NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - From checking blood sugar levels, counting carbs every time you eat, adjusting insulin levels multiple times a day -- it seems like a lot to do, but for Nacogdoches resident and SFA student Erica Bryant, it's just part of her everyday routine.
"Since I've had it since I was four, it's all I'm ever used to. It's all I've ever known. So for me it doesn't feel different but when I compare myself to other people, I realize I have to do things a little bit differently," said Bryant.
Bryant was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, also known as Juvenile Diabetes at the age of 4, meaning her body produces little to no insulin, which is a hormone needed to allow sugar to enter cells to produce energy.
With more than just one type of diabetes, Type 1 differs from the most common Type 2, which is often linked to an unhealthy lifestyle.
"Type one is an auto-immune disease, so it's not something you can get through only genetics and it's not something you can get just by having an unhealthy lifestyle," said Bryant. "And a lot of type ones have an illness before they were diagnosed."
Every since she was diagnosed, she was limited to certain foods. "Things back then were very different in the 90s, the wanted kids to be more controlled and not have a lot of sugar. I didn't have a pump back then I was on shots. I would take up to ten injections today."
But ever since she received her pump last year, things have been easier.
"If my blood sugar is going low and if I was on shots I wouldn't be able to catch it before it went low. My pump allows me to see it glow before it does really go low," said.
An insulin pump is used to deliver insulin 24 hours a day through a catheter placed under the skin, keeping blood glucose levels in range between meals and overnight.
Although Type 1 diabetes isn't any easy thing to deal with, Bryant doesn't let it define her.
"I can do whatever a non-diabetic can do, I can be a mom, I can be a teacher."
The teacher-to-be says having this type of illness can help her better relate to her students.
"I think having diabetes will help me relate to those students who are dealing with something. I can tell them 'hey it's OK to be different' it's OK to look different, to have something that's different about you, no one has to know about and if you want people to know about it just teach them about it,'" said Bryant.
To learn more about this disease that affects 30 million Americans click here.