Life With Diabetes

Since it’s Diabetes Awareness Month I thought I’d share a little something about my experience with you all. My dad was diagnosed with diabetes when I was about 12 years old. I think back then we didn’t really know much about the disease. People still don’t know a lot about it – they assume you get diabetes because you’re fat, you eat badly, and it’s your own fault. Wrong! In some cases part of this may be the issue, but it is NOT your fault. My dad was actually very thin when he was diagnosed and was LOSING weight when he decided to go to the doctor to find out why. Often very thin people have diabetes – it’s a heredity thing for a lot of us.
Flash forward about 10 years later and I’M diagnosed (after a very badly misdiagnosed first baby and delivery) as having Gestational Diabetes with my second child. I was hospitalized and immediately had to learn to give myself insulin shots, check my blood sugars several times a day, eat regularly scheduled meals, etc. I had Gestational Diabetes with all of my pregnancies (four of them – one of them being twins) and thankfully for almost all of them the diabetes went away right after the baby was born. With my last and fifth child it did not. I still had Gestational Diabetes for about six months after he was born but thankfully it did eventually go away.(Often not the case for many women.) This Gestational Diabetes put me in a much higher bracket for the likelihood of ending up with Diabetes later in life – 60% more. Meanwhile, my mom also ends up diagnosed with Diabetes and many other family members as well. I had a very high rate of likelihood I would end up with Diabetes by this point.
Now, about 13 years later, my kids are in their teens and I am finally at a point in life when I can really begin to focus on me, and my health, and have been doing so for the last three years. I’ve slowly but steadily improved my health, working out at the gym regularly (with my family as well), walking often, and have worked hard to reinvent our favorite recipes with healthy twists. I’ve dropped 20 lbs. in the last three years by doing all of this.
BUT I hit 40 this year. I went to the doctor in July and was diagnosed with Diabetes. So frustrating because I’ve been working so hard and lost quite a bit of weight (I am not a large person, either) and here I am stuck with this dreaded disease! I now take medication that has helped me to lose the fat around my tummy that has always frustrated me. Diabetes – an increase in blood sugars/issues with your insulin not working properly in your body, causes this. The medicine makes me feel really tired and sick to my stomach. Some days getting out of bed and dressed is a chore. I know it will not always be this way as my body adjusts to this medication – but with five teens to care for, four of whom I am homeschooling, there are days that this feels like it will never end. There are days I want to feel sorry for myself and envy those who can just eat whatever they want with no visible issues. But I am a fighter. I will not let Diabetes conquer me – I am conquering it every day I eat healthy. Every day I exercise. Every day I get up and am thankful that today I am alive. I am thankful that I can teach my children by example how to eat healthy, how to exercise and learn to enjoy it. How to stand up and fight for the life I want to live.
My kids are teens and they love sugar (which we limit) so if they are buying a treat they want to offer it to me. Sweet kids! They have my best at heart – but they forget that I have to be careful what I eat. So I say to them now, “Hmmm, would I rather have that item, or lose my foot?” They laugh and know I am teasing them, but the truth is their grandpa has lost a foot and most of his leg from diabetes. It is a real problem and I truly have to think in those terms some days. I love to travel – and I want to be able to walk everywhere, so I think in terms of my future. I rejoice in the health I have now and plan for the future I want to have later. And I pray one day there may be a cure for Diabetes.
In the meantime, I want to encourage all of us to think about the judgment we often pass on to others when we do not understand the full picture. Diabetes is a result of health issues and not simply a fat person’s disease. We did not “choose” to become Diabetics. It often feels like I am part of a secret group because we are afraid to share with others our illness knowing the judgment we incur from others if we’re Diabetic and overweight; Diabetic and eating dessert or fattening foods – just like anyone on a diet we can plan for these treats and don’t deserve the judgment we often receive; or Diabetic and ….. Please help encourage those you know with Diabetes to stick with their health plans but be there for them – don’t judge them. Diabetes has a very high rate of depression. It’s a lonely disease and we need to get the word out that Diabetics need support and encouragement. Living every day pricking yourself, giving yourself shots, taking meds that make you feel awful, having the think about every bite you put in your mouth or plan to can be exhausting. Sure some of us do need to lose weight or change the way we eat, but there are many of us whom you would think are in perfect health from the outside. Everyone has something they’re struggling with – let’s start looking for ways to encourage each other and support one another instead of tearing each other down. You just might be the difference someone needs to keep on fighting for their health today!

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Seasons In Life

It’s that time of year again! Time to get out all the winter clothing and go through everything piece by piece. What needs mending? Is it too big or too small? Is it missing a button, or does it need polishing? Every year I go through not only MY stuff, but my kids’ stuff as well. It’s gotten a lot easier as they’ve gotten older and can help me now.

As my kids are all getting bigger – I’ve been shrinking! LOL Both height (aging stinks!) and I’ve successfully dropped 20 lbs in the last two years. One puny pound at a time – but I stuck with it and it feels great to have clothes fit better or be too big – my pile of clothes to garage sale is pretty big! The pile of kids’ clothes to sell is ridiculously large! My kids are all teens now and growing like weeds.

One thing I hear often from people is how THEY’D never have as many kids as I do because it’s soooo expensive to clothe, feed, etc, etc. them. I have to say we’ve been blessed (and I hear we’re not alone in this!) to have clothes shared with us, or amazing finds in the clearance that I know are truly God’s way of blessing our faith that HE will provide for these children HE has blessed us with aisles (I once bought a full suit at JC Penny for one of my grade school aged boys for $2.97!). Sure, money’s tight a lot. We don’t get to do a ton of expensive vacations – but we’ve done a lot over the years. We pass down clothes and don’t care about name brands but rather quality – gasp! My kids have learned to appreciate what they have and take care of it. They are old enough now that they have jobs babysitting, doing yard work, or working at a grocery store, and they buy things they want themselves and extra clothing items as well. They’re happy to – not because I ask them (which I don’t) but because they feel pride in being able to provide for themselves, too.

People tell me all the time what great kids we have – so happy, hardworking, caring… I enjoy hearing it and agree, but I never take credit for that. My kids have learned great skills from a lot of people –including my husband and I. But their personalities – that’s all God. I’m blessed to watch them learn and grow on a daily basis since we homeschool and I get to watch how God fixes and mends my kids and myself through life’s different seasons.

This past summer has been a really hard one for me, personally, and my family as well. It all started out amazingly well – I turned 40 this last May and my husband and I were able to escape for a few days to Disneyland/California Adventure, just the two of us. We had a GREAT time and the kids had a great time back here as well with friends and family that so blessed us by helping in their care while we were away. Then, in July I got in a pretty serious car accident. Two days later I was told I have diabetes and had to begin meds that make me feel AWFUL. All my hard work eating healthy and losing all that weight was not enough to keep it at bay. So disappointing! I’d worked so hard and it felt like it was all for nothing. (I had gestational diabetes with all four of my pregnancies so my risks were very high on top of all the family history of it.) Then, I had an inconclusive mammogram, followed up by another inconclusive one and an ultrasound –again…. inconclusive. So while that’s hanging over my head for the next six months when I go in to have another test… we find out our car I was rear-ended in the accident in, is now totaled and they will be keeping it. Effective immediately. (We were “reimbursed the loss” but it didn’t begin to cover the cost of replacing it.) Wham! Bam! Pow! Hit after hit. Talk about a hard season. We only had one vehicle and were now essentially carless with a family of 7. Thankfully friends pitched in and loaned us vehicles – a total of 7 loaners and rentals over two months of constant car shopping. We finally ended up with a vehicle that is not nearly as nice as the one we had and cost us almost twice as much as what we owed. I am thankful in this season that God is mending my body (I am currently dealing with neck and back issues since the accident) and He’s restoring my families’ schedule and life. It’s all looking quite different than before – but it’s also much better in a lot of ways. Because of everything, we’ve had to scale back on what I do for schooling and found other avenues to cover the things that took me the most time. Less stress makes a difference in my diabetes. My kids have had to step up their independent work times – and that’s a good skill for them to be utilizing. The family has all been able to focus on prayer and thanksgiving. We are a closer knit family.

As I pull out my winter clothes and put away the summer ones, I realize I’m ready for a new season. I’m looking forward to watching God continue to work in our lives and teach us what HE wants us to see. I’m thankful my kids are growing in more ways than just up and enjoying the ride. I’m choosing to see His grace in my circumstances – because I know He has my best in mind!

This is THE year!

This is THE year! 2014. The year we talked about for so many years and it’s finally here… the year my oldest will turn 18 right after I turn 40. The year my youngest baby turns 13 and I have FIVE teenagers in my house! (AKA the year I threatened I’d be moving out! LOL) The year my husband and I will have been married 20 years. HOW did it come so fast????

I think this will be a very busy year with celebrations and life moments but I also want it to be a year of intentions. I don’t want to just make New Year’s resolutions – I want to keep them. I don’t want to just resolve to want to do something – I want to plan HOW I will do it. I have a few resolutions in mind, but nothing solid yet because before I write it down I want to plan it out and write that down, too. So I’ll start with a few here and would love to have you add yours, too! I’d love to hear what is important to you!

I have been working on my health this past year specifically and plan to continue to do so. I want to lose those stubborn pounds that apparently are lonely and don’t want to leave me! I want to be even more purposeful about this – even though I did do a lot this last year. I turn 40 in May and want to lose ALL those pounds by then. I plan to keep drinking…. Lots of water. I plan to finally find a dr. and talk about my health with them. I will keep exercising and adding in even more during the week. Since my husband’s unpaid furlough I’ve made a concerted effort to cook almost all our meals at home – and make them healthy. I will keep that up. It saves us money and we are healthier because of it as well. It’s also been fun to take yummy unhealthy recipes and figure out ways to make them healthy and still keep the yum!

I want to focus even more on paying off our home equity loan. I hate being in debt. We’ve lived without it for so long and now we have a couple of things we have to pay off and I am determined to do so quickly. Water heater will be paid off by the end of March. Car loan is a 5 yr. loan and I’d like to figure out how to make that 2 instead.

I want to push myself to do new things and grow. Last year I went to New York on a missions trip – and LOVED it! I don’t know that I can go again on one this year, but would love to do so. In the meantime, I have been enjoying having my own quiet time each morning before my kiddos get up. I intend to keep that up. While I am growing spiritually, I also want to grow as a woman. I want to be more confident in myself so I intend to keep pushing myself to do things that make me uncomfortable. I’ve started a bucket list of things I’d like to do and have slowly been working on doing them. I truly enjoyed John Ortberg’s book If You Want to Walk on Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat. In it he talks about fear being something we should be okay with feeling. That those times we truly step out in faith are the times we often grow the most. I am trying to do that.

So there’s a few of my resolutions. What are yours? I love that a new year can be a time of starting fresh. I feel the same way about fall, but there’s something about starting each year with a goal. Each day is a new day – a clean slate, a breath of fresh air. I love that God gives us this! We all have days that are hard (even months and years!) but He tells us joy comes in the morning(Psalm 30:5b), and His mercies are new every morning(Lamentations 3:22-23). May today be the start of something new and encouraging for you! Happy New Year!