Kids with type 1 diabetes are among the estimated 200,000 people young people living with the disease in the United States. Each year, roughly 40,000 people are newly diagnosed with the disease. A diagnosis is challenging, especially for kids with type 1, but many are thriving and living inspirational lives.
Diabetes Self-Management and JDRF have a shared vision: to promote the advancement of type 1 diabetes research by spotlighting the dedicated sugar type 1 diabetes champions from across the U.S. In this series, we asked some young patients about friends, new tech, friends, advice and more.
MJ Economos, 10, Atlanta, Georgia
How old were you when diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and please describe your journey?
On April 10, 2014, I woke up and was not acting like myself. My mom, who is a doctor, was leaving for work like she always had, and I had a complete meltdown. Later that day my nanny noticed that I was fussy, constantly asking for water and going to the bathroom more than normal. She called my mom at work and explained what had been going on that day. My mom came home immediately with a glucose monitor. I was scared and did not want to have my finger pricked. My mom checked my blood sugar with a glucose monitor, and it read “HIGH”. I did not feel good, was confused and scared. My parents rushed me to the hospital, and all I can remember is being stuck with a lot of needles. I told my mom I needed to get out of the hospital so I that could stop getting shots. Little did I know I would be getting shots the rest of my life unless a cure is found.
Fast forward 2 and a half years later: My mom got a call from my grandma to come home immediately because my grandpa was very sick from cancer. A few days later when she returned home, she noticed my brother Ty walking in and out of the bathroom more than usual. She pricked his finger and the monitor read “HIGH”, another type 1 diabetic. We couldn’t believe it. Two days later my grandpa passed away. It was a very difficult time for me and my family.
The very next day my sister Catelin came walking down the stairs late at night. My mom and dad immediately looked at each other and thought “there’s no way”, but in a moment they would learn Catelin has type 1 diabetes too. Now there are three of us to manage 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
What is the hardest part about managing type 1 diabetes? And how do you turn these challenges into positives?
Hardest part of managing my diabetes is always having to count my carbs. I have a lot of my favorite foods’ carbs memorized to make it easier.
How did you become involved with the JDRF?
My family became involved with JDRF the year I was diagnosed.
Any JDRF community service projects or initiatives?
We have a walk team every year, and my dad is on the board. We were the fund a cure speakers at the gala and my parents are doing the JDRF ride in Sonoma this August.
What have you found to be the most useful diabetes technology?
My Dexcom is my favorite because I don’t have to prick my finger.
How do your friends and family support you?
My family and friends learned all about my type 1 diabetes the day I was diagnosed and all help me everyday.
What are some of your favorite activities?
I love football, basketball, and baseball.
What is your favorite diabetes-friendly meal and why?
I love steak, mash potatoes, and corn on the cob.
What advice would you give to someone your age who is newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes?
Stay strong, and take care of yourself.