Skip to content

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Accepting My Diabetes

Melissa Jeffries spent years ignoring her illness, indulging in unhealthy foods and slipping into seizures and comas. Finally, a new relationship and better attitude encouraged her to take control of her diabetes.
By Melissa Jeffries
WebMD Magazine - Feature

When I was a little kid, my mother said I used to put sugar on everything, even Frosted Flakes. I loved sugar and for 14 glorious years I ate it without consequence. That all changed suddenly one day in 1986 when I failed a swim team physical and landed in the hospital. I had type 1 diabetes.

The hospital was a whirlwind of information, insulin shots, and finger pricks. But with the training over, my extreme thirst gone, and my blood sugar in check, I thought this diabetes thing would be a breeze. I soon discovered that was definitely not the case.

Recommended Related to Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes Screening

Type 2 diabetes is a common and serious disease in the United States and worldwide. However, it’s thought that one-third of those with type 2 diabetes are unaware that they have this serious illness. Because often there are no symptoms with type 2 diabetes, early screening may help people avoid the more serious complications of this disease, including chronic hyperglycemia that’s associated with long-term damage of the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart, and blood vessels. Persons with undiagnosed...

Read the Type 2 Diabetes Screening article > >

Four months after I was diagnosed, I was back in the hospital, only this time I was in a coma following a low-sugar seizure. The seizures continued as I ignored my diabetes and tried to live like a "normal" teen. I also tried to live like a "normal" college student -- my roommates soon became more experienced in bringing me out of a seizure than I'm sure they ever wanted to be.

I continued on this path of destructive behavior until a mixture of maturity and a new relationship gave me a surprising new perspective. As my new relationship developed, my boyfriend observed my complacency and the resulting seizures. Each seizure evoked desperate pleas to take care of myself. Seeing the pain I was causing him, I finally realized how selfish I was being all these years. With this much overdue realization, I made a vow to take control. My most important step was deciding to use an insulin pump. I had always rejected using one because I didn't want anything on my body that constantly reminded me of my diabetes. This thinking clearly needed to change.

Today, with my pump in tow, my control is better than it's ever been. I can throw away my syringes, eat whenever I want, and sleep late on the weekends. The best part, however, is that the seizures have stopped and my boyfriend's anxiety has decreased tenfold. I'm not a perfect diabetic -- any one seeing me near a Krispy Kreme doughnut can attest to that -- but with my new attitude I am finally taking responsibility for my diabetes.

Originally published in the September/October 2005 issue of WebMD the Magazine.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
kenneth fujioka, md
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Middle aged person
Home Healthcare

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
type 2 diabetes
food fitness planner