To shine light on the urgent issue of diabetes—to celebrate the victories and remind the public of the burdens that you, our readers, know so well—the American Diabetes Association created A Day in the Life of Diabetes. People responded by sharing images that express the ordinary and extraordinary ways that they live with diabetes. View the mosaic of images at facebook.com/americandiabetesassociation. Here, award-winning photographer Jay Dickman focuses on three stories from Denver of people coping with the disease.
My 2-year-old daughter, Estrella, is getting one of many finger pricks (left) that are part of her daily life. From the moment we wake up, I check her blood glucose levels and continue to do so throughout the day. I’m a single mom, so when Estrella was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes I had to quit my job as a hairstylist and learn how to take care of her health on my own. I struggled financially, but Estrella is my top priority. I figured the only way I could take care of her and work at the same time was to be my own boss and open a salon of my own. I named it Estrella’s Beauty Salon.
Daily life for us means lots of carb counting and injecting insulin every two hours. Before she goes to bed, I need to make sure that her blood glucose levels are above 150 mg/dl and that she has a snack with 15 grams of carbohydrate to last her through the night. I also have to check her blood glucose in the middle of the night just to make sure it doesn’t drop low. I want to stop diabetes because I don’t want people living with this disease to have to depend on taking insulin just to stay alive!
I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes one month before my 29th birthday. My typical day involves work, hanging out with friends and family, and working out. My life is not that different from the life of someone who doesn’t have diabetes, except that I take a pill every day and have to check my blood glucose levels. The threat of the extreme downfalls weighs on my mind, however. Amputation, slow-healing wounds, blindness—these are all things that can happen if you don’t manage the disease. I want to stop diabetes because no one should have to worry about these things on a daily basis.
I have had type 1 diabetes for 34 years. When you live with diabetes, you live it every day—24/7. Despite this being a tough disease, it can also be a blessing in disguise since it forces you to focus on your lifestyle, diet, and exercise. Why do I want to stop diabetes? Because it’s one of America’s and the world’s fastest-growing diseases, with a significant negative impact on the lives of those who have it and their friends and family. I am on a mission to do everything in my power—anything and everything possible—to help knock this disease out for adults and children everywhere! Here, I am wearing my Red Rider jersey, which shows my personal dedication to raising money in the fight to stop diabetes.
Meet the Photographer
Jay Dickman is a Pulitzer Prize–winning photojournalist and National Geographic photographer. Dickman’s brother-in-law died from complications of diabetes, and this personal understanding of the disease truly resonates in his heartfelt images.