Real Patient Stories

A new diagnosis of diabetes can be overwhelming.  Here are some real stories of patients with diabetes and their advice — from one patient to another.

Kellie

  1. How old are you and how long have you had diabetes?
    I am 57 years old and have had diabetes for about 5 years.


  2. What can you tell us about your original diagnosis of diabetes?
    I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes around age 50.  I had gestational diabetes in my 20s and knew that I was at higher risk to develop type 2 diabetes eventually. Around the time of my diagnosis, I “felt funny”, with blurry vision and some confusion.  My mother (who has type 1 diabetes) tested me with her glucose meter and the reading was over 300 mg/dl.  My primary provider then checked labs which confirmed the diagnosis.


  3. Does anyone else in your family have diabetes and what was their experience?
    Both of my maternal grandparents have type 2 diabetes.  My mother had type 1 diabetes from an early age.  I also have several maternal aunts with diabetes.  Some family members died young from complications related to diabetes.  On the other hand, my mother has very good control and minimal complications.


  4. How did that news affect you?
    Initially, I was in denial.  I felt helpless and hopeless.  However, my mother provided a lot of support and as I got used to the lifestyle changes, I felt more “in control” and was able to accept it.  It look a long time to adjust, but now I am much more comfortable with my diagnosis.


  5. What changes have you made to your diet and exercise because of diabetes?
    I have always been someone that walks and keeps busy (I volunteer at an animal shelter). Diet was the largest change. I’ve learned to plan meals better, knowing when and what I’ll eat (in terms of carbs), which I never had to do before.


  6. How has diabetes impacted your everyday life?
    I need to check glucose when I feel “funny”, which can be intrusive.  Now that I’m taking diabetes medications, I have to consider what I eat more closely.  I have to adjust insulin when feeling sick.  Sometimes when I’m not really hungry, I have to eat to avoid hypoglycemia.


  7. What worries you the most about diabetes?
    Heart disease risk is my biggest concern.  A close second is the risk of hypoglycemia, especially if it were to happen when I’m alone.


  8. What do you wish people knew about diabetes?
    It’s a lifestyle change – it impacts every part of your life (medications, meals, etc). If you can realize this earlier on, you’ll get under control much more quickly.


  9. What advice would you give for someone with a new diagnosis of diabetes?
    Learn as much as you can.  Don’t give up: you CAN get in control, but you don’t always see it at first.

 

Carolyn

  1. How old are you and how long have you had diabetes?
    I am 69 years old and have had diabetes for about 5 years.


  2. When were you first told you had diabetes?
    I was first told that I had diabetes in the weeks following a kidney transplant.  They noticed that my glucose levels were elevated when in the hospital and I was formally diagnosed at a clinic visit a week or so later.  I had been seeing doctors regularly my whole life and this was a new diagnosis for me.


  3. What feelings did you have?
    I took it in stride and didn’t get too upset.  I knew that I had to focus on my kidney health and I was determined to get control of the diabetes, as well.


  4. What changes have you made to your diet and exercise because of diabetes?
    I definitely watch what I eat more and try to exercise daily or at least a few times per week.  I used to eat a lot of sweets and starch (for instance, mac and cheese or mashed potatoes), but not anymore.  I try to eat more salads.  This took some effort to “re-program myself”, but I find that now I have lost a taste for those other foods.  I feel much healthier since I made this change.


  5. What advice would you give for someone with a new diagnosis of diabetes?
    You have to control your emotions – because when you’re emotional, control goes down.  Follow the diet that the provider gives you and take their advice.  Be sure to exercise more and always take your medication.


  6. Anything else?
    I was friends with an older woman with diabetes and I kept telling her to watch what she eats.  She didn’t have good control of her diabetes and her sight has deteriorated to the point where she can’t drive.  I used that as a motivation to make the difficult changes to diet and exercise that were needed for me.

*Disclaimer:  These are stock photos and are not photos of actual patients. However, these stories are from real patients seen at The Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Diabetes Center and who have allowed their first names to be used.