By Chelsea Collins, Staff Writer
November is nationally know as Diabetes awareness month and for some it isn’t something they normally think about, but there is one student at the University of Maine at Farmigton (UMF), who always has it on her mid.
Abigail Smith, a junior Early Childhood Special Education major here at UMF, found out she had type one diabetes a few short years ago. “I found out when I was a freshman in college, which is a really late diagnosis for juvenile diabetes.” Smith had noticed that she always needed to keep a bottle of water with her because, “At any moment I felt like I could drink all the water on Earth.” She not only was drinking a large amount of water, but had also lost thirty-five pounds in less than a month. These symptoms are both signs of type one diabetes.
Due to her diagnosis, Smith has to take insulin on a regular bases due to the lack of insulin that is produced in her body. “My immune system attacks certain pancreatic cells, beta cells, that produce insulin, which is a hormone that helps move the sugars that I consume around my body to use as energy. Because I don’t produce insulin, that sugar stays in my blood and can cause serious damage if I do not take insulin.”
Smith is constantly aware of what she is consuming in her daily diet. Her diagnosis dictates that she check her blood sugar often. “I need to check my blood sugar at least four times a day, and inject myself with insulin every time I consume anything with carbohydrates in it,” said Smith. Many times Smith gets down about having to often worry about what she is consuming. “It is sometimes discouraging that I have to constantly be worried about a fundamental thing like eating, especially as a college kid who has a lot of other things to worry about.” Smith is hopeful that an insulin pump will make it easier to manage. “I do not have an insulin pump yet, and I think when I get that, I will find it easier to maintain.”
Smith plans on being a teacher in a preschool classroom. She is fully aware of what challenges she will face having type one diabetes as a teacher, but is hopeful for the future. “ I will need to be aware of my sugars at school and make sure I have control over them. I know that I will be able to live a happy and relatively normal life because advancements in the research of diabetes are happening every day. Many people are effected by diabetes, and there is a lot of support for people like me who have it,” said Smith.
Smith encourages students to be proactive in the fight against diabetes. “I f you are experiencing symptoms of type one, go to the doctor! It’s scary to not know if you have this disease. Type two is a different type of diabetes. The right diet and exercise can prevent and reverse type two diabetes, but type one is not preventable or curable.”
Smith wants students to know that diabetes is scary and reminds students that even if someone doesn’t tell you, they could very well still have diabetes. “It is stressful, and it is not something that anyone would know I have unless I tell them. Everyone is fighting their own battles, whether you can tell or not.”