Mirna “Minnie” Ortiz is a lot like most 16-year-olds. She likes hanging out with her friends, watching television and has dreams for her future. Unlike other teens her age, Minnie is the only person she knows that has Type 2 diabetes. Minnie recently shared her story with PBS in an online video series. Here is Minnie’s introductory video in the series, and below she shares her story about being diagnosed with Type 2 and how it’s changed her life.
I was getting really sick towards the end of August 2005. I was throwing up, really thirsty all of the time and felt like I could sleep all day. I was constantly asking for sugary drinks and foods. That’s what my mom would give me. She had no idea at the time that I had diabetes.
On my first day of 6th grade, I was sitting on the couch at home and then out of nowhere I fell into a diabetic coma. My family took me to the hospital and the doctors told my mom I had ketones and that my sugar level was 1,200, which is incredibly high and potentially dangerous.
I was in a diabetic coma for week. I was fed through IVs because I wasn’t allowed to eat. When I finally woke up, I was really disoriented because I didn’t remember anything that had happened to me. I thought, Why am I in the hospital?
The doctors told me that I have diabetes. Before that moment, I had never even heard the word diabetes before. I had no idea what it was. While the doctors were explaining it to me, all I heard was that there would be needles and a lot of tests. I was going to have to stay in the hospital longer for them to figure everything out. I was only 12 at the time and didn’t really understand it all.
My life has changed a lot since then. I never had to worry about my blood sugar. Now I take medicine twice a day to help control it and I have to keep track of my sugar levels in a log book three times a day.
The doctors talked to me about my diet and said I couldn’t eat candy anymore. I used to love candy. Twizzlers were my favorite. But sugar is bad for me now, so I don’t eat them anymore, except maybe on Halloween. I’ll eat one Twizzler. I used to drink a lot of Pepsi and Sierra Mist, but now if I drink soda it has to be diet. I mostly drink juice or flavored water like Crystal Light. I used to not pay attention to what I ate, but I have to be responsible for myself now.
I was also told that I had to lose weight. If I didn’t, my diabetes would get worse. I hate to exercise, but know that it’s important that I do. I get most of my exercise in gym class and I actually like to play basketball and walk around the track. I have lost some weight thanks to exercise and a change in my diet. I eat smaller portions, three meals a day and always have fruits and vegetables.
Life with Type 2 can be hard, especially since I don’t know anyone else my age who has it. So, I just write in my journal when I need to vent. It’s been really helpful.
My family is the real reason I have survived this. They motivate me, and if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t feel pushed to control my diabetes. They’ve even started eating healthier too.
I want other kids with Type 2 to know that they’re not alone. That’s why I did the project with PBS. I know how it feels when you first find out you have diabetes. You feel shut out and really confused. I hope that when people see my video diaries they see someone they can look up to. I want other kids with diabetes to be more open about expressing themselves and to not get stressed out about it. I just don’t want anyone to feel like they’re alone.
Here’s another interesting story about how diabetic kids may focus too much on carb counting.
Are you dealing with diabetes in your home? What’s the hardest part about it? What have you learned about yourself as a result?