Your Health

Mountain View teen won't let diabetes sink her fun

Courtesy of the Sorenson Family
Cipriana Sorenson, right, with brother Kai and parents Holt and Beth, maintains an active lifestyle despite her Type 1 diabetes diagnosis.

Studies show that approximately 1.25 million Americans are living with Type 1 diabetes, and Mountain View resident Cipriana Sorenson is among them. The teen was diagnosed four years ago – just as she and younger brother Kai were training for their scuba diving certification.

Their mom, Beth Sorenson, wondered if Cipriana would able to continue scuba diving. Her doctor told them she could do that and everything else she had done before her diagnosis.

“We just have to plan more,” Beth said, “be more deliberate.”

That planning includes bringing insulin, syringes and sugar – also necessary for managing diabetes – for Cipriana, a junior at Mountain View High School.

“It’s a balancing act,” said dad Holt Sorenson, who compared eating sugar to manage diabetes with taking medicine when sick.

When Cipriana found out at age 12 that she was diabetic, she didn’t know the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease in which the body stops making insulin, the hormone used to convert sugar into energy. To remain healthy, people with Type 1 diabetes must take insulin through multiple daily injections or with an insulin pump.

There is no clear cause or any cure for Type 1 diabetes. Scientists know the causes of Type 2 – they include genetics and obesity – and it can be managed with oral medication, diet and exercise. Approximately 28 million Americans have Type 2, according to the American Diabetes Association.

The insulin given to people with Type I diabetes converts sugar into energy, thus taking sugar out of the bloodstream and moving it to the cells. When diabetics take too much insulin, they do not have enough sugar left in the bloodstream and must eat sugary foods to avoid passing out or, in extreme cases, having a seizure.

There are some people who don’t realize how important consuming sugar can be for diabetics.Kai said some of them “assume too much” when they see Cipriana eating it. When people spot his sister eating candy to treat low blood sugar, he said it’s frustrating to hear them say things like, “I wish I had diabetes so I could eat sugar all the time.”

When the Sorensons moved to Switzerland for a year when Cipriana was in eighth grade, she said people reacted differently upon learning she had diabetes. Cipriana described their reactions as “chill” and “relaxed.” Overall, “people didn’t see it as an issue,” she said.

In the U.S., however, she noted that “people assume it’s this great big horrible thing that’s taken over my life.”

Cipriana added that living with diabetes is not as bad as many believe it to be.

“My life doesn’t revolve around diabetes,” she said.

Soon after diagnosis, Cipriana earned her Junior Open Water certification for scuba diving and now has her Advanced Open Water certificate, too. She also trains in Krav Maga, a self-defense/martial-arts technique.

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