I will be blessed to celebrate 50 years of living with diabetes and on insulin on Tuesday, Dec. 2. I invite friends to come celebrate that evening with me at the Stockton Miners Cafe from 5-7 p.m.
Tooele’s own Type1 Racing group has a “Bringing the Hope” fund for people with diabetes who run into overwhelming expenses. So we also invite people to bring or send donations for the fund. It’s initial use will be for Becky and Bryan Ditty, PA-C, long-time supporters of persons with diabetes. Donations can be made at the celebration or by going to www.type1racing.com and selecting donations. For details about the celebration, go to Facebook events, “Celebration of blessings, hope & life.”
I vaguely remember my diagnosis at age 9: Feeling so very ill, I slept through an exciting power outage, having a nurse walk into the hospital room and yank Christmas candy away from me, telling me I’d never eat candy again (ha!), being shown large bags of sugar-free cake mix, taught to test my urine for sugar, and give injections with glass syringes and dull metal needles to an orange. Because my parents remained positive and shared their religious beliefs that I, with the help of my Savior, could handle this condition, it has resulted in many benefits along with challenges.
When I learned in college of the devastating complications diabetes, or, rather, high-blood sugars, could cause, I wondered how I could break that news to my parents. Only years later I learned that, at my diagnosis, they had been told because of diabetes I would suffer blindness, kidney failure, stroke, never be able to have children, and die by age 30. I honor them for not focusing on those negatives but encouraging me to learn to manage and deal with diabetes.
Having worked in diabetes care and education for 38 years, and now having a family full of both types of diabetes, I have learned that diabetes is a very different challenge for each of us. It combines with our different personalities, circumstances and other medical conditions in unique ways. It can cause horrible short- and long-term problems.
Diabetes management reminds me of Churchill’s statement: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” None of us are anywhere near perfect in our diabetes self-management. Yet, we are blessed by the fact that, unlike so many health conditions, we can have a large degree of control and good health if we keep trying, learning from our mistakes and doing better. And now, when diabetes complications do occur, we have treatments that allow longer quality lives.
Sometime, I would love to share my entertaining, disgusting, sad, scary and inspiring diabetes memories with others. There are also many specific advances in diabetes I would love to share, as well as greater hopes for control and cure coming our way. However, I think the more important message for our community today is that, unlike any time before, we have the resources we need to remain or become healthy with diabetes. I want to thank the healthcare providers and workers in our community who have become better at helping those of us with diabetes manage our condition. I have seen amazing progress in the 17 years I have been working and living here.
Along with my invitation to join our celebration, I encourage all citizens to discuss their diabetes, or risk for diabetes, with their healthcare providers, and to work harder to prevent/delay Type 2 diabetes. If you are struggling with diabetes, don’t feel defeated and don’t think poor diabetes control is a sign that you are a bad or incapable person. But do know improved control will result in long-term health benefits — and teach you a few things about life too.
Please find a way to support yourself and other family and friends in fighting this fight. Ask for access to the resources you need. They are likely available. You can always contact me — a crazy, healthy woman with diabetes, mother of five, grandmother of 11, and supported by an amazing husband, family, friends, and healthcare providers — for any suggestions that might help at 435-840-0299.
Eileen DeLeeuw, MS, RD, CDE is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with Real Life Diabetes. She practices diabetes self-management training with the Birch Family Pharmacy American Association of Diabetes Educators and at Advanced Practice Medical Clinic.