Photo: Joseph Fanvu Photography / Courtesy
I have been living with diabetes since I was very young. The truth? I can’t remember my life without diabetes. When I think of birthday parties or family gatherings, I think of all the pricks to check my glucose levels and insulin injections.
Now let’s talk about my life with diabetes between the ages of 14 and 17. Many times I hid in the bathrooms of my school to eat a sweet. I gained a lot of weight… almost thirty pounds in three years! I thought… “Type I diabetes has no cure. It’s forever, period. “
I decided to take charge of my life as soon as I started my college career. I started exercising four or five times a week, created an eating plan, and went to a psychologist two to three times a week. I met other people with diabetes when I was volunteering in camps for children with diabetes. The best of all? Seeing the joy of my parents once we began to see the fruits of all my efforts. I lost all the weight that I had gained or managed to lower my A1c to less than 7! I felt invincible. From that moment I knew that diabetes did not control my life. I have diabetes, but diabetes does not have me.
In 2019, I moved from Puerto Rico to Maryland to begin my Master’s in Interpreting and Translation at the University of Maryland at College Park. Just being alone made me anxious. What if I had a sugar crash and lost consciousness? What if my roommates are bothered by the alarms on my Dexcom? So many questions and few answers… And on top of that, I didn’t know other people with diabetes. I felt very lonely the first few months.
Little by little I was adjusting to my new life. I felt more comfortable showing off my insulin pump and glucose sensor. After all, living with diabetes has taught me that “being different” is not so bad. My friends loved me just the way I am. When I came across strangers on the street and they asked me what was on my arm, I explained, without any shyness, what it was and why I needed it.
One day, I met a Puerto Rican who had lived in Maryland for many years and had recently been diagnosed with diabetes. How good it felt to talk to another Latino and Hispanic with diabetes in Spanish! Then I thought… Where are the other Latinos with diabetes? Why are our voices not heard?
Before graduating this year, I came across dQ&A. Like many of you, I had no idea what dQ & A was. dQ & A is a social enterprise committed to improving the quality of life for all people living with diabetes. I decided to be a part of dQ & A because I knew that my voice, as well as the voices of all Latinos and Hispanics, must be heard. Let’s not forget that Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the United States and that the right to quality health services for many Latinos is impossible simply because they do not speak English.
Why should one’s native language be an impediment to receiving much-needed health care and services? As a Latina, I felt identified with the mission and vision of dQ & A – to include all communities of color.
It is no mystery that the Hispanic community, the black community, the Asian community, and other minorities are pushed aside. Diabetes companies, organizations and alliances need to hear our voices and know what is happening in our communities. This is why participating in diabetes research and studies is so important. We have the opportunity to make them understand that all people living with diabetes, no matter where they are from or what language they speak, should have access to quality health care and services. The day that health care is seen as a necessity and not a luxury will be the day that the quality of life for many people with diabetes will improve.
Participating in dQ & A means joining the voices of thousands and thousands of people with diabetes or family members of people with diabetes who are committed to a single cause – living a healthy, quality life with diabetes. You will not be filling out a survey in vain, you will be filling out a survey that will reach the hands of those who have the power to change our lives.
Add your voice to the voices of all the people who are already participating! Our members are paid every time they fill out a survey. Click here for more information.