I was born and raised on the beautiful island of Oahu, HI where I learned to surf and attended Honolulu Community College to earn my AAS degree in Fashion Design. In 2008, I received my Bachelor’s of Science degree in Fashion Marketing and Management from [formerly named] California Design College, One of The Art Institutes in Los Angeles. I waited tables from 2002 to 2010 along with some retail jobs to support myself. I soon returned home in 2011 and designed for a local swimwear company, Loco Boutique and Kaimana Beachwear. Unfortunately, the $10 hourly wage wasn’t enough to keep me out of poverty with thousands in college debt. So, I moved onto becoming a Personal Stylist at Nordstrom. During that time, I also launched my own line of handmade dog accessories known as Island Doggie. Little did I know, I’d be putting my small business on hold shortly thereafter.
Later that year, a friend I knew from high school invited me to a BBQ where I met his roommate, this confident and handsome Chinese guy. After only eight months of dating, we were wedded on the east side of Oahu. On October 23, 2014, I gave birth to the most beautiful and strong little girl, Coral. We enjoyed 15 months of a “normal” life before her diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes on March 11, 2016. That horrid weekend has a separate post. I had to quit my full-time job at Nordstrom and became her Pancreas Momager instead. She inspired me to redirect my focus on designing clothing, accessories, and home goods to help spread T1d awareness on zazzle.com/t1dlife. I like to take a messed up situation and use it to motivate me to create something inspirational and be a better person.
As part Native Hawaiian (bloodline – NOT geographical), Native American, Okinawan and Chinese, I strongly advocate for the protection of ku’uhome [my home], anti-racism, #insulin4all, and more when I can. I hope others will do the same. My abusive broken childhood and daily struggles even before Coral’s T1d diagnosis has shaped me into who I am today. Coral became a big sis in March 2019 when I gave birth to Kaila. They’ve become the best of friends which has been amazing to see during this ongoing pandemic. I never had a good relationship with my mother (parents divorced when I was a toddler) and hope to be the best mom ever to my girls. They will grow up knowing how to pick their battles and overcome many obstacles in life. It’s important to give my girls a voice when they’re too young to speak out for themselves in this crazy world we’re living in especially from 2021 moving forward. Your voice matters too. Learn more how you can help advocate for certain causes here.
We Know our Sh*t
My husband was born and raised in rural Shanghai where he and his family basically lived off the land. He has a PhD in Physics from University of Utah and moved to Oahu in 2007. He left his underpaid job as an MRI medical researcher and professor at UH to pursue a new opportunity as an artificial intelligence software engineer. We reluctantly sacrificed our Hawaii lifestyle, my roots, and moved to Los Angeles, CA in 2016 to better afford all of Coral’s lifelong diabetes supplies and insulin. He’s the most respectful, loving, supportive and resilient man I’ve ever known – and a damn good father too! He helps me research and source out credible medical journals that I then, translate and share with others regarding technology and Covid-19. We’ve come a long way from where we started and we plan to go further. We never rely on luck, yet prefer to build our own fortune. In fact, we finally managed to save up and buy our first forever home in March 2021!
I never knew how much strength, courage, and resilience existed in such a little human being until the day I saw her fight for her life. She continues to inspire me every day as we constantly battle highs and some lows (blood glucose levels) while taking on jungle gyms, new foods, road trips, and beyond. She loves music, dancing, drawing, My Little Pony, Octonauts, Hello Kitty, Peppa pig, trains, Legos, and carby foods. She switched from Dexcom G6 continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and an Omnipod insulin pump (see technical review here) to Libre 2 flash GM and has been taking and giving herself multiple daily injections (MDI) for the past several months. Managing her crazy tantrums and diabetes is a 24/7/365 job. It’s a good thing she’s cute. Same goes for Kaila who’s even more sassy than Big Sis sometimes.
Realism Vs. Pessimism
New readers, beware: I am real AF – not to be mistaken for having a negative outlook on life. Taking a realistic approach to managing her disease while balancing ordinary life challenges has truly helped us succeed. A pessimist wouldn’t be able to see a positive outlook no matter what the circumstances are. This is our new “normal” T1dLife/Pandemic Life. Not everything in this T1dLife is pretty and it isn’t always portrayed accurately on social media from “influencer” accounts no matter the amount of followers (usually over 8,000). Those who don’t “get it” are lucky if they never do. Mahalo for reading this far and I hope to inspire, motivate, and educate those who are willing to learn more. Please click the subscribe button to follow our journey on the blog. Also, find us on Instagram @type1diabetic_life or Facebook @typeonediabeticlife or Twitter @t1disabeach for tons of more awareness posts and resources easy to share (or scroll down to the bottom of this website).
Shelsea & Coral
Last updated: 7/14/21