Coping With Diabetes
Last updated: April 2022
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs because the body is unable to use blood sugar (glucose) properly. The exact cause of this malfunction is unknown, but genetic and environmental factors play a part. Risk factors for diabetes include obesity and high levels of cholesterol. Diabetes affects your heart and your whole circulation. That includes small blood vessels in your kidneys, eyes, and nerves, and the big ones that feed your heart and brain and keep you alive. The damage starts with high blood sugar (glucose) and insulin levels.
In my case, I became a diabetic after my heart transplant. In the beginning, adjusting was a challenge for me. I had been so used to heart disease and having good control over it as far as knowing my body, my symptoms, my medication, and my routine.
When it came to diabetes, it blindsided me. It was more of a roller coaster compared to heart disease. Yes, it's all my opinion, experience, and point of view. When I was transplanted I was taking over 20 medications and having to inject myself with insulin was extremely overwhelming. Before I received my heart transplant, my doctor at the time informed me that I would become a diabetic and I said 'okay' with no understanding as to what was to come.
Don't get me wrong, some people master the whole diabetes thing as far as injecting insulin, taking the medication, diet, and checking their blood sugar levels. As for me, it was interesting on another level. I had the option of both the pen needle and the syringe. I couldn't figure out how to work either. I laugh when I say that because when I finally learned how to use it, it was so simple.
Changed my life
Diabetes changed my life. This was a disease that I just couldn't accept because felt like I was a diabetic by default because of my heart transplant and I just knew after I came off my steroids that my diabetes would go away. In some cases, it does which I thought would be mine but it wasn’t. It's been 5 years since my diagnosis and I still struggle with it. I've found the following things to be very helpful in my journey:
- Finding balance
- Visualizing my future
- Build and maintain strong relationships
- Eating well
The one that did it for me was visualizing my future. I always wondered if I would have a future now dealing with heart disease and diabetes. Trying to understand how it affects me, how to live with them both and manage them both while living a productive life and for me that wasn't always easy. After 5 years I’m finally getting the hang of things.
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