Jillian's story



Hi! I’m Jillian and I’m 28 years old. I’m from Long Island, NY and been a type 1 diabetic since I was 8 years old. I was diagnosed in 1997. My brother is a type 1 diabetic as well, and was diagnosed one year before I was diagnosed. He is one year younger than I am. Other than that, we have no family history. It just was a freak thing, a mystery. Rare for a brother and sister to both have type 1, that’s what the doctors told us at least.


Diabetes, back in the 90’s, was still “up and coming”. Even though of course diabetes had been around for years, it was still “new”. I was visiting my father in Michigan when I was diagnosed with type 1. I had extreme thirst, was always lyingaround, didn’t have much energy, and urinated my bed, due to the extreme amounts of fluids I was drinking. I was brought to the dr, where my blood sugar was unreadable, due to how high my glucose was. I was hospitalized for a few days after being taught how to practice giving shots/needles on oranges, yes the fruit.

Being that I was so young, I guess I didn’t understand exactly what was going on, but of course it was a challenge. Now a days, we have all this advanced medicine such as insulin pumps, continue glucose monitors and mixed insulin, however when I was a child, we did not have any of those, so I had to administer multiple shots every day and mix two different insulin’s together. At school, my brother and I were the only diabetics, no one else. So we both felt different and alone in that factor, but we did have each other. We would have to be called out of class to head to the nurses office to test our blood sugars and give insulin. I think though the hardest part as a kid was not being able to really eat sugar. I always had sweats before I was diagnosed, and now, I wasn’t allowed too. Diabetes was so “new” to us at that time; things were eliminated because of the lack of knowledge. We were just told “no sugar, low carbs”. But I was grateful however, that my parents found about a sleep a way “diabetic camp” that my brother and Iboth went too as young kids, where everyone there was just like me, a diabetic. As I got older, diabetes was just kept mostly silent. I wouldn’t want anyone knowing I had to give shots, and then the insulin pump came during my high school years , so now I hid my pump so people wouldn’t ask questions like “what’s that” or “why do you have a beeper still”. College was the real challenge though. I was in denial, didn’t test my sugars often, and didn’t give myself enough insulin and my eyes felt blurry. I felt invincible. All I did was drink and party. My a1c at the highest was 13, which is beyond dangerous, then a little while later I was hospitalized for DKA (diabetic keto acidosis). That’s when I knew I had to get my act together.

As I got into my mid 20’s and began working outand seeing more and more diabetics on social media. I came across so many diabetic accounts and it made me realize there arepeople just like me, facing the same obstacles and others, who were just a real inspirations. I got my life back. I started listening to my doctors, testing my sugars all the time, going regularly to my endo and other specialists, and giving the proper amounts of insulin for my food intake. I began working out and being open to having my pump out in the open and not hiding it on a regular basis. I became heavily involved in the diabetic community; JDRF Long Island Chapter attending walks and local functions as well as the ADA, ride to cure diabetes. I also got involved on the diabetic app “Beyond Type 1” and was featured on their Instagram account for “living beyond type 1 by lifting weights”. Raising awareness and just being around other type one’s made me realize,I was not alone. I had loved what I have seen at these events, and then I began a diabetic Instagram(@t1dchick) with over 7,000 type one followers; asking me questions and advice, and at that moment, I just knew I was a leader, helping diabetics and inspiring them to want to live healthy with living with type one diabetes. After my social media explosion, I wanted to make diabetes visible, so I created trendy diabetic alert bracelets and began selling them, donating a percentage of my sales back to the organization that has been there since I was a kid, JDRF.

Diabetes has taught me so much. With age, I believe comes maturity and I am truly living “beyond” this disease. I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started to embrace my disease and take care of my life. I have been on the Medtronic insulin pump for over 12 years now and just recently became a cgm, Dexcomuser. I am so grateful for this technology, making my everyday life easier. Type 1 is manageable and I can live a long healthy life with the proper care and positive attitude. I want to inspire others to not hide behind diabetes. There are so many people living with type 1 and it’s accepted now. More and more people are coming out and being open about our “invisible” disease. Diabetes is part of who I am. I don’t remember life without having diabetes. I am a warrior, I have type 1.


Jillian Rippolone

Age: 28

Diagnosed: 1997

Insulin pump: MedtonicMinimed

CGM: Dexcom


Instagram: t1dchick

Facecook: www.facebook.com/type1titans

Jake Kaufman