Ludny Jean-Alcime discusses how she learned to live with Type 1 diabetes. (Christell Cherenfant)
By CHRISTELL CHERENFANT
Ludny Jean-Alcime, a freshman at York College in Queens, remembers herself as a pudgy child. But that began to change after she discovered she had Type 1 diabetes.
“When I was first diagnosed, I lost a lot of weight so I became anorexic,” said Jean-Alcime, 18, who has been living with Type 1 diabetes for almost nine years. “[Aside from being anorexic,] I would eat and throw up because I was scared to gain weight again.”
There are two main types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. The New York State Department of Health says that just 5 percent of diabetics have Type 1, which is often referred to as juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes. The most common theory for this specific type of diabetes is that a viral infection affects the autoimmune process, usually at a young age. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce an adequate amount of insulin.
It is difficult for pre-teens, adolescents and young adults with Type 1 diabetes to deal with their body’s changes. The term “Diabulimia” is heard frequently. It’s not yet recognized in the medical field but many of those who suffer from Type 1 diabetes know exactly what this word means. When people are diagnosed with Type 1, the disease often becomes tied to an eating disorder, whether it be anorexia or bulimia. These eating disorders affect females more than they do males.
“It’s crazy. I was born with diabetes, as doctors say but I didn’t know until I was 22. I’m 23 now,” said Devonte Wong-Wai, a John Jay College alumnus who discovered that he’d been living majority of his life with Type 1 diabetes. “It changed everything. I didn’t find out from a regular checkup. I had diabetic ketoacidosis, [which almost] led to my death.”
Wong-Wai took this diagnosis seriously and changed his lifestyle. “I had to cut out all sugars that weren’t natural and I can’t even eat certain fruits because of too much sugar,” he said.
Type 1 diabetes can definitely be life altering. For the patient, the only thing that seems to be in control is the amount of insulin that gets injected into the body as well as the amount of food that is eaten. In order for these adolescents to keep from gaining weight, they sometimes skip the necessary insulin injection.
“When people skip their insulin, they lose calories through the loss of glucose in their wastes, mostly through urination,” said Louise Drouillard, a licensed practical nurse at Crown Heights Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation. “I’ve been a nurse for about 10 years and it’s always the same thing with people with Type 1 diabetes. The residents with Type 1, their weight is always fluctuating but of course we keep them under a close eye,” she said.