This Hollywood up-and-comer doesn’t let her diabetes stand in the way of her success.
Auditions. Rehearsals. Dance classes. Evening and afternoon performances. An impressive workload for anyone, but considering that Jessica Stone—also known as J.D. Stone—has type 1 diabetes, that packed schedule alone is worth a star on the petite redhead’s dressing room door.
You may have caught Jessica in one of her guest appearances on the TV series Six Feet Under, 7th Heaven or The United States of Tara. Or you may recognize her voice from the Disney Channel children’s animated series Stanley, for which she voices the title role. Those are just a few of her credits—because she’s been treading the boards since she was a kid, her professional résumé is impressively long. And a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes at age 9 has never gotten in the way of her acting dreams.
How does she manage? “Everything I do now in my life is automatic in managing my diabetes,” Jessica says. Not only has she made healthy habits second nature, she also relies on technological helpers like her insulin pump that allow her to rock an audition at a moment’s notice or work up a sweat at a dance rehearsal. “I’ve come to realize that it’s not okay to take your health lightly,” she says, ever mindful of the consequences of not managing her diabetes. Turn the page for more on how she ensures the condition can’t spoil her red-carpet moments!
Be open to new approaches
For years, Jessica balked at the suggestion of using a pump. “I remember saying I was never going to use one and wanted nothing to do with it,” she admits. “I had gotten used to insulin injections and didn’t want to move away from my comfort zone. I didn’t want to have to learn something new.” Eventually, though, Jessica gave in and—“I fell in love with the pump!” Whatever treatment approach you use today, keep in mind that your health status can change over time. So no matter how comfortable you are now, being willing to consider different treatment options can help you feel better than you’d thought possible.
Know your body’s signals
“I wake up at night if my blood sugar is low,” Jessica says. And if she’s “goofy and unfocused,” it’s another clue her levels have taken a nosedive. It’s helpful to be aware of the signals your body sends when your blood sugar is low or high so you can take steps to correct it right away. How well do you know your body? Try this: Guesstimate your blood sugar reading before you test it—if you are within five points, you are an expert at assessing how you react to food intake, activity, stress and other factors that may affect your blood sugar.
Tip: Keep a can of regular (not diet!) soda on your bedstand. In case you wake up with a severe blood sugar low, you won’t have to stagger to the fridge.
Bring along a survival kit
Because Jessica is always on the go, her “survival kit” goes where she goes. In it: “Glucose tabs, my test kit, extra pump changes, syringes just in case something goes wrong with my pump—I’ve had that happen—and obviously, my insulin.”
Tip: Keep a diabetes survival kit at home, too, in case of inclement weather and power outages. Items you may want to keep on hand include: a week’s worth of diabetes supplies, an insulated pack that keeps insulin cold using water alone (no freezer necessary), unopened glucose tablets, nonperishable foods, a glucagon kit, long-acting insulin and syringes. Ask your diabetes educator for any other recommendations.
Make testing a habit
Right now, Jessica tests her blood sugar eight times a day. “I’m obsessed with testing it,” she says. “I think it’s a lot easier to take care of myself if I know more often what my blood sugar readings are.” Jessica’s hunch is right on: In the landmark Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT), those who checked their blood sugar at least three to four times a day significantly lowered their risk of diabetes-related complications, such as eye, kidney and nerve damage.
Tip: Ease the ouch of testing by pricking the side of your finger near the nail bed rather than the fingertip. It has fewer nerve endings, so it will hurt less.
Fit in your faves
Give up pasta and rice? No way! says Jessica. “Even though pasta and rice are high-carb foods, I feel I need to have a balanced diet, with those included,” says Jessica. She’s also learned how different foods and portions affect her, so all she has to do is eyeball her plate to make sure she’s on track.
Tip: Want a slice of cake for dessert? You can! The key is planning ahead, watching your total carbs and making smart choices. As Jessica shows, just because you have diabetes doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself or put your dreams on hold. For this rising star, it’s a challenge to go for it—with gusto!