Impacted by a recent natural disaster? We have resources to help. | Learn more

Sharing My Story: Shawn

August 05, 2020

Sharing My Story: Shawn

Shawn Dyjak

Shawn from Los Angeles, California, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) when he was 14 years old. This is his story:

I was diagnosed when I was 14 and I remember how the doctors tried to play it off like it was nothing; the biggest lie ever.

"Just some shots, he'll live a normal life" coming from someone that never had to take "just some shots". Literally my first night home I had to drink 3 juice boxes because of "just some shots" that I did wrong.
 

Still, I took it in stride. In those days it was easy to not see what was going on because continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) weren't a thing.

But I did well. My A1Cs were "good"—never above 8 if I remember right. Juice boxes were always around just in case. Always ready.

When I was 21 I passed out while driving. Luckily I was only going 5 miles per hour and just rolled off the road, but my blood glucose was 23 mg/dl. A friend picked me up and took me home. The car was near totaled, but at least I didn't need the hospital. That's when I actually started to think about nutrition. In those days peanut butter and jelly, pizza hut from work, and junk were staples for a college kid and maybe not the best choice. And that's when I realized how little the doctors ever told me about food, about how insulin works, duration of insulin action (DIA) and action curves—what normal really is.

I did a lot better from my own learnings, my own experiments. Then in 2015 I found GRIT, Dr. Bernstein, home. All based on a simple question: what is normal? If a nondiabetic person has it why not me? So I went in, low carb. Nobody in the medial world approved. It was "dangerous." "You're T1, you can't expect to have normal glucose."

A 5.0 A1C comes in and Dexcom shows minimal lows but still it's too scary for them.

Shawn glucose graph
Courtesy of Shawn Dyjak

Here is my last 90 days. 90 days of no stress, 90 days without cloudy thoughts, 90 days without fatigue, 90 days not worrying about food, 90 days without juice boxes. 90 days normal. No pumps, no crazy algorithms, no rapid blood glucose swings—just a normal life. A decade of not being told this was an option and still pushback.

Learn about ADA's recommendations on food & nutrition


Do you have a story to tell about your experience with diabetes? Share it with us here.