2.15.17

My Relentless Search For Happiness In A Late Diagnosis

I have Type 1 Diabetes. Ugh, that still doesn’t sound like something that should be coming out of my mouth. I am young (ish), I am healthy (ish), and why the *&$# do I have T1D?!?!

I was diagnosed at 32 years old after I had my second son. I was told that it was gestational and would go away (blah blah blah…) Well, here came the shock of a lifetime: it did not go away. So, here I am, 33 years old, with a pump and a Dexcom attached to me at all times. Talk about a major bummer, but the bigger question remains: now what?

That question circles through my head every day since diagnosis. I am not going to pretend that I am a super positive person and that I view every glass half full. Anyone that knows me knows that (as much as I wish it was) that is not the case, but I had to choose to make the best out of my situation. I may be the girl that lets a hang nail or a little muffin top really beat her down, but Type 1 Diabetes? It’s got nothing on me. Of course we all have our days, readings, and meals that go terribly wrong and we get frustrated. That’s normal of any diabetic. But to make the best out of a bad thing, I had to CHOOSE (oh yes in caps) to use it to my advantage and to find a way to use diabetes to make me happy. 

I know that sounds like crazy talk. How can diabetes make you happy? Well, obviously diabetes itself doesn’t make you happy, but the ways that you cope with diabetes can make you happy. Very early on, I found that what I ate and how I ate made me happy. Pigging out and guessing carbs counts brought many highs and lows early on. My first week of officially having diabetes I treated a low with heaps (and heaps and heaps) of chocolate birthday cake. I had so much to learn. I learned that, for me, there really are no free foods. Yes, I probably need to bolus for everything I put in my mouth. That was a really hard thing for me to grasp, but now seeing a steady line on my Dexcom or nailing a carb count makes me feel like a rockstar. 

So #lowcarb

My favorite diabetes treatment–exercise–makes me the most happy. Nothing lowers my blood sugar like exercise. I can get a down trending arrow in 15 minutes once I hop on the treadmill or bike. If I need to bring my blood sugar down fast, I know how to do it, and that gives me peace of mind. Heeeelllllooooo endorphins! Who doesn’t need a healthy dose of feel good juice? (Apparently, this is what I call endorphins)

Additionally, I found true love in exercise. It’s name: spin class. I have always exercised, I took time off in my wild 20’s, but was happy to find my way back to it in my 30’s. Once I received the diagnosis, I hit the gym and hit it hard. I ventured out, trying things I never would have tried before. I knew I needed to exercise frequently and I needed a lot of bullets in my gun. Without diabetes, I would probably not have fallen for spin class… and now spin class makes me happy. 

To get a little sappy… diabetes has made me appreciate things more. When first diagnosed, I thought of it as a death sentence. The first thing I said to my husband was “at least now I know how I am going to die.” Morbid huh? It took me a few beats to find the silver lining. I look at my family, my kids especially, and want to be healthy for them. I want good numbers for them. Diabetes has helped me find happiness with my family because I want to be here with them for as long as I can. I want to enjoy the moments I have with them. Okay, enough sappy. 

Whatever happens on my diabetes journey, I want to know I tried my best. I may not always be the best PWD out there, but I can still strive to be better than I was yesterday. To me, giving my all means diet, exercise, spending time with my family and finding happiness inside diabetes.

In summary, now I am fit (ter), healthy (er), and happy (er) all because of diabetes. Pretty crazy! Now what?

Hi! I am Natalie Howkins. Diagnosed with T1D for a year, a newbie if you will. I am a low carbing, exercising, traveling Dexcomer and Omnipodder, trying to make it through the same old world with a new diagnosis. Find me on Instagram @type1inamillion!

8 thoughts on “My Relentless Search For Happiness In A Late Diagnosis

  1. Natalie, you are my great niece in more ways than one.I’m so proud of you and your efforts.

  2. Oh my gosh,, this is me too! Diagnosed late in life 56 years young , took it as a challenge to get fit and healthy as well so I became a certified personal trainer! Exercise is an amazing thing for lowering your numbers!!

  3. As your friend, I had NO idea you had diabetes. You are a warrior, Natalie. So well written, love your spin on outlook, seeing more clearly what matters. Proud of u! See you in spin class 😉

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