Almost 6 years ago at a routine gynecological exam, I had an excessive amount of sugar in my urine. I was immediately admitted to the ER and hospitalized for 5 days with a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. I struggled for a full year, constantly hearing that my A1C wasn't improving because I was noncompliant. When I went for my next annual gyno exam, I was told that there was no way I was Type 2 and that I must be Type 1.
My gynocologist called my endo and demanded he run a test to confirm. The test was completed and I was indeed Type 1. I am so thankful that my gynecologist was diligent and cared enough about me to follow through and made sure I was correctly diagnosed. He didn't just prolong my life - he saved it.
During that time I was stressed, confused, and felt an overwhelming amount of defeat. As I vented to my sister one night, she pulled out her iPad and searched for "support groups for women with diabetes." One came up: DiabetesSisters. Thank God.
My life considerably changed for the better after I attended my first PODS Meetup. I felt understood. Finally. I was surrounded by women living with this disease who were supportive, knowledgable, and sincere.
I have learned so much from my diabetes sisters, much more than I have from the couple of endocrinologists I have seen.
These past 6 years have been an emotional roller coaster ride - full of high blood sugars, low blood sugars, hospital stays, a failed insulin pump and then going into DKA, which landed me in ICU for days.
My dad passed away from leukemia last year and one of the last things he said to me was to take care of my health. I promised I would, but with the depression that followed his death, I fell short. This past year I was presented with the opportunity to become a co-leader of my local PODS meet up. I wasn't sure I was worthy or qualified, since I had such a roller coaster of A1C's, so I initially declined.
But then I thought about the promise I made to my dad that I would take better care of myself, and reconsidered the offer. I thought it might make me more focused if I helped lead a group of women facing the same highs and lows. I thought I might feel more of an obligation to stay on top of my own disease if I were to be answering to others. I am so thankful I ended up accepting this true honor. It has not only given me a purpose but has made me take a look at my own health on a whole new level.
I am now much more excited to learn new things about triumphing over this disease. I am much more proactive instead of being reactive. I feel a sense of responsibility to be positive and a role model to others. Since becoming a PODS co-leader, I have brought down my A1C from 13 to 8. I am finally proud and feel as though I'm making progress. I feel like there is hope and that I can finally handle diabetes. And I feel passionate about passing that strength and supportive positivity on to others!
I had another wonderful opportunity this year: an invitation to attend the DiabetesSisters Leadership Institute. WOW, was it amazing! I felt at home with like-minded women who are facing the same struggles. It was incredible to hear how they are excelling with diabetes. It gave me a renewed hope and excitement. It made me even stronger in my resolve to help others and lift up women with diabetes. I learned so much that I am excited about sharing with my local PODS group. I especially enjoyed learning about how to become more of an advocate for myself and others.
Thank you to the beautiful and wonderful DiabetesSisters for their unwavering support, love and acceptance. Thank you for bringing support to women everywhere living with diabetes. You have truly made a difference in the lives of so many! You are changing us from diabetics to diabetic survivors. No longer are we diabetics - we are now Livabetics!
~ Jen Stanton is a PODS leader in Jacksonville, FL