When my doctor said, “You have diabetes. You’ll have to watch your sugar, change your lifestyle, and lose some weight,” I was dismayed. For one, I was addicted to sugar. Second, I had been trying for years to lose weight, and I knew it just wasn’t possible. Third, I was not adept in the kitchen--toasting bread maxxed out my repertoire.
Diabetes affects nearly 25 million Americans, and that number is expected to grow substantially every year. It's the fifth leading cause of death in America, more than breast cancer and AIDs combined. And according to a report released last week from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), it's a disease that’s costing Americans $83 billion a year in hospital fees — 23 percent of total hospital spending.
Burnout is common among people with diabetes, especially those who have had the disease for years, even decades. Diabetes management can be exhausting, confusing, and frustrating, particularly when you think you are doing everything right but your blood sugars still fail to cooperate.
When doctors hand out a diagnosis of diabetes, I wish they'd give you a list of tips that can make life happier living with the illness. After my diagnosis, I felt ashamed of my diabetes, ashamed of my inability to control it with diet and exercise even though I literally worked out every single day for nine months straight. I skipped nearly all carbohydrates and didn't eat meat at the time, so all I ate was nuts, cheese, eggs, and vegetables. The doctor didn't put me on insulin right away because I was eighteen, and she wasn't sure if I had type 1 or type 2. But nothing I did was working. It was soon apparent that I was type 1 and that insulin injections were unavoidable. I had no idea that it wasn't my fault. I felt hopeless, hungry, exhausted, and alone.
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