Blessed to Be Alive: Mindy's Story

This article was written exclusively for Information About Diabetes by Mindy Fitch. She discusses her initial struggle with type 1 diabetes and how, despite complications, she has learned to look on the bright side.

My life as a type 1 diabetic has been an emotional one. As a child I remember feeling tired, thirsty, grumpy and sick in general. This went on for a long time before my diagnosis. My mom told me I was just lazy and that I should go outside and play.

In 1979, I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 8. Since I did not have good family support as the years went by, my knowledge of the disease was just not present. I grew up eating the wrong foods and pretty much lived in denial until the age of 19, when my life almost came to an end.

I developed diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a condition that occurs when the body cannot use glucose as a fuel source because there is not enough insulin. Fat is used for fuel instead, and byproducts of fat breakdown called ketones build up in the body. Since then, I have learned a lot about diabetes – some of it the hard way.

Dealing with Complications

I don't know from one minute to the next where my blood sugar will be. I use an insulin pump to "control" my diabetes with U-500 insulin – very strong! I take several medications daily and have also had two "frozen shoulder" surgeries in the last six months.

In 2006, I had my great toe on my left foot amputated. Some people may not think that is a big deal, but let me tell you something: I was devastated. A day after surgery the nurse came in my hospital room to unwrap my foot. Looking at my foot that only had four toes was terrifying! I almost passed out from the shock. I never imagined something like that would happen to me. I was too young. WRONG! I just had another toe on the same foot taken off four months ago, and it was not any easier.

Looking on the Bright Side

Yet, through all the problems, I see light at the end of the tunnel. I am blessed to be alive! I get down sometimes and ask, "Why me?" But I believe I have a purpose in life. I am not exactly sure what it is yet, but if I can encourage someone or give words of comfort then I feel my life has meaning.

I am the proud mother of a 21-year-old daughter, who is married and expecting her first child in 2014. I also have a wonderful husband of 17 years, and he is a type 2 diabetic. So I guess you can say things are pretty sweet in my house!

Just take life day by day. Diabetes is no joke! Support from family and friends makes a big difference, folks. Knowledge is power also, so get educated on diabetes because it just may save your life.

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