Guest post from Anna Norton, CEO of DiabetesSisters, a proud StayWell partner
StayWell partnered with DiabetesSisters when the nonprofit organization was looking to more simply showcase stories from women living with diabetes. Together, the organizations developed the Between the Lines microsite, which gives women with all types of diabetes a place to go for sisterly support and a comforting sense of community. There, they can find stories like Anna Norton’s below.
Learn how Between the Lines got started and helps DiabetesSisters thrive today.
I became a mother when I was 32 years old, 14 years after my diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Until then, I had weathered my personal diabetes storm as best I could: Sometimes with ease, oftentimes with difficulties. But by the time I decided to embark on the journey of motherhood, I had a good grasp of how to best live with diabetes.
I acquired an insulin pump in my mid-20s to accommodate my lifestyle and was able to master that quickly. When I got pregnant, it was an ideal way to manage my blood sugar and the changing insulin needs my body required. After delivery, I found it comforting as well, allowing me to dial back dosage as my insulin needs declined.
As my son grew and needed my attention, I soon learned that my diabetes did as well. I was managing two unpredictable forces in my life. It brought me to the question of “what comes first?” Was it my son or my diabetes?
As a mother, I was responsible for a small, helpless baby, who needed everything. Diaper changes, feedings, clean clothes. And then my diabetes with blood sugar checks, pump changes, endocrinologist appointments. I somehow handled it for a few years, although the blood sugar management I had previously accomplished slowly became less of a priority for me.
Then I began to experience hypoglycemia unawareness. This came at a time when my husband was occasionally traveling for work, leaving us alone for a few weeks at a time. Our family had moved recently, and we didn’t know our neighbors very well. I was uncomfortable asking for any kind of help, especially the diabetes kind.
I was out with my son one day, who was two years old, and I experienced blood sugar so low that I lost consciousness. I only remember waking up with emergency responders hovering over me, a glucagon drip in my arm, and my son sitting in his stroller happily playing with a toy. I was scared. Scared that one day I might be in a similar situation but at home, alone, with a baby who could barely communicate.
I reached out to my endocrinologist immediately, who recommended a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). I agreed, not completely understanding what a CGM did, but figured that it would improve the quality of my life as a mother.
A few weeks later, I tried my first CGM. My endocrinologist and I determined a range of blood glucose that we both felt comfortable with and she sent me home. I recall going about my usual activities and hearing a buzz, then a beep. My husband immediately asked for a lesson in the buzzing and beeping, and when I explained, he was hooked. “We are getting this, no matter what it costs,” he said to me.
Another chapter of my life with diabetes began—that of CGM use. It’s been nearly 10 years since my first CGM and I am forever grateful for those buzzes and beeps, alerting me of where my blood sugar is, and where it’s going and how fast.
Having a tool like this has allowed me to embrace motherhood fully. Because I know what’s happening diabetes wise, I can immerse myself into whatever activity my son is involved with. Whether we are at an event or a Cub Scout meeting, I can glance down and see if I’m within the range my health care team and I agreed upon. And without much fanfare, I can adjust my insulin or activity needs to accommodate diabetes.
Life with a CGM is now second nature in my home. My husband and son both are attuned to it and can identify the beeps. My son, now a tween, has grown up understanding how important it is for me and for our home life to live between the lines of my CGM. Or, at the very least, to live as closely as we can between those lines.
This content was originally published on the DiabetesSisters website.