she keeps up with her diabetes. To deal with the negative days, Hayley keeps a sense of humor around her diagnosis. “Honestly, when dealing with something like this that changes your everyday life, you need to have a sense of humor.” She even created an Instagram account called Life’s a Prick because “Life is a prick, whether you have diabetes or not, and since I have diabetes it is a literal prick because I have to prick myself 4+ times a day.”
Hayley is passionate about educating people on type 1 diabetes, and the different types of diabetes. She is “tired of ignorant comments”. To learn more about type 1 diabetes, she recommends visiting her favorite organization Beyond Type 1. “They are trying really hard to educate people on the specifics of type 1 diabetes and more specifically Diabetic Ketoacidosis which is very dangerous for diabetics and how many people discover they have diabetes. Beyond Type 1 has many other tools for diabetics and their families and friends.” She also recently learned about a local Greater Mankato area charity, Camp Sweet Life, a camp for kids with type 1 diabetes. “I think it is an amazing organization. It’s cool to let these kids with t1d enjoy camp without constantly having to worry about whether or not someone will know what to do if they have a low/high blood sugar.”
We want to thank Hayley for taking the time to share her incredible story, and we hope you are inspired to learn more about type 1 diabetes and the different charities that support t1d research.
I am a 24-year-old college grad. I studied sport management at Minnesota State University, Mankato. I currently work at Arizona Olive Oil Co./Blue Skye Mercantile while trying to decide if I should go to grad school or not. Big fan of baking, naps and my puppy, Loki.