In Podder Talk, we like to share inspirational stories of people who are not only living well with diabetes, but also thriving with it. In a “Thriving with Diabetes” series, we will be showcasing people who have turned their diabetes diagnosis into a strength and form of motivation.
My name is Gabriella Sajedi. I am 12 years old and I am in 7th grade. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just three days after my fifth birthday. I wasn't feeling well for a couple of days and my mom thought I had a virus until she found me asleep on my family room floor. She brought me in to see my pediatrician and he immediately told my mom I had diabetes and that I needed to get to an emergency room as soon as possible.
After being stabilized at our local hospital, I was sent by ambulance to Children's Hospital in Boston where I fought for my life for six days. I was really sick and in diabetic ketoacidosis. My body was shutting down and I remember being really scared. I didn't understand what was happening to me and why everyone was so worried about me. In the hospital, my parents learned how to take care of me, how to give me insulin injections, how to count carbohydrates, how to use emergency glucagon and how to check my blood sugars. They told me this would be forever. I remember thinking, "Wow, forever!” I quickly adjusted to my "new life and my new normal."
Synchronized Swimming with Diabetes
I have been doing synchronized swimming since I was seven years old. I got started with the sport, because my mom was a synchronized swimmer when she was a kid. I like the sport, because I get to be with all my friends and I lose myself in my music. I like the competitions, especially trying out for the 11/12 Age Group National Team. In phase 1 of this competition, I scored 6th in the country for my age group!
Because I have diabetes, I always try to be prepared in case my blood sugar goes too low while I am swimming and competing, which could be very dangerous for me. My mom usually tells the lifeguards about my diabetes. I always have a juice box with me while I am swimming. If my blood sugar is too high while I am competing, I don't do my best because I can't concentrate.
My old teammates and coaches knew about my diabetes, but this year I am swimming for a new team so only my coaches know right now. As I get to know my new teammates I will tell them. They might see my Omnipod insulin pump on my butt and ask what it is or they might see me checking my blood sugars or drinking a juice on deck, so it will be important for them to know. I'm not afraid of telling anyone about my diabetes.
I switched to the Omnipod after being on injections for a year, because it is waterproof.* This was an important factor in deciding which pump to use since I spend so many hours in the pool each week. The Omnipod has made it much easier for me to swim.
Check out Gabriella performing a duet with her partner Ruby at the Synchro National Championships.
Not Letting Diabetes Hold Me Back
My advice for a young person who may be struggling with their diabetes is to never let it affect how you do things - show people how strong you are living with diabetes. You might, as we say in our house, have "diabetes sucks days," but after those days you get right back up and keep doing what you are doing. Also, there is one thing that should never leave your mind, and that is…DREAM BIG!
Click here to get a free Demo of the Omnipod insulin pump and see how it feels to wear one with no obligations.
*The Pod has a waterproof IPX8 rating for up to 25 feet for 60 minutes.