Put Your Diabetes In Its Place
Hi. My name is Janet Goodman and I’m a psychologist with type 1 diabetes. I’m excited because this is my first blog. So let me tell you my story. It may sound somewhat familiar to some of you. Life was going along quite well. My 3 kids and their spouses are happy adults; I have 5 grandboys; I love my work and my husband (not necessarily in that order!), and I have just enough good friends. Then one morning, when I was 61, my pancreas sent me a message. It said, “I quit.” Well, I didn’t exactly hear those words (lest you try to diagnose me!) but I did have blurry vision, excessive thirst, and some weight loss. So the doctor sent me for a fasting blood test: my A1c at diagnosis was 9.7 and my fasting glucose level was 300. I didn’t know what any of that meant, but I knew it wasn’t good because the doctor made an appointment for me the very next day.
At that appointment, the P.A. gave me my insulin pen, my meter, my lancet, my test strips, a chart telling me how much insulin to take based on my numbers, yada, yada, yada, and showed me how to give myself a shot. She might have said more but I don’t recall anything else. I left that office shocked, dazed, confused, scared, upset, anxious, depressed, worried. Not good for a psychologist! I had no clue how much my life would change. I did know two things about diabetes: how to spell it and that it was a bad thing to have. Plus, I was sure I was way too old to have juvenile diabetes. Was I wrong! Ugh! Now what.
Scared and upset, I went to the bookstore to begin educating myself. I saw there were books on type 1 and type 2 and I bought them all since I didn’t know what I had. I read them all. Then I decided I needed more help. I found an endocrinologist who became my best friend quite quickly. (I doubt I was his best friend!) For his support, time, energy, answering my endless questions, helping me learn, helping me calm down-I will be forever grateful. He diagnosed me with type 1. Finally, I only had to read half the books I bought! Too late! He helped me bring my A1c down to 6.0. His greatest contribution to my life: helping me see diabetes as a challenge to manage rather than a chronic disease to be feared.
I learned the value of a good medical support team. Many of you already know this. But if you don’t like your team, or you’re not getting the help you want or need, change your team.
Now I had a team, but I still had a dilemma. Now I had all of these diabetes supplies to carry around and nothing decent to carry them in. Medical bags were out-no way was I using those. And big purses were a search and rescue mission. I learned quickly that I couldn’t find test strips or snacks quickly enough when I am low after they had fallen to the bottom of the bag. I was still quite upset about the diagnosis but I figured I could go online to find something cool. Nothing. As a psychologist, my work involves helping people feel better. I had to find a way to make myself feel better. In desperation, since I know how to sew, I decided to make myself my own diabetes carryall-one with style, fun, and function. After several tries, the yadaBag was born. I found that it actually did lift my mood. A cool bag with fun lining and places for all my diabetes items, where I could find them easily when I needed them. Others liked it too, so here I am.
So this is my plan for my blog. As I write, you’ll get to know me better. I want to bring diabetes out into the open. I want to educate people without diabetes as to what it’s like, what to ask, what not to ask. I also want to help those of us with diabetes figure out how to respond to others when they are clueless or nagging. We can talk about attitudes; life views; coping; problems; helpful (or not) friends, family, and spouses; depression; anxiety; being a pancreas; not being perfect: ups and downs (mood and numbers); daily life; exercise; research; hope: my head is swimming with ideas. I am an advocate for all of us with diabetes, and I am an advocate for all of us to have a good life, to stand up for what we believe, to take care of ourselves and put ourselves first when we need to, so we can be healthy and live a good life.
Put Your Diabetes In Its Place is about managing a sometimes unmanageable disease but not being ruled by it. Being in charge of our own lives (even though that sneaky little pancreas that quit does take charge now and then) and living our lives to the fullest.