In this blog post, Diabetes Advocate Phyllisa Deroze shares her story of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and how it affects her life on a daily basis.
When I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2011, I was surprised, confused, and overwhelmed. My diagnosis came a week after my primary care physician misdiagnosed me with an electrolyte deficiency. Within a week of treating the electrolyte imbalance my blood sugar levels reached 593. I was entering a diabetic coma and was admitted into a local hospital in Fayetteville, North Carolina, for six days.
During that time, I learned little about diabetes because I was emotionally devastated and didn’t have the support I needed to help me process the diagnosis. I was 31 years old with healthy eating habits, no family history of Type 2 diabetes, and exercised regularly. I didn’t believe that I fit the category of someone with Type 2 diabetes, so I spent most of the time in the hospital puzzled, shocked, and scared.
My personality made adjusting to life with diabetes challenging. I’m witty, I can be the life of a party when I’m in the mood, and I am spontaneous; however, diabetes is best managed when you have a regular routine. I am not good with numbers, and diabetes management requires a lot of math and recordkeeping.
When I was first diagnosed, I didn’t know how or if I would return to having a “normal” life again. The thought of adding food logging, blood sugar checks, medication intake, and carb-counting on top of all the other things I did was overwhelming. Finding the right balance for me and my spontaneous spirit was a struggle. Fortunately, with the development of technology, I have more options for carb-counting and logging my food that simplify the tasks and lighten the burden.
Because my fasting blood sugar determines what I eat for breakfast, I think about diabetes within the first few moments of waking up. Because I have to count carbs, I think about diabetes at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack time. Because it’s important to check my blood sugar before, after, and sometimes while exercising, I end up thinking about diabetes multiple times per day.
By far, the most important thing I did for my diabetes management was to stop looking at the larger picture and focus on the present moment. Any time the thought would cross my mind of having to check my blood sugar, track my meals, and live in a world of numbers for the rest of my life, I was thrown into an emotional rut. However, when I scaled things down and focused on my current reality (the meal in front of me, the tablet I need to take now, the blood sugar check that must happen at this time) I was much stronger emotionally and the task at hand felt easier to complete.
Diabetes management is hard because it’s continuous. However, the longer I do it, the easier it gets, and the quicker I move from one item on the agenda to the next. The first time I gave myself an injection it probably took five minutes, now it’s quicker than I can recall. There are apps that help make tracking my blood sugar results and meals possible with a few clicks. For anyone newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, I can say from experience that it gets better and can be less time-consuming than it may be now.
Phyllisa Deroze is a professor of English Literature and a global patient advocate for Type 2 diabetes. On February 15, 2011, she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes after being misdiagnosed twice and passing out in her bathtub from hyperglycemia. She began blogging at DiagnosedNotDefeated.com almost immediately as a way to inform friends and family about what happened to her. While searching for diabetes information, she noticed a lack of cultural competence and a year later she founded BlackDiabeticInfo.com to help fill the gaps. Phyllisa strives to end Type 2 diabetes stigma and inspire others to live their lives, “Diagnosed NOT defeated.” You can follow her on Instagram (@blackdiabeticinfo) and Twitter (@not_defeated).
Thank you, Phyllisa, for sharing your story with our readers.
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