Managing Type 1 Diabetes for a Lifetime: Karl Belarmino Shares His Story

    Managing Type 1 Diabetes for a Lifetime: Karl Belarmino Shares His Story

    Once known as “juvenile diabetes, Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic condition that is most prevalent in younger age groups. While Type 2 Diabetes is considered a lifestyle condition, comprising 90% of most cases, Type 1 Diabetes is an autoimmune disease. While the condition entails lifelong treatment, living with type 1 diabetes is possible and manageable.

    When a person is Type 1 Diabetic, it means that their pancreas does not produce enough or any insulin. And when there isn’t enough insulin to regulate the glucose absorbed from food, the glucose accumulates in the bloodstream instead of being absorbed by cells.

    Living with type 1 diabetes can be challenging since this condition requires lifelong treatment, starting at early ages. And without proper treatment like insulin shots, it can result in complications like diabetic ketoacidosis.

    Being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, Karl Nonnel P. Belarmino, a 25-year-old multimedia content creator, shares how he’s been able to successfully manage his condition and live a happy and healthy life.

    living with type 1 diabetes

    When did you first learn about your condition?

    I first learned about my diabetes when I was 16 years old in 2011. I was brought to the ICU at midnight and stayed in the hospital for 3 days and 2 nights. At that time, my sugar was over 600 mg/dL (when the normal blood sugar levels for someone my age is less than 140 mg/dL).

    I lost consciousness for an hour and was diagnosed with diabetic ketoacidosis. The doctor told me that I was incredibly lucky and this could be considered my “second chance.” If I hadn’t been rushed to the hospital that night or had waited until the next day, I would not have made it.

    What are the recurring symptoms you experience due to Type 1 Diabetes?

    Living with type 1 diabetes means experiencing and watching out for symptoms constantly. The recurring symptoms of my diabetes include:

    • The need to frequently urinate
    • Feeling thirsty often
    • Craving for sugary food
    • Suffering from cramps
    • Blurring of eyesight
    • Loss of weight

    Do you use any devices or apparatuses to help you manage your condition?

    I don’t take any oral medications. However, I do take insulin and use a digital glucose sensor.

    Since being diagnosed, how has this affected your life?

    As a 16-year-old, it was hard adjusting to all the things that I now had to monitor like my diet, my physical activity, and blood sugar. Then I moved to Manila for college and lived in a dormitory. I needed to inform my roommates on how to do first aid if ever I would faint due to low blood sugar. I also shared with them how to check for my blood sugar, who to contact in my family, and what hospital and doctor they needed to send me to case of emergency.

    Can you give us a glimpse into your daily routine?

    As I currently work from home due to the pandemic, my typical workday starts at 10 am and ends at 7 pm.

    10 am: I wake up and drink 1 big mug of water. Then I also drink hot water with apple cider vinegar and cinnamon.

    11 am: I inject insulin and wait for 15 minutes before I have my breakfast.

    Breakfast: ½ cup of rice, ½ cup of viand, and 1 cup of vegetables

    2 pm: I grab a snack.

    Snack: ½ cup oatmeal with 1 spoon chia seeds, 1 spoon flax seeds, ½ cup of almond milk (unsweetened), 1 banana

    4 pm: I inject another dose of insulin and wait for 15 minutes before I eat my lunch.

    Lunch: ½ cup of rice, ½ cup of viand, and 1 cup of vegetables

    5 pm: 1-hour work out. I usually do yoga or weight exercises.

    6 pm: Snack time.

    Snack: ½ cup oatmeal with 1 spoon chia seeds, 1 spoon flax seeds, ½ cup of almond milk (unsweetened), 1 banana

    9 pm: I take insulin and wait for 15 minutes before I have dinner.

    Dinner: ½ cup of rice, ½ cup of viand, and 1 cup of vegetables

    I usually check my blood sugar before meals and 2 hours after meals.

    living with type 1 diabetes

    What adjustments have you made to your diet and lifestyle?

    I have been more active in doing yoga and weight training. And I’ve also started to eat food that is low in sugar, as well as fiber-rich foods like vegetables, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds.

    What are things that you can and cannot do?

    I can do everything, but I just need to stay away from physical activity that might wound me. For example, if I’m on a beach trip, I need to wear sandals or water shoes when I go swimming or walking on the sand. As one of the effects of diabetes, wounds heal much slower and can lead to serious complications.

    living with type 1 diabetes

    What tips can you give to people who are living with or who have children with Type 1 Diabetes?

    • Be active and try to work out every day. A 20-minute workout is good.
    • Eat healthy food, especially greens and fiber-rich ones. Note: If gutom ka pa, damihan mo yung gulay, hwag yung kanin.
    • Always monitor your blood sugar using a glucometer.
    • Commit to regular check-ups with your doctor, at least once a month.
    • Save up for your future as your expenses for medication can become substantial.

    How can family and friends help someone who has this condition?

    Family and friends have been incredibly supportive, and its good to share with them how your feeling, especially when it’s related to the disease.

    However, to be honest, I do sometimes feel depressed and have needed help with my mental health. Since I have to inject insulin several times a day, you’re always in pain. But I choose to power through because I’m alive and safe.

    Words of encouragement for those who are experiencing difficulty in managing their condition.

    If you’re losing hope, just pray to God! Madaming tao pa rin yung handang tumulong at nag-aalala sayo. Your love for life and your dreams are bigger than your sickness. Laban lang araw araw!

    Note: The experience of every patient varies. It’s still best to consult a doctor for the best treatment and preventive measures for your medical condition.

    Learn more about Type 1 Diabetes here.

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


    Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao · Updated Dec 18, 2022