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I am so grateful to Sansum Clinic's diabetes educators

I think everyone remembers the exact day, if they hear the words, "you have diabetes". For me, it was July 31, 2006. Even though my grandmother and mother both had diabetes, I didn't know much about it and didn't know what to do. I immediately made an appointment with a diabetes educator and I met with her that day. That first meeting changed everything. She asked me what I thought of when I heard the word diabetes and I started to cry. I knew my grandmother had died from complications with the disease and my mother was insulin dependent, had toe amputations and severe vision and neuropathy problems. I was terrified and realized I didn't have a clue about what to do. She took the time to listen to me and then began the process of putting me on a road to success. I learned how to test, read food labels and best of all, felt connected to the help I needed.

I quickly signed up for the Diabetes Essentials and Nutrition classes and learned so much. I stopped being so afraid and felt empowered to take charge of my life. I read all the materials and continued to do research and ask questions. I started walking and was soon up to 5 miles a day. After 9 months, I had lost 55 pounds. My husband was very supportive and attended the classes with me. He joked that he had "diabetes by association" and was eating well and exercising with me.

The diabetic educators were invaluable to me. During this journey the last few years, I have experienced the many emotions that go along with the daily challenges. At first, I was angry that even though my previous doctors knew about my family history, an A1C was never suggested. I quickly passed through that when I learned how much progress has been made in the last few years. That information empowered me even more about how much I could be in charge of the direction of a healthy diabetes life. I also had bouts of depression from the challenges of choosing the right foods, counting carbs, etc. Then, I found out about the Diabetes Detective support group. Gerri French is the diabetes coordinator of this group and I found her and the group a great place to learn even more about food, be able to share how I'm doing, emotionally and physically, realize I'm not alone and know that I have a lifeline all the time.

Today, my biggest emotion is gratitude. Without the programs at Sansum Clinic, I would never be where I am today, so I "cheerlead" to everyone I meet about getting checked and educated and to live the diabetes life empowered with education and without fear.

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