The inspiring story of Sophomore Natalia Colon
November is National Diabetes month and this year the main focus is on taking care of the youth who have diabetes. Approximately 193,000 people under the age of 20 suffer from diabetes, one of the most common chronic conditions. Many students, who have to attend school while suffering from this condition, often develop a plan to adjust and manage their diabetes as needed. Most self-care plans include: managing blood glucose, healthy habits, emergency kits, and mental health support.
To shed some light on what it’s like to live and go to school with diabetes, I recently sat down with Sophomore Natalia Colon, a MAST student, who decided to spread awareness and talk about her experience with type 1 diabetes, as well as how she manages to balance her condition with school.
Natalia shared that she often feels overwhelmed, “Since a very young age I have been independent when it comes to managing my diabetes”. This is the case for many young students; they are often taught to manage their blood sugar levels at school and learn when they need to take their prescribed medicine. Although she suffers from this condition, she doesn’t let that dictate what she can or can’t do. She highlights her everyday lifestyle and what she does to keep control,
“In the morning, before I eat breakfast I check my blood sugar. At breakfast I count the carbs of what I’m eating and I input that number into my meter, which calculates the amount of units of insulin needed and provides them to me through my pump. Then at lunch I give myself insulin and go on with my day”.
The pump that Natalia is referring to is a small pod that is worn on one’s body, that checks blood sugar levels through a device, called a Dexcom. A Dexcom is worn on the arm and sends the persons blood sugar levels to their phone through an app; this is to avoid the painful process of pricking fingers. The issue of having to remember her schedule and repeat it everyday in order to keep herself healthy can take a toll on her mental health,
“No one understood what I was going through. I would get scared for the future, knowing that there is no cure. Sometimes, I still get scared. How will this affect me when I’m older? My family? My kids? My career? Despite this, there are many people who are dealing with this condition who lead amazing lives and I know I can do the same”.
Natalia’s experience highlights why it is important to encourage other young people to talk about their feelings and let them know they are not alone. Natalia doesn’t let her condition dictate who she is and how she should live her life in the future. She is currently an ambassador of the juvenile diabetes research foundation; with this position she plans to share her story and educate as many people as possible. She also holds on to the hope that with everyone’s efforts a cure could be found in the near future. Natalia is more than willing to educate anyone who is interested, so don’t be afraid to reach out to her to learn more about her inspiring story!