Living with Diabetes

Bismarck - Over 29 million Americans are currently living with diabetes, according to the CDC.
It's national diabetes awareness month, and Emily Medalen has the story of one young woman right here in our community who is a strong advocate for those living with it.

At just 12 years old, Tricia Johnson received news that changed her life. 

"I was diagnosed with type 1, I was in severe, severe pain.. I had to grow up fast," says Tricia Johnson, Type 1 Diabetic.
"Type 1 is less common - about 10% of all the diabetes we see is type 1," says Donna Amundson, Director of Diabetes Center.

Amundson says type 1 diabetes is caused by an autoimmune process -
meaning the body destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce the hormone insulin. "It will cause chronic, very dibilitating complications if it's not treated," she says.

Johnson says changing her lifestyle to accommodate the disease was - and still is - a big challenge."You've gotta count all your carbohydrates, and you've gotta make sure you're not drinking regular soda, not eating regular candy, you're not eating too many carbs..."

She says working 2 jobs and going to school makes for a crazy schedule -
but her health can't be put on the backburner.

"As an adult, there's more stress in my life, and so with the diabetes that's an extra stress, and so that get's frustrating at times... mentally and emotionally. It's a tedius job, and it's forever," says Johnson. 
But, there are a couple of things that make it easier for her to bear.

"Definitely the light of everything was camp," says Johnson.

Camp Sioux is for children living with diabetes in North Dakota -
She's been a part of it since she was diagnosed 11 years ago, and it's where she met her best friend.

"She's always been the one that's uplifted me," says Johnson.
"She gets it. She lives it day in and day out like me. If I could give any advice to parents with kids with diabetes, it would be to send them to camp," says Trisha Twite, Johnson's friend.

Another thing that keeps Johnson hopeful is the progression of insulin pumps.

"The technology of diabetes now is so much better, and so much more advanced. They consider this almost an artificial pancreas," says Johnson.

With most pumps, you have to pull them out and type in how much insulin you need.

"Now, it's getting so advanced that it's going to do it for you. If my blood sugar is randomly raising, when that sensor senses to this, it'll give me insulin right away," says Johnson.

Johnson has a message for diabetics struggling to find a balance.

"You should never put your life on hold completely just for your diabetes. Don't let it stop you."

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