It happened in the blink of an eye—just two months earlier I had graduated from Indiana University with a degree in special education. I had a teaching job lined up that I began immediately after graduation and an apartment to crash at in the city. Everything was coming together exactly how any 20-something in Chicago would have hoped.
My general lifestyle was a healthy one. I watched what I ate and exercised daily. Although my family had a history of diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, it wasn’t something that I was ever worried about. In my mind I ran, I ate salads, I stayed thin… why would diabetes ever cross my mind?
Shortly after graduation I found myself tired all the time. I chalked it up to working a new job. At the time, I had just started as a middle school teacher for a classroom of boys with behavioral disorders—which could exhaust anyone. I kept telling myself I just needed to get used to it, but as the days passed it continued to get worse.
Then the dry mouth started in… No matter what I did, I could not quench the unbelievable thirst. I tried everything from using different mouthwash, to drinking coconut water, to eating watermelon. While some of these things provided temporary relief, the dreaded sandpaper tongue continued to come back.
It wasn’t until I went to a prompt care for a sinus infection in early August of 2011 that the word diabetes even surfaced. The nurse practitioner listened carefully to my symptoms and mentioned that I may want to get tested for it, I laughed it off. Diabetes? I’m not old and I’m not fat—how could I possibly have diabetes? The funny thing is, it’s this same reaction I received from many friends and family after my initial diagnosis… “But you’re not overweight?!”
And yet, just a week later I found myself at my pediatrician’s office after work one day. A simple test showed large ketones in my system, and a finger prick revealed a sugar level in the 600’s. The doctor who had been caring for me since I was just days old told me with tears in his eyes that I needed to call my mom to come take me to the hospital. He would call ahead and arrange for me to see a trusted colleague of his, but it was as simple as that.
What would have logically come after the sentence written above is: I was diabetic. But I refuse to characterize myself this way. I am so much more than this – I am proud to say that while I did stand and cry over soup in the canned foods aisle, that was the last time I shed a tear over diabetes. After that day in the grocery store, I took every opportunity to maintain normalcy in my life. While I am an excellent carb counter these days, I have still found that I can be an adventure seeking, risk taking, grab-life-by-the-balls foodie… and I could not be more excited to share this adventure with you!
So now, I invite you to join me as I explore the ups and downs of being a diabetic foodie.
I guess there is one more thing you should know about me —I am FALL OBSESSED! From pumpkin spice, to the colors outside, to all of the available produce at the farmer's markets. While I am still trying to perfect a diabetic friendly pumpkin bread, I love using all the seasonal veggies available at the late summer farmers markets around here to create salads, soups, casseroles, and even a few low-carb pasta recipes! I'll be sharing those recipes soon, so stay tuned for some goodies on the blog!