Daniel Sallos may be only 17 years old but he’s already wise beyond his years. As a well-spoken, mature young man he’s quite practical about his life and its challenges in living with diabetes. With or without diabetes, there are many changes which impact a teenager’s life. For those young people impacted by the disease, they quickly understand the implications that it has on their lives. “Other kids can eat whatever they want but for me, I know that I have responsibility to take care of myself. I have to watch what I eat,” he said.
Daniel comes from a very loving and supportive family. His formative years were wonderful and life was good. When he was 8 years old, his family decided to take a trip to Disneyland and it was there, in the happiest place on earth, that it was confirmed. “It was discovered that I had diabetes. My granddad has Type II diabetes but as far as I’m aware, no one else in my family has it.”
The signs were probably all there before the holiday, but the dots just weren’t totally connected. “I had become quite skinny and you could actually see some of my ribs. I wasn’t hungry at all. In fact, I couldn’t even finish a meal and I had a lack of energy overall. When we got to Disneyland, I was so incredibly thirsty. After every ride, I just had to go to the bathroom but I didn’t really think much about it because I knew that I was drinking so much. It really was amazing that I never collapsed,” he explained. By the time that they got home, his parents took him to the doctor and their physician instructed them to take him to the hospital immediately. “There I was the hospital waiting room, eating my Disneyland candy,” he laughed.
The tests came back positive and it was definitively affirmed that Daniel had Type I diabetes. “This diagnosis changed my whole life. It was an extra level of care that I had to take and while others can eat whatever they want, I now have responsibility. I’ve had diabetes for 9 years so I’ve lived with it longer than I’ve lived without it and it’s become part of my life. I’m used to it and it’s now just more of a nuisance. I try to stay positive about it and I realize that advances are getting better and better. The way I look at it is that I am living with it until there’s a cure. I believe that in my lifetime, they will find a cure.”
Although Daniel lives with diabetes each and every day, the disease doesn’t define who he is or what he does. While he must watch his diet, administer his insulin and take care to balance rest with activity, the grade 12, St. John Brebeuf High School student, is your typical teen that enjoys friends, video games and his music. “I’ve been raised to appreciate all kinds of music. When my brother, sisters and I needed to chill, my parents used to play Mozart. This would actually do the trick; it was rather calming,” he laughed.
Daniel and his three siblings can all play basic piano and it was an unwritten rule that all four children take band in their first year of high school. “We were always told that if we didn’t like it after that, we didn’t have to continue with it. While we all play basic piano, my older sister is the only one who took off with it. She can also play clarinet and guitar. My older brother plays trombone and my younger sister plays the clarinet and guitar. I play the trumpet and the ukulele,” he said.
They all come by their musical talent naturally given that their mother is an elementary school teacher who taught music at St. Mary’s School for years and their father is the keyboard player for classic rock band, Head Over Heels.
Daniel is enthusiastically looking forward to his final year of high school all the while thinking about his future. His father is a counsellor at GW Graham and Daniel is planning on following in his father’s footsteps. “I hope to work as a counsellor but I’m thinking along the lines of becoming a diabetic counsellor. I’ve experienced first hand what diabetes is all about and how it can impact your life so this would help me in my career and it would also benefit those that I would be dealing with.”