FRIDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- Jet Landis was only 4 years
old when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1992. Even
though she was so young, she can still recall the extreme thirst
she felt because of diabetes.
Landis was lucky, though, because her mother was a nurse and
recognized the signs of type 1 diabetes before her condition became
life-threatening. Still, the diagnosis was a difficult one because
it meant that, while still a preschooler, Landis had to begin
taking daily insulin injections to replace the insulin her body was
no longer making.
Multiple daily injections of insulin remain part of Landis's
routine. Now in her early 20s, she manages her diabetes with the
help of a continuous glucose monitor to measure blood glucose
levels. The device, which is inserted under her skin, has to be
changed about once a week. She also has to poke her fingers to do a
standard blood sugar test to make sure the device is still
providing accurate readings.
"I like to describe diabetes as a constant balancing act," said Landis, who lives in New York City. "Sugar and insulin are polar opposites, and if you add one, you must add the other. If too much insulin is taken, the blood sugar will drop and needs to be replenished by eating sugar."
She explained that "sugar represents any foods with
carbohydrates." Pasta, potatoes, and even broccoli can cause blood
sugar levels to rise, so their consumption needs to be balanced
with just the right amount of insulin.
When Landis was 12, her endocrinologist told her that she also
had hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid. The condition was
discovered during a routine blood test.
Being diagnosed with hypothyroidism didn't seem like a big deal,
Landis said, because she just had to take a pill to manage the
"It was much easier for me when I found out that I had hypothyroidism," she said. "It seemed like a walk in the park to take a pill every day in comparison to the constant nagging that type 1 diabetes causes on my day."
To others in a similar position, Landis's advice is to "hang in
"Take the best care of yourself that you possibly can because the tools that we have been provided allow people with type 1 and thyroid disease to live long and healthy lives with zero complications," she said.
And though it can be difficult to live with not one but two
chronic conditions, Landis said she doesn't resent having them. She
believes it made her more responsible at a younger age, she said,
and she's thankful for being part of the community of people who
live with chronic conditions.
"It's taught me not to sweat the small stuff," she said.
A companion article looks at the frequency of
thyroid diseaseamong people with diabetes.
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