Interview with YouTube Star Diabetic Danica

Danica, better known by her YouTube username, DiabeticDanica, has had Type 1 diabetes since she was 11.

She started making YouTube videos about diabetes three years ago and now has over 7,000 subscribers. She’s currently in nursing school, working towards becoming a registered nurse so that she can someday become a certified diabetes educator.

We interviewed Danica about her experience with diabetes, what inspired her to start making and sharing videos on YouTube, and how she maintains a positive attitude.

When and how were you diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes?

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was 11 years old, which was 11 years ago. I had lost a lot of weight and was drinking a lot of water, but we didn’t really think anything was wrong. It wasn’t until I was at a concert in our local park that my grandmother noticed what was going on.

I had been playing on the playground most of the time but had been periodically going back to sit with my family and listen to the music. My grandmother thought that I had been going to the restroom an awful lot, so she asked me how many times I got up in the night to use the restroom, and I said, “Hmm I don’t know, maybe seven?” My grandmother knew right away that it was diabetes, since she used to be a nurse, but she didn’t want to scare us. She told us that I should go to the doctor just to check it out.

When we got to what I thought was a routine checkup the next week, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes with a blood sugar of 500. I was sent straight to the hospital.

How were the first few weeks/months after the diagnosis?

The diagnosis was extremely hard on me. I was a little girl who was TERRIFIED of needles. The whole way to the doctor’s appointment, all I was asking my mom over and over again was, “We’re not getting a shot today, right mom? This is just a checkup; I’m not getting a shot?” She reassured me over and over that we were not going there to get a shot, but it was at this appointment that I found out I’d be poking myself with needles for the rest of my life.

My immediate reaction to hearing the words, “You have diabetes,” was denial. I thought, “No, I can’t have diabetes; only old people get diabetes.” My mom and I had no idea what diabetes even was, and we were both scared.

For a long time, I used to cry at every single finger prick and insulin injection. I hated that I had to do all of this now, and I just kept thinking, “Why me?” I didn’t understand why this had to happen to me, why I was different.

It took me over a year to give myself my own shot – after many counseling sessions, rewards systems and encouragement from my family. Once I got past that hurdle, things started to get a little better.

What has been the most challenging thing for you when it comes to living with diabetes?

I’d say the most challenging thing about diabetes is that there are no breaks from it. Diabetes doesn’t go away when you fall asleep, it doesn’t stay home when you go on vacation. If you have a big exam you need to study for, diabetes doesn’t say, “Hey, you know what, I won’t have a low blood sugar for the next eight hours so you can study.” It’s there no matter what, and if you don’t have the right mindset about it, that can really drain you.

Has anything been easier than expected or gotten easier over time?

It has gotten SO much easier over time! Looking back at how I started out, it is hard to even believe how far that I have come! I went from a shy, scared little girl, crying at every finger poke to a strong young woman who actually wants to become a diabetes educator someday to teach kids that they can live long, healthy lives with diabetes. I never would’ve dreamed at this change. I used to absolutely HATE hospitals, and now I want to work in one!

Even just the daily work of diabetes itself (checking blood sugar, giving insulin, etc.) becomes easier with time in the sense that it becomes more routine. My brain automatically jumps to diabetes whenever I have food in front of me or if I’m going to exercise because it’s become a habit now and just another part of my life.

The news of my diagnosis was absolutely devastating to me at the time, but I believe that it has really turned around and become something so amazing. Diabetes has given me a career goal that I am passionate about, countless friends and connections I wouldn’t have otherwise had, and of course my YouTube channel, which has recently been growing into an awesome avenue for me to start teaching others how to live successfully with diabetes, while at the same time providing support for diabetics all over the world. I never would’ve thought I’d have so many people watching my diabetes videos, but I love it!

Click here to read Part II.

Photo: Pixabay

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