My name is Kate and I’m just an ordinary person leading an ordinary life. What makes me somewhat different, other than my wacky sense of humor, is that I am living my ordinary life with Type 2 diabetes.
I’d like to say that makes me unique, but the sad truth is that every day, more and more people are being diagnosed with this disease. Even worse, there are thousands upon thousands of people who don’t even know they are already affected.
When I received the phone call in 2005 informing me that I had Type 2 diabetes, I was sure that it was a mistake. I felt fine! I wasn’t sick. They must have called the wrong person! Well, it wasn’t a mistake. I had to deal with it.
OK, so I have diabetes. Now what? When I saw the doctor she said that I needed to exercise and change my diet. Losing some weight would be beneficial. She told me to get a glucose meter and check my blood glucose at various times during the day: first thing in the morning, before a meal, two hours after a meal, at bedtime, when the moon is full, on trash day…What? What did she say?
Be mindful of what you’re eating and how much of each thing: no more than so many grams of fat, so much protein and about 30 grams of carbs per meal. Huh? What’s a carb? I later discovered that a carb is something that I absolutely adore. Damn the luck!
I left that doctor’s office in a daze. I knew that I had to make some changes but I wasn’t sure where to begin. I’m intelligent. I can figure this out! I just had to deal with it.
How am I dealing with it? Over the course of several years, I have made changes to what I eat on a daily basis. At first I cut out fast food and as much processed food as I could. Just this year, I have drastically cut back on my daily carb intake and I focus more on non-starchy vegetables; that has caused a huge improvement to my blood glucose control.
It has taken time and experimentation to find out what works for me. I’ve made these changes slowly over time. When you’re first diagnosed it feels like you have to make drastic changes NOW or ELSE!
I think it’s important not to try and become this other person overnight. If we deprive ourselves of things we’re comfortable with it feels like a prison sentence. When in prison all you want is out (this is purely conjecture on my part having never been in prison, really!).
Diabetes is here to stay (I hope I’m wrong), so we need to get comfy with it. Making small changes that are healthy feels good.
I also had to learn not beat myself up when I “blow it.” What is it they say? It takes 28 days to make a new habit or something like that. Becoming a healthier eater doesn’t happen overnight.
So if I drove through a fast food place and had a burger and fries for dinner, I had to learn not to hate myself in the morning. I just had to move on. No one is perfect!
Did I need to stop doing that very often? Yes. What benefits have I gained since I stopped? A healthier, hopefully longer life. That one burger wasn’t going to kill me, but if I had continued to live an unhealthy lifestyle my life would likely be shorter than I wanted and not nearly as much fun.
Living with diabetes is a lifestyle, not a sentence. I don’t think about being on a diet, which keeps me from feeling deprived. Every day I’m faced with choices, and I’m committed to making choices that will help to keep me healthy. I’d much rather see my grandchildren grow up into fine adults than to eat foods that aren’t good for me. That’s my choice and I’m happy with it.
If you were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, what are your tips for staying healthy?
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Kate Cornell, who writes the blog Sweet Success: My Life With Type 2 Diabetes, lives in Arizona with her husband. She enjoys camping, hiking, writing and reading and spending time with her husband, four grown children and four grandsons.