Guest Post: Diabetes Has Not Stopped Me From Living A Fulfilling Life
“Are you familiar with diabetes?” I remember a doctor asking my mom as I lay in the ER during the summer of 1995. I was a 21 year old college student who was trying to imagine a life ahead of me with needles and a glucometer. I had come into the ER with every symptom on the checklist. I spent a week in the hospital learning what I had to do before I would be heading back to college and planning a wedding. I remember having the overwhelming feeling of life seeming so unfair. I felt like I had already had my share of tragedies and now this? It was during my second night at the hospital when I rolled over and my IV line caught on the bed and it hurt so bad I started to cry. It suddenly dawned on me that I had been so dehydrated I hadn’t felt tears in a very long time. I sensed God’s presence and felt him reassuring me that everything would be okay. There could be life with diabetes and he had bigger plans for me.
I was determined to not let diabetes stop me from achieving my goals.
The past twenty years have been a roller coaster. Diabetes definitely affected my work. My job settings as a swim coach, lifeguard and teacher didn’t allow for easy ways to test blood sugar and there were no nurses stations at the schools so I was left on my own to manage my blood sugar. I carried a huge responsibility with me when I was at work, whatever that work might be, and because of that I was fearful of my blood sugar dropping too low. My husband traveled during the weeks and I was often alone under the watchful eyes of my dogs. For that reason, from about 1996-1999 my A1C stayed between 8-10. My blood sugar was high all the time and I got used to it being high. I’m not very proud of that now, but it was a choice I made that just became part of my life.
In 1999 I became pregnant with my first child. I was excited and scared. Over the next five years I would give birth to three children. During my pregnancies, my A1C would range between 5-6 and it would stay between 7-8 when I wasn’t pregnant. I was a stay at home mom during those years, so I stayed busy raising three children, coordinating a local MOPS group, and volunteering at school and church. During this time I also started wearing a Medtronic pump which became a blessing and a curse. It was great that I wouldn’t have to worry about carrying needles in a child’s diaper bag, but I would often forget to bolus. I ended up developing a bad habit of just treating high blood sugars an hour or two after a meal instead of bolusing before.
In 2011 my sister introduced me to CrossFit and I immediately loved it. My health came back to the front of my attention and I was able to make some lifestyle changes for the better. I started checking my blood sugar more than I ever had, I started following a Paleo diet. I started loosing weight and backing off of my insulin intake. Everything started having a positive spiral effect on my diabetes. Eating better led to drinking more water and feeling better. Exercising put me in a better mood. Feeling better about myself made me want to continue taking better care of myself. From 2011 to present day a lot has happened. But now I’m in much better control of my disease and it no longer takes a back seat.
Diabetes has not stopped me from living a very fulfilling life.
I’ve been able to adopt a child, visit Paris, Dubai, Cuba, and parts of South America. I’m able to keep up with four very busy kids. I’ve had major jaw surgery, several moves, the stress of family life with a traveling husband and a few dogs to throw in the mix. Social media has helped me to connect for the very first time to other people with the disease. I can understand the struggles and we can encourage each other to overcome similar challenges.
You can follow Joanne on her Facebook page.