In honor of American Diabetes Month, CHOC patient Ava Hata sheds insight on living with the disease. Ava, who is 11, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was just 18 months old. She and her mom Rebekah, who founded TIDModsquad, are active advocates for patients and families, with Ava striving to be a positive role model for others.
How did you learn to manage your disease?
I remember the first time I pricked myself. I was about 4 years old, and I hated being dependent on other people to prick my finger. I snuck into my bedroom and did it based on what I had observed my parents doing. After that day, the momentum of learning to do it all by myself really took off. And now, after living with Type 1 diabetes for many years, I have an instinct for what I need to do. And while it may seem absurd at times, my instinct has worked in my favor. I have learned what to do and when to do it.
What do you like about your CHOC team?
I love being treated at CHOC by its endocrinology and diabetes team. The nurses are a pleasure to talk to, and Dr. Reh is the best! She is and always will be my favorite endocrinologist. She’s been taking great care of me since I was little.
What are your hobbies?
I love being around animals. I ride horses and train diabetic alert dogs. I have my self-trained diabetic alert dog, Bruin, who has opened so many doors of opportunity. One cool moment was when I took my dog to see Dr. Bhangoo and got to spend time telling him how Bruin gives alerts on my highs and lows.
In addition to training, I love to show dogs. Other interests include history and literature, as well as building all sorts of objects, from playhouses to terrariums.
How do you manage pursuing all of your interests in spite of living with a chronic condition, and what advice do you have for others?
Honestly, I believe you will always find a way to do what you love. Just keep walking forward, and everything will work out.
What else would you want people to know about living with diabetes?
First of all, people need to understand that it’s not simple and although you think there is a “control” with diabetes, there isn’t — and won’t be until there’s a cure. I’d also really like people to know that I am just like them in the sense that each of us has our differences, including responsibilities. It’s important to accept others and not discriminate against them.
I also want people to know there are numerous support groups, including the one my mom and I founded. It’s nice to connect with others who are going through something similar. You become an instant family!