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Meet Sabella - TOT Team!

Hi, I’m Sabella!

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when I was 11 years old, back in 2002. I’m celebrating my 20th diaversary this month and phew, what a journey it has been! Like many, I’ve endured a lot of hardship living with T1D: a tough family dynamic, affordability & accessibility issues, lack of community, lack of knowledge, lack of resources. The list goes on. Sound familiar?

Although my story is filled with challenges one after another, it is also defined by success. It took me a long time, but I’ve learned how to live my favorite life with type 1 diabetes and I’m passionate about helping others do the same.

As people affected by T1D, we all face the same question: Do I have what it takes to make it through this? To keep going? To eventually thrive?

I did. Still do, and so do you. We can do it together - TypeOneTogether 💙

Before (& after) diabetes, I was a fiery spirit on a mission to explore and save the world. I was a bit of a perfectionist, an explorer, loved being in control, and was frequently in competition with myself. Above all, I was big energy driven.

Diagnosed as a preteen, I grew up way too fast taking my survival into my own hands…literally. I didn’t let my parents or anyone help me. I did it all alone. For about 15 years, I didn’t even know another T1D.

Growing up, I had dreams of becoming a doctor or a nurse. I've always been very passionate about health & wellness, before and after diabetes came into my life. I was on the healthcare professional path for a long time - earning my CNA credential & volunteering in the emergency department at UCSD hospital, while also working full-time for jobs that could provide me with the most affordable healthcare coverage. Some background info: My dad lost his job in 2007. The stock market crashed in 08. I graduated high school in 09 & as a person with a pre-existing condition, I wasn’t able to purchase health insurance before the Affordable Care Act passed in 2012.

My college years were lengthy & spent burning the candle at both ends. My goals of becoming a healthcare professional were especially challenging as I struggled financially to make ends meet as a young T1D adult. My time & energy were tied to the jobs that could provide me with the most affordable healthcare coverage, even after the ACA passed in 2012.

These times were hard. I ended up not being able to set myself up to continue to pursue a career as a doctor or nurse like I had pictured for myself, but I still gained a strong foundational knowledge of the human body that allowed me to better understand optimal health & blood sugar management from a western anatomical & physiological perspective, the same perspective of a healthcare professional.

Although this time of my life was especially challenging, I also experienced a decent amount of success in my professional life & I still managed to graduate with honors from ASU with a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Leadership. This still wasn’t enough to be able to escape the obstacles of affordability and accessibility when it came to my own diabetes management.

I’ve always said my will to survive is strong, but my will to live is even stronger. So I did whatever it took to make that happen. I’ve had to ration my insulin and travel to Mexico to get affordable medication. I even married as part of the process to afford to work for Dexcom, just so that I could start using a Dexcom. During the time spent working for Dexcom, I gained invaluable knowledge + experience in the health insurance + diabetes medical device industry. I also began to make connections with other T1Ds in the community. This was the beginning of a new era for me. My life completely changed once I was able to manage my blood sugar with CGM technology & begin to connect with other people affected by T1D.

I worked for Dexcom for about 2 years, until I knew that was no longer where I needed to be. Although my blood sugar management was pretty spectacular given my circumstances, my overall health & wellness was not optimal. There’s more to living your favorite life with T1D than just managing the number. The effects of chronic stress & loads of unresolved emotional energy from my childhood were not only taking a toll on my mind, but also on my body.

I began to explore my personal health + wellness from an eastern perspective using a holistic + energetic approach, with yoga as the foundation for exploration.

I nurtured the mind-body-soul connection through my diet & gut health, emotional regulation strategies learned in therapy, coaching, community, and other practices like yoga, meditation, and breathing.

It didn't take long before I began to experience large, positive shifts in every dimension of my health + wellbeing, including blood sugar management. Combining what I had learned in my pursuit to be a healthcare professional with this newfound knowledge, I began to start living my favorite life with T1D.

I mentioned my will to survive is strong, and my will to live is even stronger, but I didn’t ever anticipate for my overall health & happiness to improve as much as it did. I didn’t think that life could get any better until I met my diabestie - a 6 yro old T1D kid with energy that’s out of this world! We’ve spent the last 2-3 years together (through a pandemic) building a special kind of friendship. I teach him & he teaches me. This experience has given me the opportunity to understand life with T1D from the perspective of a caregiver.

The saying goes that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, when that child is diagnosed with T1D, the village becomes a lot smaller, the effort a lot more, and the question: “Do I have what it takes to make it through this?” echoes a lot louder.

When I first decided to nanny, it was because I felt very confident in being able to manage my own blood sugar levels, enough to do it for T1D kids.

I was strongly connected to my desire to work with people regarding health + wellness, but my perspective was limited when it came to the “how.” I believed that becoming a healthcare professional was the “how,” until one day, my diabestie asked me why I wanted to become a nurse. When I told him that I wanted to help people live with type 1 diabetes, he said, “Bella, you’re already doing that.”

That’s when I realized, I was already living my calling. I have the unique experience of being able to truly understand both the child living with T1D and the caregiver to a person living with T1D. When I met Raquel, I found someone that not only shares in this experience, but also the desire + calling to help other families raise children living with type 1 diabetes.

So here we are, at the beginning of our journey together, to move forward with our mission to grow the village that Raquel has created, TypeOneTogether…so that when the question “Do I have what it takes to make it through this?,” begins to surface in the families affected by T1D, there is a village to support that family in not only making it through, but also in living their favorite lives with type 1 diabetes.

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