Contributor: Kathryn Gentile, ACSM-CEP, EIM level II, CPT, CSN, DCES
My mom learned she had diabetes before I was born. She was diagnosed after giving birth to my older brother. In addition to living with this disease for several decades, my mom also lives with complications from diabetes. She is legally blind and has had a heart attack and multiple strokes that worsened her remaining vision. She also experiences severe pain from neuropathy.
Throughout my childhood, I don't remember seeing my mom doing things related to her diabetes. I sometimes saw her give herself insulin injections. I don't remember seeing her check her blood sugar in front of us kids. I remember an ambulance was called several times when she needed help with severe low blood sugar.
I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was 12. After my diagnosis, I realized how much work it takes for my blood sugar to be in the recommended target range for a long time. Why was it so hard for me when my mom hadn't seemed to give it much thought?
When I asked my mom about diabetes management during that time, she said that her A1c was pretty high. I realized that diabetes management was not her top priority other than when she was pregnant with me – then, she was vigilant about her blood glucose.
My mom and I share her story because it's important to talk about diabetes complications. It's important to know about the symptoms so that complications can be diagnosed and treated early. And it's important to seek help (from health care providers, certified diabetes care and education specialists, and our peers with diabetes) if we feel overwhelmed by diabetes management or are diagnosed with one or more complications.
Diabetes can be challenging for all of us. It's okay not to be able to do it all yourself.
Watching my mom's journey has taught me how important it is to make ourselves, and our health, a top priority. And remember that you have a lot of dSisters supporting you along the way.
A special thank you to Kathryn's mom, who gave permission to share her story.
Kathryn Gentile, ACSM-CEP, EIM level II, CPT, CSN, DCES is an ACSM Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist, Personal Trainer, Sports Nutritionist Coach, and holds a level two Exercise is Medicine credential. She received her Bachelor of Science from Ave Maria University and is currently a Masters student studying Clinical Exercise Physiology at West Chester University of PA. Kathryn works at Integrated Diabetes Services as an Exercise Physiologist and provides one-on-one guidance for patients looking for individualized exercise plans. Connect with Kathryn on Instagram at @kathryngentile, and follow Integrated Diabetes on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.