Diabetes Dialogues

Sharing My Story: Donna

Sharing My Story: Donna

On April 4, 2018, my life took a complete 180-degree turn to rock-bottom status. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Now, you would think this would have come as a complete shock. Deep down, however, I was not surprised. I knew it was coming. For years, in fact, but I was constantly adrift upon the River “Denial”. But, looking back, I was at high-risk for developing the disease. Here are the facts…

First, I was genetically disposed. Type 1 and type 2 was rampant in my family history. My maternal grandfather lost his leg. My maternal aunt died of a leg infection at 9 years old that was masked by diabetic neuropathy.  She, nor her parents, ever saw the infection coming. There was no insulin treatment back in the early part of the 20th century, so she had no chance. Finally, my father developed elderly onset type 2 in his 70’s.

Second, I had developed a life-long eating disorder, starting at around the age of 3 years old, approximately, called Compulsive Emotional Overeating Disorder. This disorder caused me to yo-yo between bingeing and starving, caused me to perceive food as a means of entertainment, not fuel, and, ultimately caused me to balloon to my highest recorded weight of 339 pounds. Along the way, because of the pain and suffering I felt from others through constant bullying and torment, I also developed General Anxiety Disorder and Major Depression Disorder, which perpetuated the eating disorder further.

Third, I developed gestational diabetes with both of my pregnancies. During my pregnancies I was introduced to insulin, daily blood sugar check-ins, and healthier diet programs. After delivery of the placenta on both successful pregnancies, the diabetes magically went away. I was, however, warned to not have a third pregnancy because I would be at a higher risk of the diabetes staying in my body, even after delivery. This was heartbreaking, but, I realized my child-bearing days were over.

Lastly, I developed the classic symptoms of high-blood sugar about a year before my final diagnosis. Excessive thirst, numbness in my toes, blurriness in my left eye, and constant incontinence. I denied all the symptoms, however, thinking that I needed new glasses because I was getting older, or that my new sneakers were too tight, or because I was in the first stages of menopause, naturally I was going to have bladder-control issues! I was also in the process of down-sizing, so, of course I was thirsty… I was working so hard physically!

The day I was diagnosed, I did not feel well. I left work unexpectedly because I was bleeding from the rectal area. I thought I had a bladder infection. I went to the doctor and after numerous blood and urine tests, it turned out my blood sugar was at a shocking 510! Fearing I was set to go into a diabetic coma, my husband was called and he immediately drove me to the ER, where all types of EKG testing was done, HbA1c was checked, and IV fluids were flooded into my body. Luckily, because of the fluids, my blood sugar dropped significantly, into the 200’s. This meant my body was still making its own insulin and my pancreas didn’t crap out on me. My heart and kidneys were normal. My HbA1c, however, was 12.3. Normal range in diabetics is under 5.7, so I was officially diagnosed with type 2. I was promptly put on Metformin, Alpha Lipoic Acid for my toe neuropathy, wished good luck, and was sent home.

Donna C. exercising

That night, after I told my children what had happened, I decided that this disease was an unwelcome visitor in my life. I decided, then and there, I would fight back. So, I did. With the help of a nutritionist, I adopted a low-carbohydrate, low-fat, high-protein meal plan, removed all grain and processed sugar in my diet, and started walking 2-3 miles daily as exercise.

Two years later, I have lost, in total, 185 pounds, eradicated my eating-disorder, removed all medications from my system, including those for anxiety and depression, and brought my diabetes into remission with my last HbA1c staying firmly at 5.5.

Visit Donna's blog, A New Delicious, for more.