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UTSA student and his mom write book to help those living with Type 1 diabetes

UTSA student and his mom write book to help those living with Type 1 diabetes

JUNE 1, 2023 — It is a journey they are doing together. Mother and son duo Michele and Jonathan Segura spent the last two years understanding what a life with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is like and then pushed themselves a little further to understand what it could be.

They are now sharing what they’ve learned in their recently published book “Type 1, Year One”. The book shares their individual experiences since Jonathan’s diagnosis.

Jonathan, a sophomore at UTSA studying business management in the Carlos Alvarez College of Business, was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease his junior year in high school. It was a shocking diagnosis since the then 16-year-old did not have a family history of the disease. T1D is a chronic condition that attacks the insulin-making cells of the pancreas. While it most often develops in children, teens and young adults, anyone can get it. No one knows what causes it or how to prevent it.

“I am very excited about this group. I know there are students with Type 1 diabetes on campus who could benefit from what we’re trying to do here.”

“I was very confused,” Jonathan said. “I didn’t know what diabetes was. I mean I’ve heard of it, but when the doctors told me that it was going to be with me for the rest of my life and currently there isn’t a cure for it, I didn’t know what to expect. I was scared.”

Michele felt the same way. As a mom she wanted to know more about T1D so she could help her son regain his active, healthy lifestyle. So she did her research. Then she did some more.

“In the hospital they gave me an eight-inch stack of pamphlets and information from various sources. I read through all of it before leaving the hospital. Some of the information from places like the American Diabetes Association and Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation didn’t align with each other,” Michele said. “I realized this is something I am going to have to figure out specifically for Jonathan. I researched other sources to include medical books, podcasts, Facebook support pages, and websites.”

“Throughout our journey, I found many people who were either newly diagnosed or had been living with Type 1 diabetes for years who were struggling with their diabetes management, she continued. “They didn’t know how to apply the medical recommendations at a personal level which is the key to living beyond your Type 1 diagnosis.”

Michele and Jonathan took a strategic approach on how to deal with T1D. Within the first six months, mother and son had learned how to maintain Jonathan’s glucose level and keep it in the normal, non-diabetic range. His endocrinologist applauded their efforts and shared their techniques with other patients who then saw their own glucose level improvements. Jonathan’s doctor encouraged them to write a book to help others dealing with T1D, Michele said.

Always an active person, Jonathan was a drumline captain in high school and enjoyed spending time outdoors with friends. He soon realized that most physical activities affected his glucose levels—and not always in the same way. It was something else he had to think about as he headed off to college.

“I soon found out that there was much more to managing diabetes than what I was told. The doctors focused their conversations solely on food and mainly carbs. I think this leads many people to misunderstand T1D as a ‘food/metabolism disease,’” Jonathan states in the book. “Overall, I came to realize that T1D is affected by so much more than food. You have to consider if you slept well enough the night before, have had enough food and water throughout the day, have been active, and have had enough insulin. My life revolves around diabetes every second of the day.”  

Jonathan’s insights and own experiences with T1D encouraged him to start a student support group at UTSA as a way to connect others going through similar experiences and help them navigate college life. The group, called “Type 1 Roadrunners,” was officially formed in April and already has a handful of members.

“I am very excited about this group,” he said. “I know there are students with Type 1 diabetes on campus who could benefit from what we’re trying to do here. For many of us, it is the first time we are managing T1D on our own. It’s targeted for likeminded people to come together, feel supported and to be able to hang out and do normal college life things in a healthy way.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 37.3 million people have diabetes — that’s 11.3% of the U.S. population – and one in five people don’t know they have it. Although Type 1 diabetes is less common than Type 2—which is not an autoimmune disease and often found in older adults with obesity factors—about 5-10% of people with diabetes have Type 1.

Writing the book has been therapeutic for both Jonathan and his mom. She got the peace of mind that while her son is in college, he will be able to take charge of his T1D and be healthy. For Jonathan, it helped him refocus his goals.

Learn more about the Alvarez College of Business.
⇒ Get more information about the Type 1 Roadrunners.

“I started off wanting to be an aerospace engineer. I was in the NASA high school aerospace scholar program when I was diagnosed, but now I want to create my own business to help others better manage their disease through fitness,” said Jonathan, who is earning his personal trainers certification through UTSA and currently working at a local gym.

“Even if the gym is not your thing, you can be active and healthier in other ways,” he continued. “It’s making the decision to take a walk, try a new activity or eat better than the day before. That one decision can change your life and put you on a path to achieving a happier and healthier future. T1D to me has a new meaning in my life. ‘Takes 1 Decision’ is my mantra and the message I want to spread. That even if things don't go your way, it’s the choices you make afterward that define who you are and how beneficial your life will be.” 

Michelle Gaitan

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