I am honored to have been asked by Michelle Gifford, of 'Beauty Revived' to be an all-star photographer for '50 Beautiful Children' Campaign and Magazine. 'Beauty Revived' is a movement to tell the stories through our lens, as photographers, of real people with real inner beauty. Beauty Revived 50 Beautiful Children Magazine issue contains 124 pages of stories and photographs by artists in the photography industry. Dedicated to celebrating the beauty of women, this special edition issue of Beauty Revived magazine contains stories of strength and triumph of children. To learn more about Beauty Revived’s mission, visit their site at iambeautyrevived.com. There's so much good in the world that needs to be shared and I'm honored to be a part of this mission. I chose to explore Mikayla's story. She's my sweet niece and I knew she represented 'real beauty' with her strength and attitude about a life changing diagnosis she received this past year.
Here's here story:
'Meet Mikayla' - She appears to be a typical, happy-go-lucky, 10 year old girl. She plays with her friends, reads quietly in the corner and giggles often. But there’s something that she’s constantly aware of, something that prevents her from being that carefree little girl every 10 year old deserves to be. Less than a year ago, her life changed in more ways than she could have imagined forcing her to grow up and become responsible in ways that many adults can’t handle. Mikayla is her name and she was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Doesn’t sound too difficult to manage right? We’ve all heard of diabetes, and know that it’s usually controlled with a good diet. That’s only true to Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 has nothing to do with how much sugar a person eats, their weight or age. Type 1 is far more complex as I soon learned.
Each day Mikayla wakes up, pricks her finger with a needle and squeezes a drop of blood onto her Blood Glucose reader to find out how low her blood sugar dropped during the night. It usually drops enough to warrant an early breakfast. But she can’t put anything in her mouth (except water) until she does some calculations. She has to carefully determine what she’s going to eat, count the carbs of her meal and consider her activity for the morning and plug that into a detailed calculation. I had to look at the calculation over and over as she showed me what she thinks the final equation is, she calculated correctly. Based on the number, she measures out the proper amount of insulin and administers a shot in either her abdomen, arm or thigh. She does this all without wincing, or flinching. Sometimes she doesn’t really want some of the food that she included in her calculations but she can’t dismiss it like most of us can. Since she calculated those carbs into her insulin shot, she has to eat them. She’s active in between meals since she calculated the activity she was going to do into her insulin levels. If she doesn’t do the activity she calculated the her blood sugar levels will be elevated which causes long term damage to almost every organ and system in her body. If she’s too active, her blood sugar levels will dip and she’ll become hypoglycemic. This prevents your brain and muscles from functioning properly and dizziness, shortness of breath and trembling occur. She recently had to drop out of her school’s running team because of the dips in her blood sugar from over activity and her glucose dropping too quickly.
Mid morning, she tests her blood sugar again. Her fingers are raw from all of the needle pokes. The results of this test will determine if she needs to have a mid-morning snack to boost her blood sugar. The safe zone is between 130 and 160. This process happens again before lunch, where she plugs in the carbs for lunch. She has to know exactly what she’s going to eat, and not deviate from her plan. Again, she tests her blood sugar in the mid-afternoon, this time to determine if she needs a snack. Dinner, is a repeat of earlier. And finally at bedtime, she test her glucose to see if she needs carbs before bed to sustain her through the night. Her blood sugars typically dip in her sleep so test just before bed is imperative. Mikayla is forever planning, calculating, poking, and injecting herself. This is life for this 10 year old. It’s not carefree, it’s not happy-go-lucky and it’s not super easy. But it is manageable and she’s committed to being a happy, healthy and responsible little girl. She’s young, but she’s strong and she has an amazing attitude. She wants to help others see that she’s not that different, that she can still keep up and enjoy life doing most of the things she loves.
Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that causes your body to destroy the pancreas’ insulin producing cells. There’s no way to replace those cells so Type 1 diabetics are dependent on synthetic insulin to balance their glucose levels. Some day she hopes to get an insulin pump to help manage her blood sugar, but for now, this is a day in the life of Mikayla,