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Living with diabetes

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and hits very close to home for me. Thirty-two years ago I was diagnosed with Type 1, or insulin-dependent diabetes.

I remember being sick for some time - sleeping a lot and not wanting to get out of bed, and always being thirsty even after drinking all the water I could hold. My mother was constantly taking me to the doctor, each time returning with a different diagnosis and treatment plan. Thankfully, advancements have been made over the years in diabetes research and treatment.

Simply put, diabetes results when the body cannot produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by cells in the pancreas that convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes is still unknown, but genetics and environmental factors (obesity, lack of exercise, etc.) appear to play a role in its development. Although in my case, I am the only person in my family who has been blessed with the disease, and I have not ever been obese, (unless you count the third trimester of pregnancy.)

Symptoms of diabetes include excessive thirst and frequent urination. Reflecting on my childhood, my mother always makes the statement that "we knew where every bathroom in the city of Augusta was located before you were correctly diagnosed." Other symptoms include: extreme hunger, unusual weight loss, increased fatigue, irritability and blurry vision.

While I wouldn't wish the disease on anyone, I am happy to report that it is a "livable" disease to have. There also are many treatment options. In my diabetic lifetime, I have taken many different insulin regimens and have been equipped with an insulin pump.

Speaking of obesity and control, I have a frustrating revelation to make. Before working at The Mirror, I was a freelance writer working out of my home. While my number of articles each week has not changed too much, my lifestyle changed drastically. As a freelancer, I did interviews over the phone, and then rode bicycles around the block with my kids. I typed out a few paragraphs on my computer, then vacuumed my house, did some research, then walked the dog …you get the point. My time sitting at my desk was balanced with time in motion on my feet.

Now, I munch at my desk, write a few paragraphs, dash to my car, sit and perform an interview after which I'm invited to enjoy some delicious dining found only in Thomson.

We won't talk about obesity, but figuring the average rate I'm gaining, it's only two years away. But that's another subject for another column on another day.

To find out more about diabetes, or if you are at risk for developing diabetes, the American Diabetes Association has an online test at

Web posted on Thursday, November 3, 2005


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