I always thought in the back of my mind that I might get type 2 diabetes.
I just assumed it would happen after I got pregnant. My mother had gestational diabetes that turned into type 2 after her pregnancy, and so did my grandmother. When my symptoms started at age 26 -- dizziness, blurred vision, getting up to go to the bathroom every hour at night -- I just figured I was working too much. I was social media manager for a nonprofit, putting in 50 to 60 hours a week.
I lived with symptoms for about 4 months. Finally, it got to the point where I felt really bad and tired. That forced me to go to the doctor to find out what it was.
My doctor did a physical exam, checked my blood pressure and weight, and did an A1c test of my blood sugar. My A1c was 12%, which was way higher than normal. My doctor said, “If you stay on this path, you’re going to do a lot of damage to yourself. You need to shape up and change your life.”
I already was pretty health conscious, aside from working too much. My first 3 months of treatment just focused on diet and exercise. My doctor wanted me to keep a food log so he could see what changes I needed to make to my diet. He also gave me the directive to add more exercise. When I came back 3 months later, my A1c had dropped from 12% to 10%.
I thought that was a pretty good change in 3 months, but my doctor wasn’t satisfied. He added a diabetes drug and a combination long-acting and short-acting insulin. The other thing he had me do was six to eight finger sticks a day to check my blood sugar. That was difficult for me, having to stop my life several times a day to test. I eventually discovered a continuous glucose monitoring device with a sensor that I wear on the back of my upper arm for 14 days. Now I just scan the device to get accurate, real-time glucose readings without the pain of finger sticks.
I’ve changed what I eat to adapt to my blood sugar level. I’m now on a long-acting insulin, which prevents me from getting blood sugar spikes at mealtimes. I also exercise more. I run, take a boxing class twice a week, and practice yoga. At my last checkup, my A1c was 6.1% -- in the healthy range.
I started my blog, Hangry Woman, in 2016 to give people a sense of what life with type 2 diabetes looks like. You can live a pretty healthy and happy life. You have to work pretty hard at it for sure, but it’s achievable and possible.
1. Make small steps
Sometimes when you try to think of the big picture, it can scare you. Take it one day at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.
2. Find a community
A lot of people get diagnosed in isolation. They don’t have anyone to turn to about their frustrations. Find a diabetes support group. Just listening to other people talk can be helpful.
3. Make incremental changes
When you get that diagnosis, you don’t have to change every single thing about your life. Make small changes and you’ll really see your successes.
4. Focus on the good
You’ll have good days and bad days. Focus on the good ones. It’s important for people to know that there are positive aspects to having this condition.