Most people are surprised when they learn I was “once-upon-a-time” diagnosed with diabetes. They’re surprised for a few reasons, but the most common reaction is this: “wow, you’re so young!” This reaction is sobering to me, because they are assuming that I have type 2 diabetes, instead of type 1, and this indicates that most people know nothing about the disease itself.
It’s becoming more and more apparent to me that diabetes is quite a buzz word these days. We hear it a lot but most people can’t really define what it is. The education just isn’t provided to the masses. If you want a deeper understanding of what diabetes actually is, you can visit my website for an expanded and easy to understand explanation.
But let’s stay focused on the purpose of this blog. When people discover that diabetes is a part of my existence, they want to know how I hide it so well. It’s not that I hide it, it’s just something that rarely takes my attention from the present moment. When I was diagnosed in 2000, it was when I was also in the hospital because of a head trauma accident that resulted in a coma. The incident was a blessing in disguise, because I had no idea that diabetes was residing in my body.
When I woke up from the coma, I had to relearn how to do a lot of things that are easily taken for granted – like formulating cognitive sentences. I also had to learn what it meant to deal with diabetes: taking insulin shots with every meal and before I went to bed, considering how much insulin to take based on the time of day and if I had exercised or not, making sure I had snacks or glucose tablets with me in case of a sudden blood sugar crash, and also learning how to be social at the same time.
Any time I was at a restaurant – I would go to the bathroom to take my shots, because I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. I got over that really quickly.
It was a lot to take on all at the same time, but I chose to TRULY take it on. I do remember when the doctor diagnosed me that I asked him how I could stop taking insulin. He laughed at me and said I’d be on insulin for the rest of my life because there wasn’t a cure. I laughed back at him and said, “Well, I’m not gonna wait for you guys to figure it out!” In that moment, I made it my mission to heal my body and carve my own path.
I refused to ever use an insulin pump, because I knew it would make it too easy for me. I wanted diabetes to be a challenge that I could rise above. I chose to listen to my body and found ways to reduce my insulin and blood sugar levels with exercise and healthy food choices. Instead of eating food to match the amount of insulin my doctors prescribed, I took insulin based on the kind of food I ate, which was/is nourishing and supportive of my health. This allowed my body to lose the 20 lbs. I had gained after my diagnosis, and it also affirmed that I knew how to take the best care of myself.
When you listen to your body’s needs, and you honor what it’s asking for, your body will thank you richly.”
I was dedicated to my health every day and I researched endlessly. I experimented with supplements and whole foods while I KNEW that I was on the right path. Every choice I made was in support of reaching my ultimate goal: to be free of synthetic insulin. I have never passed out from having low, or high, blood sugar. I have never had a diabetic seizure. I have never been hospitalized for a diabetic-related issue. I swam competitively for my college. I’ve completed a marathon. I exercise almost every day and I enjoy dark chocolate when I want.
Most people ask me how I have made it a non-issue, and I always imply that it’s very simple by saying, “I just decided to not be a victim of the disease. It gave me an opportunity to be healthier, and for that, I’m grateful.” A pessimist would consider diabetes to be a disease, but I look at it as something that keeps my body in check. I take insulin without shame, in public, and I carry on. Life goes on, life continues.
No matter what ailment you experience, you can choose to make the best of it and be an advocate. The second you choose to NOT be a victim, that will also be the moment that you won’t be defined by the condition. Everything in life is a choice and you have every amount of power needed to rise above it. If your thoughts are healthy, your body is healthy.
Do you have an ailment that has actually made you stronger? My friend Tricia Huffman has chosen to rise above fibromyalgia and she is grateful who she has become because of her choice. How do you battle what most would view as an unfortunate situation? I love your contribution and comments below!
Love all that is you,
Jenna Phillips is a Total Wellness Philosopher, Certified Holistic Lifestyle Coach, AFAA Certified Personal Trainer & the founder of her lifestyle brand I’m On A Mission. Follow her on Twitter and be inspired.