Actor Gavin Lewis opens up about his diabetes diagnosis and how it did (and didn’t) change his life.
Gavin Lewis, the actor best known for his role in “Little Fires Everywhere,” found out he had diabetes when he was six years old. “As per the usual signs, I was excessively drinking water, using the bathroom constantly, and getting more emotional about everyday things,” he said. “I would cry when my mom left for work in the morning which was very out character for me. My family recognized something was wrong, and luckily my mom knew the symptoms of type 1 diabetes. I was scheduled to see a doctor right away. Sure enough, when they tested my blood sugar, I was at an absurd 1,000.”
Lewis, who starred in the Netflix series “Prince of Peoria,” made some immediate lifestyle changes after his diagnosis. “The biggest involved the sleep schedule and eating changes,” Lewis says. “I was diagnosed before continuous glucose monitors were readily available, so my mom kept incredibly close watch on my numbers throughout the night. And, while I didn’t eat a whole lot differently, remembering to take a shot and pre-bolus when needed before every meal was frustrating at first. The hardest parts were probably worrying about watching my numbers when I was trying to have fun with friends and dosing before every meal,” he says.
No drastic changes
Many believe that a diabetes diagnosis means drastic changes to your life, but Lewis was happy to discover that he could still do a lot of the things he loved, and he now uses his platform to inform newly diagnosed people that they can still live their lives. “The most important thing, in my opinion, is to let them know that nothing major will change,” he says. “They can still eat almost anything they’d like, see friends, drive, play sports, and practically anything else a non-diabetic can do.”
The key to keeping your diabetes well managed is to make a clear plan and schedule and maintain it, Lewis explains. “I manage my levels and medication by being consistent and aware. Once I was able to get site changes down to a schedule and learn to regularly check my number on the Dexcom app, everything got easier. That, and careful carb counting along with thinking ahead if I was planning to exercise after I ate or any other special circumstances.”
You’re not alone
For parents of children with diabetes, Lewis recommends informing your kids as much as possible to demystify the processes and routines. “Diabetes can be scary when you know nothing about it,” he says, “so it also may be helpful to make sure the child understands what’s going on in their body. There are many resources that help explain this even to the youngest of kids.” Lewis’s parents made sure that he was informed every step of the way on his journey. “Something that helped me with the transition was watching a few of my family members take saline shots themselves to show me it wasn’t so bad,” he says.
The most important thing to remember, Lewis says, is that people living with diabetes should still feel like they can live their lives to the fullest. “While T1D can sometimes feel suffocating, ultimately, you’re the one in charge of the disease — not the other way around. If it ever seems like it’s getting overwhelming, don’t be afraid to talk to a family member or friend and ask for help. Always remember there are thousands more out there just like you, as well as diabetic communities all over the world.”