The Story of How Diabetes Transformed My Life

Camille LoParrino is a Health Literacy Coach and a former type 2 diabetic. In this two-part personal story of growth and perseverance, Camille describes how her diagnosis turned her life upside down. But she did not let it knock her down; instead, she made the best of every situation.

You have Diabetes! These were the scariest three words I ever heard in my entire life! I had an idea what this meant because I watched the changes my own mother went through two decades beforehand. I was instantly terrified about my own prospects with this condition. Of course, my biggest fear as facing an early death because my mom had died at 63 years of age from the sister condition of diabetes, and that is, she had a heart attack after being submitted to the hospital. Now what? Was I going to repeat history? I called my friends and screamed and cried for hours. They were actually able to calm me down by making me realize that things had changed a lot over the years and there was more information available now on how to deal with diabetes.

The Plan

So I had to make a plan. What should I do? Well, the first thing that came to mind was to quit my job. What could be more stressful than teaching in a New York City public school? Absolutely nothing. So I decided to quit my job, not die on the job, and get well instead. I called in, spoke to my Assistant Principal and told her I could no longer work there. I got a call back from the Principal who asked me to postpone my decision a few months so that I could prepare some of her needy students for the upcoming state reading test. Just knowing I would be leaving the toxic environment of public school helped me to relax and so I told her I would stay until the end of that school year.

The next thing on my agenda was to get a Health Coach to guide me in proper nutrition. I had met someone at my local gym who offered to work with me one-on-one and teach me what to eat, how much to eat, and even when to eat.

Another area of importance on my to do list was to add more days to the times I worked out at the gym. And each day I would go there to work out on the treadmill, and I included stretching and weight lifting activities to my regime.

The Transformation

After two months, I lost ten pounds, and my oral medication was reduced in half. Then, two months later, I lost another ten pounds and my medication was cut out entirely. At this point my A1c had gone down from an initial diagnosis at 8.9 to a new low of 6.3.

I think the hardest part about this whole scenario was not to continue to take the easy way out and eat out or take home My meals. Bottom line: the most difficult thing I had to do was to cook at home -- Yikes! I had to be one of the laziest people on the planet and enjoyed the comfort of other people cooking my food. However, I no longer had that luxury because now that I had diabetes I had to know exactly what ingredients were placed inside the soups, vegetables, meats, and fish dishes I ate.

I took a few cooking classes just to learn the basics fundamentals of cooking. I still watch cooking shows but this time I am armed with the information I need to know in order to adapt the meals, especially for low salt, better quality carbs, and no sugars.

I still cannot say like the chefs on these cooking shows do that I love cooking because I truly don't. I have, however, found quick and easy meals to prepare where I do not have to stand and juggle in front of a hot stove for too long. And surprisingly, I found that there are some tasty international cuisines out there that do not take long, are easy to prepare, and are even tasty too.

Read Part II here!

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