As I reflect on November being National Diabetes Awareness Month, I can recall my first encounter with diabetes. I remember visiting my grandparents in Thomasville, and my grandfather would take his insulin before meals. I was rather young, curious and had really no true understanding of Diabetes! Being inquisitive, I asked to see his diabetes medicine. In his study, he had his insulin vial and syringes sitting on top of the table. Upon seeing them, I was alarmed and scared due to my fear of my needles. I wondered how someone is able to inject themselves multiple times a day-everyday- for the rest of their life!!!
Fast forward 15 years when I began to learn about diabetes in pharmacy school – I must admit that it was much less personal and rather academic in nature (absorbing information to pass the test rather than truly understanding it). Not until after pharmacy school did I get up close and personal with diabetes again. I worked with a national diabetes foundation project in which I trained pharmacists to serve as diabetes coaches for employees with diabetes of a large employer in central Georgia. In this role, I also served as a diabetes coach myself. I got to know Barbara really well in this process as we were paired to work together. We met at the local track to walk on several occasions and talk through her challenges in living with diabetes. I really began to understand what it is like to live with diabetes as I developed more of these one on one relationships and provided support.
I am like many folks who struggle with weight management and healthy eating challenges. I have had prediabetes off and on for the last several years. My inspiration to stay on track (and get back on track at times) comes from the people with diabetes that I work with day in and day out. I feel the pain and struggle and yet, I also bask in the joy of the achievements along the way that I experience walking side by side with each person with diabetes. Most recently, I recall the experience of joy as Billy lowered his hemoglobin A1c down from over 10% to 7% (a few tears were shed along the way) and an older person with diabetes finally getting the personal CGM that is compatible with their iphone. Yet, I also recall the frustration of another individual not understanding why their glucose is running 300 – 500 mg/dL after being consistently at or below 150 mg/dL (many tears were shed). My professional calling is to work alongside persons living with diabetes and educating learners about the whole person approach to managing and caring for the person living with diabetes. I honor each person living with diabetes as they face the daily challenges and victories along the way. I am inspired by each of you.