Type 2 diabetes changed my life. Over 30 million people in the U.S. have diabetes. This includes Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. These statistics include children, men, women, and elderly people; and each day the numbers continue to grow (ADA). 15 million women have been diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. This includes Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes; and as you can see, I am one of these women. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2016. A person who is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes has an A1c or HbA1c of 6.5 or greater. A1c measures your average blood sugar levels over the past 3 months.
If that is not scary enough, I was prescribed medication called Metformin. I had to take this medicine twice a day. Also as a part of my treatment, I had a care team. My care team consisted of doctors, a diabetes educator, wound care specialist, and a nutritionist. My treatment also included monitoring my blood sugar levels each day. I learned a lot with this diagnosis. I learned how to count carbs, the importance of weight loss as an aid to control diabetes, and how the homeostatic effects of taking the medication such as dizziness could happen as a result of my body adjusting from high blood sugar levels to normal blood sugar levels.
If that wasn’t scary enough, in addition to being diagnosed with diabetes, I was also diagnosed with hypertension. Yes. All of this was happening to me at once. When I heard the physician say that I would have Type 2 diabetes for the rest of my life; and there was a possibility that I might have to take medicine for the rest of my life, I panicked. Eventually, I accepted that this was the new journey of my life; and the quality of my health was in question. What was I to do? I had to take control of my life and change my outcome. I created my health goal. I then realized the realities of my health situation (i.e. all of the things that could go wrong if I mismanaged my health care or interrupted the process of my healing). Steps that would allow me to achieve the healing goal to ensure that I would get closer to my expected outcome had to be taken. The outcome for my change and for my efforts is to improve the quality of my life by improving my health.
My healing. I knew that if I wanted better health, the process of healing had to happen without interruptions. The things that I did to restore my health seem simple to do but there can be challenges along the way. I kept reminding myself even through the denial, even through the depression, and even through the fatigue of diabetes care, that I was on a path to restoration. And, I was. At doctor check-ins, I received praise for my changes- I guess as extrinsic motivation. But, I had no thought of quitting. I was trying to reach my weight loss goal, my medication goal, my A1c goal, and the goal to protect my mind and my spirit. I took the initiative to educate myself on my own about managing my diabetes. I ate differently by sacrificing some foods that would spike up blood sugar levels and substituting them with healthier choices. I shopped for my foods differently by looking at how many carbs were included per serving size. I learned how others were managing their diabetes by including myself in diabetes communities. I started taking care of my physical self by moving more and learning how to pay attention to skin care as a diabetic. There were other revisions that accompanied my new lifestyle. I made a choice to work on changing my old habits and to be intentional in allowing my new habits to transform my life and restore my health.
My health. I am still working to improve my health. When I accomplish one healing goal, I create another. I will continue to create self improvement goals until my expected outcome for my health is reached. I have lost weight since my diagnosis. I am proud of my accomplishment but the journey is not over yet. I am grateful that my A1c is no longer in the range of prediabetic or diabetic status. Therefore, I am not currently on medications but this part of my journey isn’t over. I make sure to get regular check-ups and to get my A1c checked two-three times a year. I also encourage other people who have diabetes in their health journeys. We learn from each other.
For me, my journey to good health has been managing my diabetes and to improve my quality of life. I See You Growing Life Coaching conducted a “Healthy Girl” survey to learn about the health challenges that other women may be facing as well. The survey had four questions, some in which multiple responses could be given. They were asked to rate their overall health, to name their condition (s), and to select their steps to restore. Ten women responded. Because I See You Growing Life Coaching surveys do not ask for identifying information, we can not accurately share any details of the demographics of the participants.
How would you rate your overall health? 7 out of 10 of the participants responded that they had fair health. The remaining participants stated they had good health.
Conditions. There are 13 conditions listed in the survey (heart disease, breast cancer, ovarian and cervical cancer, gynecological issues, pregnancy issues, autoimmune diseases, depression and anxiety, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, other, and none of the above). 40% of these participants had none of these. 40% of the participants reported experiencing depression and anxiety. 30% of the participants reported having diabetes and hypertension. 10% of the participants reported having gynecological issues and arthritis. Finally, 10% of the participants responded as other.
Steps to Restore. In this section, the participants had to select the type of intervention or the absence of intervention that applied to them (take medicine, surgery, regular doctor visits, inability to pay to see a doctor, other, or none of the above). 10% of the participants reported that they could not afford to see a doctor. 60% of the participants. reported that they regularly see a doctor. 50% of the participants reported that they have had surgery in the past. 30% of the participants reported that they are currently taking medications. Also, no one needs surgery at this time. And everyone has been to the doctor within the past year.
Steps to Restore. In this section, participants had to select the steps that they were taking to improve their health ( exercising, regular doctor visits, taking medicine, and managing stress ). If any of the participants already had good health, this selection could be made. Any questions about nutrition and mental health were excluded from this survey as an oversight. But as we know, it is just as important. 5 out of 10 participants responded that they have started exercising more. 5 out of 10 participants responded they are having regular doctor visits. 3 out of 10 participants responded that they have started taking their medicine. 4 out of 10 of the participants responded that they are managing their stress. 2 out of 10 participants responded that they have good health.
The goal of the survey was to raise awareness. As we see from looking at the survey data, women are taking control of their health first by knowing what issues they are faced with-if any. They are able to look at their current reality about their own health journeys (i.e. access to health care, healthy choices, etc.). Finally, they are able to applaud their efforts and to continue to have healthy outcomes. I intend to.
Resources. The Office of Women’s Health is a good resource. It covers a multitude of health-related topics that are unique to all women.
If you have diabetes like me, the American Diabetes Association is a good resource for education and the latest issues associated with diabetes.
The American Heart Association is a good resource for hypertension and conditions of the heart.
The Center for Disease Control also has a multitude of resources for different health conditions and diseases.
GoodRX can help with medications and prescriptions
Using a budget to pay for medical care is important if you do not have health insurance. Find out the price of how much a doctor visit costs before you go. Alert the doctor office that you are a self-pay. Apply for medicaid through your state government program to see if you qualify.
As a part of my testimony, taking care of myself required strategy and sacrifice. This included planning for medical care, funding medical care, home care intervention, and a continuity of care. Diabetes came into my life but I decided not to allow it to control my life. And this choice changed my life for the rest of my life.
Statistics about Diabetes. ADA, http://www.diabetes.org
American Heart Association, AHA, http://www.heart.org
Women’s Health; CDC Women’s Health, www. cdc.gov
Directory of Local Health Department, http://www.naccho.org