This is Maria and she has Type 1 Diabetes
I met Maria when she came in to the studio to model for me on a completely different project. At one point, when I was posing her, I noticed a patch of sorts and asked her about it. She explained that it checked her blood sugar and then showed me the rest of her gear. I thought it was great that it kept everything in check and asked her if she wanted it left in the pictures or edited out, explaining that it might not show regardless. She was gracious about it and told me that I could edit it out if I didn't want it in the pictures, but that she preferred to leave it in to help normalize not hiding it. I was totally in!
Then she explained that November was Diabetes Awareness Month (the modeling session was in October). She explained that blue was the awareness color and I had an idea! I asked if she would like to take a few pictures to showcase what she had JUST explained to me: that she is not hiding it and that she wants others with the same situation to feel comfortable when they see it, too. So that was what we did.
When I asked Maria if she would be willing to share her story, her answer was a resounding YES!
Maria is the type of person who isn't afraid to be herself. She brings energy into a room and carries herself with confidence. She is vibrant and self-assured and someone who everyone should want to know. I am proud to share her story.
My name is Maria Perez and I’m a Type 1 Diabetic. I was diagnosed at 8 years old. Which means I’m 27 and I’ve been a diabetic for 19 years.
In the grand scheme of things my diagnosis story feels dramatic, but at the end of the day it’s sadly routine for thousands of kids. One day I was feeling super sick after being sick for about a week. I remember drinking almost a gallon of water by noon. My mom took me to the doctor, we were instructed to quickly go to the ER, and I stayed for two weeks. Those two weeks were filled with me coming to terms with my own mortality, having to have the lab check my blood sugar because it was too high for the meters, worrying about school, and wondering how I was going to do everything at home. At 8.
For me my eating habits, food aversions, and reactions to certain foods are normal. My biggest issue with Diabetes has been the way other people view it and react to it. So thanks to Lori I want to share some things.
I currently use a Dexcom CGM and a Tandem TSlim x2 insulin pump. When I first started using diabetes management devices I would try to hide them as much as possible. From: putting my pump site in places that weren’t always comfortable, turning alarm sounds down or completely off, always wearing long sleeves and long pants, and more. I’m finally at the point where I’m not making myself uncomfortable for the comfort of others. It’s okay to take up space. It’s okay to be different. And it’s okay to have a chronic illness.
During a shoot with Lori she asked me if I wanted her to photoshop my devices out and my immediate response was no and to blurt out that November is diabetes awareness month. So that’s why I’m here. Diabetes isn’t a dirty word. It isn’t shameful to be sick. It’s okay to ask for food to be made differently or to remove things in order to be full and okay. My devices are why I’m alive. The days that I’m tired and don’t want to deal with being sick I’m still getting my medicine and I know my blood sugar. I’ve learned to give myself grace, understanding, and to be the adult I wish I had as a child-teen-and young adult. I try to wear my devices in visible places as much as possible. I try to answer questions as quickly as possible. I try to be welcoming to make sure no one has their thought of being shameful reinforced.
Parents, teachers, anyone know the signs of diabetes and when to take your loved one to the doctor for an actual exam.