Meet the Advocates: Shelley's Journey With Diabetes
Our latest 'Meet the Advocates' series includes details about their diabetes diagnosis and management journey. Meet, Shelley!
Tell us about your type 2 diabetes diagnosis
Ten years before my diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, I had a baby (1995). During that pregnancy, I was given the diagnosis of gestational diabetes. I remember being scared for the baby. What a motivator that was to look after my diabetes diagnosis!! My body and I did a great job of managing it and my baby was healthy. When I saw the endocrinologist after my son was born, she advised me to ‘not worry’ about diabetes but to enjoy my baby and live healthy moving forward. I was never unhealthy, but I did carry a couple of extra pounds then and for the ten years following.
My diagnosis of T2D came in November 2005. I had been feeling ‘crappy’, you know, not quite right but not sick enough to stay home, for months. I attributed this to a virus, the flu, or whatever else I could think of. Regardless, I didn’t feel right and was debating whether or not to see the doctor, I had read that it can be ten years before T2D can show itself after having gestational diabetes. I booked an appointment with my PCP. I told him I wondered if I had diabetes. He didn’t question that, he ran the blood work. He did advise me that with diabetes there is often an increased risk for cardiac issues and since we were investigating one, we should investigate both. I agreed. A couple days later, I found out my A1C was 8.3. I had T2D and thankfully, no cardiac issues.
How do you currently manage your type 2 diabetes?
Because I had lived with gestational diabetes, I knew what had to be done generally to manage my diabetes. I knew that I still had to lose those ‘few’ extra pounds I was carrying. OK, ok, it was more than a few. I wasn’t obese but I was overweight. I lost 60 lbs over 18 months. That helped my blood sugars a lot. I started walking a couple times a day to help. As I got older, things changed. It was time for medication. I tried metformin but could not tolerate it. Now my management included expanding my team to include my PCP, endo, and cardiologist. I was referred to a new endo. We made a plan. With my endo, we tried a few combinations of meds to see what would work because diet and exercise were no longer enough on their own. I am so very fortunate that my PCP is very knowledgeable about T2D and meets with me after every endo appointment to go over the plan. My PCP and endo communicate through letters and email.
Currently, I take Jardiance and Trulicity for my diabetes. My cardiologist has me taking a statin and an older cholesterol med as well to ensure with long term diabetes that my heart stays healthy too. I’m on the border for needing a change in diabetes meds as my body doesn’t want to go below an A1C of 7. To be honest, I think I’ve done pretty damn good over 16 years to do what I can within my capacity to deal with my diabetes.
How do you take care of yourself when you feel frustrated, burnt out, or down?
I don’t like diabetes. I don’t know anyone who does. Diabetes is loaded with frustration, and sometimes burnout. I’ve been there with burnout and I hope to prevent myself from ever going back. My self-care starts with reminding myself that I am important enough to put myself first. Then I forgive myself for not being perfect because I’m not. I remind myself of all the good things I have accomplished and all the great things I can do in the future with my health.
I go for at least one longer walk a day with my husband. I love that part. Sometimes, I use mindfulness to re-center myself and relieve some of the stress I feel about my health but admittedly, I’m a work in progress with mindfulness. I don’t do it near enough. I try to laugh as much as I can. As much as there are yucky things associated with T2D, there is a lot to laugh at in life. I try my best to see the humor in things or to at least smile. People spreading love makes me smile. Animals, especially my kitten makes me smile. Smiling and laughing are both good for diabetes.
What is your favorite food?
I have a couple of favorite foods: a very large bone-in skinless chicken breast off the BBQ, and a hot fudge sundae which I don't have often (enough), LOL.
How well does your doctor explain diabetes care terms to you?