November is Diabetes Awareness Month, and there is really no better time to introduce you to a true warrior. Today, I want to introduce you to someone I have had the honor to get to know for a little over a year now.
The first day she came to Mama Beast Boot Camp, she was a little shy, a bit apprehensive and not quite sure what to think of class and this crazy instructor (me). She came at the insistence of a friend of hers (and longtime client/friend of mine), and she didn't have high expectations. That day, though, was the start of something amazing! Not only did she continue to come back, but, over the next year, I got to watch her become the strongest version of herself! Deborah started out as a client, but she is now a dear friend. A friend who inspires me every day. I've seen her go through highs and lows, but through it all, she's been resilient, strong and never complains about the hand life dealt her. Instead, she took a life altering diagnosis and turned it into an incredibly inspiring journey. Catch her at a Mama Beast Boot Camp class, and she'll inspire you too! The following is her story, in her own words.
"Diabetes is NOT a limitation, it is NOT a death sentence, it does NOT make you less attractive, and it DEFINITELY does not mean you ate too much cake!! Diabetes IS a full time job, it IS an emotional and sometimes physical rollercoaster, and it can be downright frustrating and HARD. But, diabetes has truly helped me realize just how beautiful and strong I am!
I was first diagnosed with what the doctor thought was Type 2 diabetes when I was 22. I remember crying the day I bought a glucose monitor. Little did I know, the first 5 years would be considered "easy" compared to what came next. Straight away, I brought my A1C down to 6.5 from the 10 it was at diagnosis. I learned to live a no carb lifestyle and got used to it. Fast forward 5 years, I suddenly lost a lot of weight. I thought it was due to the long, toxic relationship I had just ended, but as it turns out, the stress of that relationship finally brought on what was always there: Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA). At 27 I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.
LADA seemed very mysterious to me, yet I felt better equipped than when I got my Type 2 diagnosis. Fortunately, I was in a new relationship with my now-husband, Will, and he was so supportive as we embarked on this new, mysterious journey together. I was immediately put on insulin injections before every meal and at bedtime. What I wasn't prepared for were the extreme highs and extreme lows of Type 1 diabetes. Some nights we stayed up most of the night to make sure my persistent low blood sugar didn't let me slip into a diabetic coma or my persistent high blood sugar didn't send me into diabetic ketoacidosis. Will and I learned all we could from doctors and nurses in order to keep me healthy and thriving. Like having a baby, diabetes takes a village too! Speaking of babies...
After about a year of injections, I decided to get a Dexcom Continuous Glucose Monitor and an Omnipod Insulin Pump. These devices were game changers! My A1C was better than ever and things were going well! We travelled a lot that year and always made sure to have a sugary drink on hand! Soon after that, we got engaged and on September 8, 2018 we got married...Will knew he wasn't just marrying me, he was marrying Dexcom, Omnipod, sleepless nights, hot feet, raging hunger, and some mood swings....all the things that diabetics understand :-). Naturally, after we got married we started talking about starting a family and all the implications that came with a diabetic pregnancy. At this point in my journey I felt strong, like I could conquer anything and I was ready for this. We found out we were pregnant in January 2020. As we all remember, 2020 was a rough year for everyone. A diabetic pregnancy during a worldwide pandemic was even more high risk, isolating, and scary. Despite and appendectomy at 3 months pregnant, I passed this test with flying colors! Our daughter, Avery, was born in September 2020 a BIG, healthy girl. We thought we did it, we thought we made it through one of the most challenging times in our life...
While still in the hospital recovering from a C-section, my emotions got the best of me. Despite having a beautiful baby girl, I was sad, devastated, I wasn't ME anymore. I kept asking doctors, nurses, family, and friends if this was normal and everyone said it was. But I could not shake this feeling of immediate devastation. We came home from the hospital and all I did was cry that first day. I would look at Avery and think about how much of a monster I must be for not being a natural mom from the start. I cried as I tried to nurse her in the middle of the first night. As far as I was concerned, life felt like it was over. Turns out, my life almost ended twice in the week following Avery's birth. On our first night home, I didn't feel well. I had trouble breathing but thought it was related to the C-section. Long story short, Will insisted I go to the ER that night. I resisted, but ultimately I went, and I cried as I watched my husband and 4 day old baby drive away from the ER. They could not stay with me due to Covid. I had multiple tests done and they thought I was in heart failure. My lungs had filled with fluid and my heart rate was low while my blood pressure was high. I wanted to check myself out of the ER that night to be home with Will and Avery. If I did this I would not have made it through the night. I stayed in the hospital for 2 days and was diagnosed with Postpartum Eclampsia. I was unaware that diabetics were at an increased risk of preeclampsia. It got so severe that I was lucky to be alive. But it didn't stop there.....after being home for about 8 hours I started to hemorrhage. This was one of the scariest experiences of my life. Again, Will rushed me back to the ER where I was told by a nurse that they would do everything they could to save me. I had a procedure done to stop the bleeding and I stayed in the hospital another day. When I was finally home, I was tired and weak. I lost my milk supply and I was still extremely depressed. About 2 months later while driving in the car with Avery I sobbed. I thought to myself that nobody needed me anymore and I'd be better off gone and they would be better off without me. Luckily, as soon as I got home I reached out to my doctor for help.
Through all of this diabetes was in the background! Dexcom and pump changes in the hospital, strange low carb hospital food that actually RAISED my blood sugar, fluctuating blood sugar readings because of medication, rigorous tests, and post-pregnancy hormones, and realizing that nurses aren't familiar with diabetes and you have to be your own advocate. It made things slightly more difficult, but in the big picture diabetes was the least of my worries at that point!
Today, I feel like a diabetic warrior while juggling life with a 3 year old! Exercise was always a little scary to me, but I have been exercising regularly for over a year now and I feel stronger than ever! While my highs and lows and frustrations still happen, my A1C is very predictable and I know how to navigate life living with diabetes. It's still a full time job and it always will be, but with your village and your own determination, you can conquer diabetes no matter what might get in your way!"
“Sometimes the strongest among us are the ones who smile through silent pain, cry behind closed doors, and fight battles nobody knows about. – Unknown Author.”
National Diabetes Month 2023 is an annual observance dedicated to raising awareness about diabetes, a chronic health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. This campaign aims to educate the public about the different types of diabetes, risk factors, prevention strategies, and the importance of early detection and management. National Diabetes Month also serves as a platform to support individuals living with diabetes, their families, and healthcare providers in their efforts to control the disease and improve overall health.The American Diabetes Association is leading the charge through research, education, and advocacy. Learn more at https://diabetes.org/adm