Everybody deserves to take up space in this world to share their life story and experiences. We are so excited to have created a safe space for Lisette Ranga to share hers for the first time. Diagnosed with type one diabetes (T1D) in adulthood, her story is one that is happening to hundreds and thousands of other BIPOC adults today. A story that proves you can find joy in life even when it throws chronic disease your way. We hope you find her words to be as informative, relatable, and uplifting as it was to us. Lisette, thank you for sharing! - The Brown Skin & Insulin Collective
A little about me
My name is Lisette Ranga. I was born in NYC and raised in the Bronx, NY. I am a beautiful mix of Caribbean spices - My mother is Puerto Rican, and my dad is West Indian. I currently live in Westchester, NY, with my husband. I love photography, travel, salsa dancing, and challenging my cooking skills.
I was diagnosed a few weeks after 9/11. I remember driving home from work and feeling the intense need to pee. I thought it was all the water, but it wasn't.
Once I told my mom, she told me to go to the hospital, and the rest is history. My blood sugar was over 800; I met a doctor who took one look at me and said, "Oh, you are Indian, and it makes sense why you are Diabetic." I am not sure what they even meant at the time. I got my exit papers and overwhelming instructions and mourned over the Lisette I had known for 27 years.
Life with diabetes as a minority
Since my diagnosis, I have struggled. I did not see anyone like me, and no one in my family could relate to Type 1. They only knew about Type 2, and very few talked about diabetes or followed the steps to live a healthy lifestyle.
I felt ashamed and desperately wanted to be like everyone else - I wanted to eat the same foods and not draw any attention to the things I could no longer do. I closed my feelings off and kept moving as nothing happened except for these crazy annoying steps I needed to survive.
It was tough to break my eating habits. Both sides of my family have a high-carb diet, and it's a reminder of the days I used to eat whatever I wanted. I grew up with rice and beans, curry chicken, and minimal vegetables. I remember explaining my diet to my doctor, and people would say, "Just don't eat it."
Several doctors did not serve me, but I put up with it because I was afraid to speak up and resent my body for failing me. I remember when my insurance wouldn't cover the pump, and the doctor said they should be ok with driving a pinto. Yes! I had to switch my doctor ASAP!
Over the years, I learned it was not just about the food I could not eat anymore. It was more about finding peace with my new way of life, putting my needs first, and joining a community of people who share the same experience - all exist now.
I would say that navigating as a T1D minority was challenging. I spent most of my time pushing my feelings deep inside and keeping my diagnosis secret, especially in the corporate world. I did not want anyone to treat me differently, and I certainly did not speak up when I needed to get special meals at a work dinner or when someone asked why my shirt was glowing.
What I want you to know
Progress happens on your timeline and in stages. I can say that I still struggle with wearing a pump and feel trapped. Still, I am aware and grateful that I have family, friends, and a community that can inspire me when I see an Instagram post of someone proudly showing their CGM - especially women of color and with curves!
And when it comes to family, some may not understand or say the absolute wrong things to you but know that we are all human. Sometimes it's up to us to show someone a new way and have the self-love to show up and make choices that serve us.
To make it this far, and with a smile, I tried different ways of bringing in my creativity to shine a positive light. I fell in love with this bag because it was cute, and I knew that my lifeline was in it. I started an Instagram account with pictures of the bag in different places, which became a photo book that I hope to inspire others one day. - She is called "Moxylash." She lives life to the fullest and is ready for the next adventure! What's yours?
To be featured DM us on instagram @shialearns!