The Warrior Way
I grew up hearing about diabetes from family members who had been diagnosed with it. Some relatives described it as “having the sugar.” Others said it came from eating too much candy and too many desserts.
I knew I would get it because of my family history. My paternal grandfather and my favorite uncle had it. One of my aunts was diagnosed with it in her late 50s.
When diabetes came, it arrived with a vengeance. My husband and I had just approached a rental car booth in Rapid City, South Dakota, when suddenly I realized that my mouth had gone absolutely dry.
Extreme thirst, frequent trips to the restroom, and total exhaustion competed with the excitement of taking part in my undergrad college’s annual homecoming activities and receiving my school’s Alumni Special Achievement Award for empowering women and girls through my books.
Unbeknownst to me, throughout the weekend my blood glucose was creeping steadily upward. We returned home to Atlanta, and I was rushed to the emergency room. Later, the doctor told me I was lucky I wasn’t in a coma—or worse.
It took four days for my blood glucose to reach a safe range and for my vision to clear. Then I received my diagnosis: type 2 diabetes. I was 59. Afterward, I hosted a pity party for one—complete with a party hat. Then I got busy learning to adjust to my new normal.
Yes, there is such a thing as “having too much sugar.” What I learned, though, was exactly what that means for my body. I discovered that diabetes affects the pancreas and other organs in the body, including the eyes, heart, nerves, and kidneys. I also learned that a girl who hates needles can inject herself without passing out.
I view diabetes as just another challenge to face—and conquer. Like six weeks of military basic training, where I was on my hands and knees cleaning the grout between restroom tiles (with a toothbrush, no less), diabetes is tough and messy and pretty tiring. But it’s manageable. You see, warriors fight. We also win.
Carol Gee, MA, is a retired Air Force veteran, former educator, and author of Random Notes: About Life, “Stuff” and Finally Learning to Exhale and Gilded Pearls: Vibrant Thoughts, Tips and Tidbits For a Full Life. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband, traveling, decorating, and doing crafts. She lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia.
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