Introducing Myself — Life With Type 1 Diabetes

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Introducing Myself — Life With Type 1 Diabetes

Welcome to my blog! I’m looking forward to reconnecting with the diabetes community after an absence. After several years writing books, articles, columns, and blogs about living with diabetes, I quit. As much as I’d gained from my research professionally and emotionally, I felt like I was spending all of my time thinking and writing about diabetes. As we all know, diabetes is a 24/7 job. We don’t ever get to take a break, and I was burnt out. I couldn’t take a break from living with diabetes, so I took a break from writing about diabetes. Instead, I wrote about art and parenting and reading, and I observed the diabetes community from afar. But then I got lonely.

Living with diabetes is isolating, and during the pre-Internet years (I was diagnosed in 1985 at 14 years old), I felt like I was the only one struggling with high and low blood sugars, doctor appointments, injections, and a restricted diet. Over the years, I struggled to find answers to questions such as: How do I tell my friends that I have diabetes? Or, how do I manage my blood sugar at college when I’m staying up all hours of the night? Or, how do I manage my blood sugar when training for a marathon? And eventually, I needed to know how to prepare for marriage and a healthy pregnancy. Each phase of my life introduced a new set of questions, and I was desperate for answers. My doctor was brilliant and kind, but he did not have diabetes. I wanted to talk to someone who understood what it was like to live with diabetes, but I didn’t know where to find this person. Magazines were geared toward people with Type 2, and the books about Type 1 diabetes were scarce.

I’d dreamed of writing a book ever since I could read. I’d learned early on that a good story could transport me from the lonely woods of Vermont to a place where a girl named Margaret pumped her arms to make her breasts grow and had private conversations with God. A good story could transport me to Walnut Grove and the adventures of sisters Mary and Laura. A good story could also answer questions. So I decided to write a book about living with diabetes that would include a collection of voices from women with diabetes. I began my search and one by one discovered a community of women who were managing the struggles and triumphs of life with diabetes. Women like Jennifer Ahn who said she was “pretty open” about having diabetes when it came to dating. “I usually would let them know about my diabetes prior to meeting. If it was a blind date, however, I would refrain from telling them until it looked like it was going well.” Or women like Stella Biggs who said most of her friends and family had no idea about diabetes when she was diagnosed at 16 years old. “I didn’t tell everyone. I think I was in denial for a long time. I still wanted to be able to go to Dairy Queen with my friends and eat a Blizzard after school.”

I recorded their stories in my books, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Diabetes: Authentic Advice on Everything from Eating to Dating and Motherhood and The Smart Woman’s Guide to Eating Right with Diabetes: What Will Work. I discovered so many stories while I worked on my books that for the first time since I was diagnosed, I didn’t feel alone. The hole that had been inside of me since I was 14 was finally filled. These women were different from me in age and personality; they lived in different parts of the country and were athletes, doctors, educators, and mothers; they were married, single and widowed; but they all shared one thing — diabetes.

That’s why I’m honored to be a part of the Diabetes Self-Management blogging community. In my blog I will continue to ask questions about things like exercise, pregnancy, depression, marriage, and menopause, and I will share my answers. I hope reading my stories will help you feel inspired, informed, and less alone.

How can guava tea help with your diabetes control? Bookmark and tune in tomorrow to find out from nurse David Spero.

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