At 23 my world changed. Read on to learn about my diagnosis, my approach to staying healthy and how Diabetes Can Break Your Heart is making a difference in educating everyone!
Disclosure: This post was sponsored as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
My Diagnosis at 23
When I was just 23, I walked into my doctors office, thinking that I just needed some vitamins, a meal plan or heck even a pregnancy test to help with the extreme fatigue, weight gain, massive thirst and these darn cold feet and hands. I walked out of that office with a negative pregnancy test, a cotton ball and medical tape and a little lighter on blood, awaiting a full blood panel. 3 days later, I got a call from my doctors office.
I was 23, I weighed 160 lbs on a 5’5” frame, I was constantly hungry but ALWAYS tired and I was diabetic. To be specific, I was a type 2 diabetic and I was about to make some lifestyle changes. It was a whirlwind and the diagnosis came at a time in our lives where EVERYTHING was out of control. I was about to start my first year teaching, my mother-in-law passed just a couple weeks after my diagnosis, then a week later we found out we were expecting our son. Life wasn’t easy.
Managing Type 2 Diabetes
When I was first diagnosed, even through all the chaos and changes and morning sickness, I really tried to follow my nutritionists, diabetic counselor and doctors advice when it came to eating and managing my blood sugar. I tested my blood sugar regularly, I ate on a schedule, I counted carbs like a mad man and I took my medications religiously.
10 years after my diagnosis, I am much less regimented and more aware of my body and how it reacts. I am by no means a perfect diabetic and I will be the first to admit that my sweet tooth can be uncontrollable, however, I have made some big gains in the last few years. My A1C went from over 12 to just over 6, which is excellent and has allowed me to lower my medication dose and focus on that diet more.
Using My Diabetes to Educate
I embrace my diabetic diagnosis and I use it as a teaching tool constantly in my classroom. Now, I realize that as a biology teacher, this is pretty easy for me, but I think it makes an impact on these kids when they hear first hand how diabetes can impact your life. I talk about food and metabolism and how our bodies use feedback mechanisms to regulate our insulin and glucagon levels and how my body works different.
I educated them on the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes and the potential genetic connections that may contribute to diagnosis. We talk about treatments, about gene therapy and organ cloning and so much cool science that these kids are experts in diabetes and they keep me accountable too! We also talk about potential negative effects, like heart failure, and how those can impact a person and their prognosis. Education is the first step and I am proud to be an example for my students.
Diabetes Can Break Your Heart
It is no secret that diabetes comes with some serious implications if not addressed. Diabetes Can Break Your Heart is a a national movement that is hoping to change the trajectory of heart failure in type 2 diabetics. It is alarming to know that up to 50% of type 2 diabetics may develop heart failure and there is no cure for it, however there are actions that can be taken to reduce your risk.
Both diabetes and heart failure run in my family, which puts me at a higher risk. AstraZeneca’s is helping to launch the Diabetes Can Break Your Heart initiative which is an immersive virtual reality experience that is designed to heighten awareness of the connection between type 2 diabetes and heart failure. It uses cutting edge technology to bring to life the symptoms of heart failure and to help users learn more about how heart failure is connected to diabetes. Check out the video below to learn more and make sure to head to the website:
References & Notes
Talk to your doctor to understand your risk of heart failure and what immediate actions should be taken. To learn more about the Diabetes Can Break Your Heart movement, visit diabetesheartbreak.com
- American Diabetes Association. 10. Cardiovascular Disease and Risk Management: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2019. Diabetes Care. 2019;42(suppl 1):S103-S112.
- National Institutes of Health. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Heart Failure. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/heart-failure. Last accessed September 16, 2019.
For more information check out the Diabetes Can Break Your Heart website.