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Exclusive: Alexandra Park Feels Like She Has a 'New Lease on Life' After Coming to Terms With Her Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis

Mar. 25 2024, Published 4:15 p.m. ET

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When Alexandra Park was 23 years old, she was living in Sydney, Australia, and felt "really run down" but didn't know what was going on.

"You never assume anything is really wrong with you when you're under the weather, right? I sort of cracked on with it. I was working as a guest star on this Australian soap opera at the time and also working at a clothing shop to save money to move to L.A. I went to see a general practitioner to relay the symptoms I was having — I was tired and eating excessively, losing weight and drinking enormous amounts of water and just having mood swings and the whole thing," the actress, 34, who is partnering with Medtronic Diabetes to shed light on the mental health impacts so many type 1 diabetics deal with silently, and to help others learn more about advanced technologies that can help make life with diabetes easier, exclusively tells Morning Honey.

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Source: @alexandrapark/instagram

Alexandra Park wrote about her diabetes diagnosis in 'Sugar High.'

After seeing two doctors, she was turned away and told she was just run down and she'd be fine. However, the symptoms got worse and her eyesight started to go. "I was struggling to read street signs and my skin broke out in painful acne. I was basically falling apart," she recalls. "I then went to see a family doctor, and she knew right away what was going on. I was diagnosed with an extremely high A1C number — they hadn't seen it in a patient that hadn't yet been hospitalized. It was very dangerous. I was living without being medicated for about a couple of months. I knew nothing about type 1 diabetes. I was in complete denial, and I was extremely overwhelmed. I wanted nothing to do with it, I wanted no part of any device that would be attached to me or anything like that. I just wanted to take the insulin and do what I needed to do. It was a very frightening time, and I had a lot of plans. I was moving to L.A., but I was told to postpone because of this chronic disease."

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Park decided to still take the leap and move to the West Coast, where she later booked The Royals, a drama that premiered on E! in 2015. "I moved to London about a week later and filmed the pilot. That was the biggest job I've ever done and a very unexpected sort of collision of two massive events that happened at the same time," she says. "I shot the pilot and I was scraping through with my management of my diabetes. I started taking dangerous amounts of correctional insulin, but we had to stop shooting the show because I was experiencing low blood sugar at the time. I continued on that road, but I realized I wasn't going to be able to maintain this when it comes to my diabetes if I wanted to be an actor and do all the things I wanted to do. I realized something had to change. During those first five years, I was barely holding it together. I was not coping very well."

The brunette beauty then hit "rock bottom" and passed out in front of [director] James Lafferty, whom she would later go on to marry. "He had to hit me with a glycogen pen. It was terrifying," she recalls. "I realized then that if I wanted to keep up with my job, it led me to get the MiniMed™ 780G insulin pump system. It has completely changed my life in terms of how I manage my diabetes, and it's been a game-changer for me."

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Source: Medtronic Diabetes

The star feels 'free' now that she's come to terms with her type 1 diabetes diagnosis.

Park eventually learned that "perfection is an illusion" — specifically when it comes to her "diabetes and career."

"This idea of perfection is nonsense. It's made up and not real. Once I sort of learned that through my condition, I felt free," she admits. "I was able to focus on coming up with a solution and asking for help, and that's what this device has done. The device works like another brain. It's there all the time reading my blood sugar as I am going about my life, and it's taken away an enormous amount of daily decisions I have to make about these injections that I was constantly having to do all day every day. It's doing that for me and it's correcting any sort of little spikes or drops in a safe way and keeping me in a safe range."

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With the MiniMed™ 780G insulin pump system, Park can go to sleep so the device can do all of the work for her throughout the night. "For a type 1 diabetic, sleep is something that is very easily interrupted with diabetes. Now, every single morning since I've woken up and been on the device, it goes back to where it needs to be. I look at it first thing in the morning, and I'm in a good mood. I have a fraction of the amount of work to do than I used to do," she shares.

Though the Everyone Is Doing Great star has always been a "pretty health conscious person," she now eats low-carb and has come up with other ways to feel like she's eating pasta, cake or cookies.

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Source: @alexandrapark/instagram

Alexandra Park loves helping others who may be dealing with something similar.

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"My diet massively changed in that sense for the better," she says. "I don't miss the way I used to eat at all. In terms of exercise, it's important for me to move around to keep my blood sugar in check."

Since Park wrote a book in 2021 called Sugar High about the challenges of living with type 1 diabetes, she feels like that was therapeutic for her. "It was basically everything I learned along the way and this sort of core message about how no one is perfect. Having written that book means a lot to me and it has allowed me to connect with so many other people in the world who are living with type 1 diabetes," she says. "By sharing my story it's been incredible to travel around the world and have these conversations or work obligations. I'm now encouraging others to share their story in the same way I felt like I could with mine. It's pretty powerful."

alexandra park r
Source: Medtronic Diabetes

The actress' life has changed for the better because of her new device.

"It felt empowering to write about my journey, and I feel proud of myself because it's connected me to these incredible organizations that I learned about along the way, with Medtronic Diabetes being one of them," she adds. "Being hit with a curveball like this can make you stronger, and it can add to your character. I just hope that by sharing my story, it will encourage others to do the same and that nobody's dream should be put on hold because of type 1 diabetes. I am sleeping through the night — that would give anyone a new lease on life."

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