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!