Never Giving Up: ABAC’s Charleigh Harper on Diabetes Diagnosis

Photo by Charleigh Harper/Miss Fitzgerald Facebook

At just 18 years old, ABAC student Charleigh Harper was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. This rare scenario created a lot of strife and struggles in Harper’s life. Warning signs persisted, leaving her feeling helpless and unsure of what was occurring in her body.

“I lost around 25 pounds, couldn’t eat, and constantly felt like I was having an anxiety attack,” said Harper.

It wasn’t until a family member in the medical field insisted Harper check her finger. With her sugar at abnormal and urgent levels, she was rushed to the hospital. She was then informed she was about to go into cardiac arrest.

A week in the hospital took Harper down a new path in life, filled with challenges, opportunities, and the newfound ability to find the good in everything.

At the beginning of her journey, her mental state compared to her physical state. “It was liking going through the grieving process,’ Harper said, “I was angry and in denial. This is why my service initiative is ‘Diabetes and Mental Health.'”

This battle in Harper’s life has led her to return to pageantry on a higher level, currently serving as Miss Fitzgerald 2023. She uses her platform to promote awareness and transparency about the trials of being diabetic. Even after a year, she is still learning how to maneuver management and care for her health.

“Being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes affects every single aspect of my life. During school days, pageant days, or days where I have a lot going on, it’s harder for me to regulate my sugar levels because I can’t give my full attention to my Diabetes,” she said.

Despite this, Harper’s support for her health comes in various forms. Dexcom sensors are used to have a constant measure of glucose levels directly under the skin. With a ten-day wear period, the sensors are built to be water-resistant and life-proof to avoid impeding daily activities. However, there is always room for improvement with technology.

She recently began using the new Dexcom G7 to monitor her health. “I have used the Dexcom G6 for the past year and a half, and it has never failed me. But when I hear of this ‘new and improved’ Dexcom, I knew I had to try it,” said Harper.

The new Dexcom models are less than half of the size of Harper’s original G6. The censor now stays flatter against her skin, being less bulky and potentially bothersome on her arm.

Features of the Dexcom G7 rival the G6 in more than just appearance. “The Dexcom G6’S warmup time takes two hours, which could be detrimental for diabetics and their constantly changing sugar levels. The G7 only takes ~20 minutes to warm up which is a huge plus for us diabetics.”

While these advancements may seem small, they are impacting individuals on a profound level. Millions struggle with Diabetes, but technology like Dexcoms and individuals like Harper’s openness about their experiences can boost their quality of life.

If you’re interested in following Charleigh Harper’s journey, you can follow @missfitzgeraldga on Instagram or Facebook.

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