Alexis Gray is a diabetes life coach overcoming the daily challenges diabetes brings. Diabetics United had the pleasure of connecting with Alexis remotely and she answered our questions with insightful answers. Her shared knowledge of championing life over brittle type 1 diabetes is invaluable. Read on to learn more about the “mindset” and discover how you can join her “Elite” team!
When and how were you diagnosed with diabetes (T1D, T2D, LADA, etc.)?
I was diagnosed at age 5 with brittle type 1 diabetes. As for how this happened, I’m not sure. I was given several different stories. The only thing I do know was that I was very sick and having an episode in public. So my mom rushed me to the ER where, within a few days, I was properly diagnosed.
What kind of medical care did you receive as a newly diagnosed diabetic?
Unlike many diabetics these days, my mom made sure I was properly cared for. I was checked into a pediatric hospital with a huge playroom for a few weeks. I had a fantastic medical team and the nurses were super friendly! They made me want to be a part of healthcare when I got older, simply because since my diagnosis I have not found another care team like them. There aren’t many healthcare workers like that in the field and I want to change that. We definitely need more of them!
How has your experience been with the healthcare system in your home country?
I have not seen the worst of it, but I’m not a big fan. People are charged thousands in the U.S. for a medicine that was discovered and sold to pharmacies for $1. The reason being the person who discovered it, Frederick Banting, said it belonged to the world not him. What’s being done now is criminal. Many diabetics are charged an arm and a leg for health insurance and they still don’t pay for essentials, like proper tools and ER visits. It’s truly shameful. I am glad that the cost caps are being passed in different states for insulin currently. It’s not a fix, but it’s a start! And I’m happy with some progress!
Have there been any professional influencers (a.k.a. DiaGuides®) in your life who have made a memorable impact on how to successfully manage the day-to-day challenges diabetes brings?
I am more self-educated than anything else. I didn’t have a diabetic role model to look up to, as I struggled to care about my condition for the majority of the first half of my journey. When I started going to college, what I learned about how to find my own research articles and how to find answers to my own questions was what really helped me to turn things around. The only people I can say have been a real influence on me is my mom and the diabetic NP specialist who both taught me in school and I interned under, Dr. Nina Russell. They are the true inspirations in my life!
What kinds of medications and products have been life-changers for you?
I’m not a huge fan of extra products. I like to try and do things naturally if I can, but there are a few I stand by wholeheartedly. I like to use self A1C test kits to keep up with how I’m doing in between office visits. I also like to do my own urinalysis testing to make sure my kidneys are ok. I also love the Medtronic 670G pump, as its closed automated system has made my life so much easier. CGMs are amazing, as they allow brittle types like me to see what is going on 24/7 and warn us if action needs to be taken quickly. These are all the things I use without fail as they help me to keep an eye on everything and maintain control!
What are a few tips you’ve found helpful in managing your diabetes?
“What happens on the outside is a reflection of what is happening on the inside.” I am a huge believer that mindset is truly the biggest issue behind diabetes and any problems it causes. People who get diagnosed and have a negative mindset constantly have out of control diabetes while those who do the opposite have long, happy, and healthy lives. The difference is what is going on in our heads…if that’s not right first then no matter what we try we will fail (diabetes or not). It’s just that important! Everything else you do (ex: working out, eating right, don’t give up, etc.) comes only after this is correct first.
What types of things do you do in your career and/or at home which may have direct positive impacts on your lifestyle and wellness?
In addition to keeping my mindset happy and positive, I work out vigorously 3 days a week. 2 days a week are active stretch days with cardio, and the other 2 days are complete rest days. I eat a ton of fruits and veggies each day with no let up as well (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg in personal care). In my career as a coach, it makes me happy to make other people happy. When they finally have that breakthrough that proves to them that they have diabetes and diabetes does not have them, it changes lives. I change lives for a living and I absolutely love it! With all the positivity and growth surrounding me, it’s very hard NOT to be active in keeping myself healthy.
Are there any innovative procedures or research you are aware of showing promise for a cure?
There are many promises out there but that’s been the case for longer than I’ve been alive. I don’t have any hope a cure will be found, even though that could be the case. I have a hope that I can lead a long, happy, and healthy life as well as show others how to do the same. That is my life’s goal!
Do you have a favorite book and website which provide beneficial information others may enjoy?
There are many places you can look for things like this, but the people in charge of healthline.com do a fantastic job of providing short and easily understood articles on different topics of diabetes. They back it up with research and they have diabetes themselves (some of them do). It’s nice to find such great research on a trustworthy site that is not set up like a blog. Very easy to find as well!
Tell us about a community or business you may be involved with and how can Diabetics United members help support your efforts?
My business is called “The Diabetic Elite”. It is a self-created coaching business that I made to help diabetics get rid of their anxiety, pain, and hopelessness. The healthcare field pays this side of diabetes no attention and it is majorly responsible for whether someone makes it or doesn’t most of the time. The mental strains and exhaustion diabetes can cause will stop someone from taking care of themselves or even using valuable information that’s given to them. When this is under control, often so is everything else. It’s my goal in life to help diabetics get their lives back from their diabetes and help them own it, not be in denial about it. They can do it! They just need help, and it’s almost like no one else provides it. I don’t have products that I sell or anything like this, but you can always reach me and talk to me here. I love to support those who need it, so if you need support, please don’t hesitate to reach out. That’s what I’m here for!
What advice and encouragement do you have for fellow T1Ds?
Do not let the word “diabetes” scare you. Believe it or not, we’re healthier than most people without diabetes because when we take care of ourselves, very rarely is someone in as good of shape as we are. It’s a word, a diagnosis, and nothing more. You are still you, a human being with a life to live, and no one can take that from you unless you let them (diabetes included). All it takes is for you to focus on taking one step at a time. The rest comes as you go!