Over 34 million Americans have diabetes. So, imagine your whole family being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, this is my reality. When I was a young child, I heard my grandmother talking about having diabetes. It was a conversation in passing, but the disease had many effects on her health.
In the ’80s, many people weren’t managing their diabetes and it was often treated as a “dirty little secret.” Many people had it, but no one wanted to talk about it. I remember when my grandmother was having issues with her foot. It started out as a cut.
Unfortunately, she didn’t monitor her foot injury or go to the doctor to get it checked out. Her foot began to turn black and purple, and we had to rush her to the hospital.
We found out she had gangrene, which happens when tissues in your body die after a loss of blood caused by illness, injury, or infection. Unfortunately, the doctor said they needed to amputate her foot because it was beyond repair.
My grandmother didn’t want her foot amputated. The doctor said if she didn’t get the surgery, the infection would spread and could cause death. She took too long deciding to get her foot amputated and ultimately had to get part of her leg amputated. She was never the same after that.
Years later, my mother, sisters, niece, aunts, cousins, dad, and I were all diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. As a family with type 2 diabetes, we went through so many trials and tribulations individually and together.
My mom found out she had diabetes when she felt sick while working one day. She had to go to the emergency room, and they told her that her blood sugar was over 400. This was extremely serious because when your blood sugar is that high, you to go into a coma and die.
My mom was devastated and knew she had to turn this around, but it wasn't easy. She was put on insulin and several other medications to help her to begin managing her diabetes. As a diabetic, you will have some highs and some lows. Some days and weeks, you’ll be doing great, and sometimes you’ll be doing terrible with managing your diabetes.
Although she had it, it wasn’t something that was regularly talked about at home. It was just a way of life, and she dealt with it. My younger sister would develop diabetes next.
It started to feel like this disease was picking us off, one by one. One of the misconceptions of diabetes is that you get it because you are fat or eat too much sugar. While some of those reasons can increase your chances of getting it, those aren’t the only reasons for a family having diabetes.
Next, when I was pregnant with my son, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. However, after my son was born, it didn’t go away, and I was told I had type 2 diabetes. I was in denial for about 2 years, because I was still waiting for the doctor to say it was going to go away after my son was born. In my mind, it just hadn’t happened yet!
It really hit home when my 12-year-old niece developed diabetes. This was another devastating blow to our family. That’s when we realized that this was not going to go away, and we had to take action.
After doing research on diabetes, I found the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and learned so much about the disease and the huge support network of people who were just like me and my family. I took a course on how to manage diabetes and took training on how to teach others to manage it.
This was so enlightening because I felt I had support. I knew more about the disease, and I was now in a space where I was willing to learn, accept, and share my diabetes journey. I began sharing this information with my friends and family. I became an ambassador for the American Diabetes Association. My family, friends, and I began doing the 3K and 5K diabetes walks because we wanted people to know they’re not alone and we’re all in this together.
Later, I started teaching diabetes workshops, speaking at conferences, and developed a TV talk show called The Impact with Robin Dorsey. I often feature shows about diabetes. This is a part of my family and my life. We realized it was hard doing it alone, but with all of us in this together, we can concur and do this together.
I want you to know, diabetes doesn’t generally go away overnight. But you can live a normal life and overcome the challenges of diabetes by taking the first step in acknowledging you have it, seeking information to help you manage it, and working with your health care team to keep you on track.
You won’t always have bad days or good days in managing your diabetes. Always remember to take one day at a time. If your blood sugar is high one day, take a moment, seek help, don’t beat yourself up, and then get back on track!
You can do this. Start today, and choose to live by managing your diabetes.
Photo Credit: CandyRetriever / iStock via Getty Images
Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.
Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.