As a woman with diabetes, you may have noticed that you face unique challenges, from where to place your insulin pump, to pregnancy, to hormone fluctuations. Many diabetes books offer general diabetes advice, but few focus on women beyond just a short chapter. That is, until now.
When I was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I recall the numerous comments that people blurted out in an attempt to make me feel better about my situation. But the truth was that I just needed to be treated like everyone else. I was in the midst of a confusing, depressing, and life-altering diagnosis. The last thing I needed was a pat on the back that felt more like a slap in the face.
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.
If you've had diabetes for a number of years, chances are that you remember when there was no Internet access and no diabetes online community. You had no way to look up information online and no instant connection to millions of others around the world living with diabetes. Unless you had a friend nearby with diabetes, there was no one to understand how you felt when your blood sugar numbers were less than stellar, and no one to sympathize with how hard it can be to get your A1C down.
Imagine if you could keep diabetes at bay for another three or four years with lifestyle changes. Would you change what you ate? Would you commit to an exercise program, maintain a food journal, and join a support group? Imagine if you could take these simple steps and save money. How quickly would you say "Sign me up"?
It's that time of year again: flu season. I never thought much about getting a flu shot until fourteen years ago, when I ended up in the emergency room with the flu and a staggering blood sugar of over 800 mg/dL. I had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a few years before and had never discussed a sick day plan with my doctor. But during this experience, I discovered that diabetes and the flu get along about as well as a house cat and a junkyard dog.
"If you weren't having this conversation with me, who, other than your wife, would you be having it with?" That question, in response to something I'd said about treating my nine-year-old daughter's diabetes, was posed to me over the phone by a friend I had made less than six months earlier. She has a daughter too, the same age as mine, who also has type 1. Their diagnosis came a couple of years before ours, so I respect her experience and opinion, and so does my wife, Franca.
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