In 2009, my husband and I received disturbing news. My 27-year-old husband was diagnosed with Type II diabetes.
Also known as adult-onset diabetes, it usually occurs in adults who generally are making poor eating choices and/or poor exercise choices. It didn’t seem to be a stretch that Kyle would be diagnosed with the disease. He was overweight, he ate way too many carbs, and he had no concern with exercise. We were very distraught by the diagnosis, but it didn’t come as a great surprise.
However, a year later my 6-foot-1 husband had lost 100 pounds and looked like he was anemic. We had people asking us on a regular basis if he was sick because he looked so thin. Even though he was that skinny, his blood sugar was out of control. He would have to exercise for an hour a day plus eat absolutely no carbs to have a somewhat normal blood sugar.
Something clearly was wrong.
We all have defining moments in our lives, moments that come that change the course of our lifespan. For us, it was hearing that Kyle actually had juvenile diabetes, or Type I diabetes. With Type I diabetes, a person’s body just doesn’t produce insulin – that’s why Kyle kept losing so much weight but couldn’t control his blood sugar. His body wasn’t reacting properly because he was thought to be a Type II diabetic, which has a different treatment.
That was the start of our “new normal.” Before, with both of us being in our early 20s and both of us being healthy, we didn’t care what we ate or how little we exercised. With his diagnosis and with our plans of having children in the near future, we suddenly had to take a sober look at how we were treating our bodies.
Our lives took a turn that year. I started regularly exercising for the first time since high school, and I watched as the weight seemed to evaporate. After all, I was in my mid-20s, and I had a pretty high metabolism still. But starting that healthy habit then helped me continue it on throughout that decade and into my 30s.
Kyle quickly got his blood sugar under control. He became a great diabetic patient, keeping records, watching what he ate, and understanding when and how much insulin to give himself. Within a year, he ordered a diabetic pump, which is attached to his body and makes his life so much simpler. He also has a sensor, which tracks his blood sugar to make sure he’s not going too high or too low. Technology has come a long way for diabetics, even in the last 10 years, and it’s helped Kyle maintain normalcy in his life.
Kyle also started making strides to eat better and to exercise. He tried running, but he just hated it – or, that is, he hated the way I ran. I run with a group, with music, or on the treadmill. It just didn’t work for Kyle to run like that. Music didn’t distract him enough. The treadmill was too boring. And he didn’t like trying to have a conversation with someone while running. It took years, probably because we both assumed that I knew the best way to run (and let’s remember what you get when you assume…), but he finally found his running niche: podcasts.
Now, I can’t get him off the roads. He loves running in the dark, which I abhor. He loves listening to podcasts; they can’t hold my interest while running. But it works for him, and he is now a regular runner.
His eating habits have changed, too. He used to brag about how much food he could eat – and he still jokes sometimes when he has a big meal, “I could finish everything on this plate…but I shouldn’t.”
His life now consists of regularly checking his blood sugar, taking insulin, and watching when he runs to make sure he doesn’t have a low blood sugar and pass out. It’s a normal that neither of us ever wanted to have, but it’s one to which we’ve adjusted.
Diabetes is a pain in the rear. But we look back at it now, and we see how far we’ve come, health-wise, for both of us. It woke both of us up about how we were eating and how little we were exercising, and it made us remember that our bodies are not made to gorge ourselves on sweet treats and fried foods. Don’t get me wrong; we definitely still indulge every now and then, but it’s an actual treat instead of the norm.