On June 24, 2011 I was diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes. To say this was a surprise would be the understatement of the century. It doesn’t run in my family. I wasn’t obese. My diet wasn’t fabulous, but it certainly wasn’t diabetes inducing. I wasn’t an exercise fanatic, but I walked a lot, took the stairs, etc. Even my poor doctor was baffled. Despite having nearly every symptom of diabetes she tested and retested and retested. [For my fellow diabetics: My fasting blood sugar level was 269. After not eating for almost 18 hours. My first A1C level was 13.6.]
To make matters worse two days after this alarming diagnosis (when I couldn’t stop crying) I went to New Orleans, Louisiana for five days. I’m in one of the major food capitals of the world and I’m afraid to eat anything (because all food will kill me dead immediately.) I would be starving from only eating nuts and berries so out of frustration I would eat five pieces of fried chicken. Neither option is a viable way to exist (although I would like to give a shout-out to Brothers Chicken on Carondelet St.) I can only say that during those first few months I was a hot mess.
A year later I’m angry. I’m angry as only a person who was never sick a day in their life is angry. I’m angry that diabetes affects every single part of my body; my eyes, my skin, my teeth. I’m angry that there is sugar hidden in everything (I’m looking at you marinara sauce and peanut butter.) I’m angry that diet pop tastes terrible. I’m angry that people say things like, “Once they start cutting they don’t stop,” and “Now that you have lost so much weight you should be cured,” and “At least it isn’t cancer.” I’m angry that I’m 35 and take a handful of pills twice a day and at bedtime. I’m angry that body isn’t my body anymore, but something that I need to constantly pay attention to and worry about.
All of this anger has made me determined to educate myself and be as healthy as I can be (while still living my life.) I exercise nearly every day- a combination of walking the South Side city steps and hot yoga. I eat a lot of vegetables and fruit. I use sugar substitutes. I (sort of) learned to cook.
Thankfully the library has a ton of quality resources, some that I discovered researching for this post.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Health and Wellness Resources
- This is an excellent place to begin if you are looking for any health information. You can search a medical dictionary, search for information about specific disorders, finding a doctor, and paying for health care. This is also where you can get access to the libraries’ collection of health databases.
- This page provides links to national and local diabetes resources, for children and adults. There is also a section of relevant subject headings to browse and a short list of cookbooks.
The Kitchen Diva’s diabetic cookbook: 150 healthy, delicious recipes for diabetics and those who dine with them by Angela Shelf Medearis
The Joslin diabetes healthy carbohydrate cookbook by Bonnie Sanders Polin and Frances Towner Giedt
The essential diabetes cookbook : good healthy eating from around the world by Antony Worrall Thompson
The diabetes comfort food cookbook; foods to fill you up, not out! By Robyn Webb
- I highly recommend the Cheddar Cheese and Broccoli Soup, especially if you can get someone else to make it.
These cookbooks inspired me to make my own almond flour for banana muffins and experiment with new kinds of salads. I assure you, I am not the sort of person who makes their own flour.
Bikram yoga : the guru behind hot yoga shows the way to radiant health and personal fulfillment by Bikram Choudhury
- Yoga in a room heated to 105 degrees isn’t for everyone, but there is a type of yoga out there for everyone!
Yoga for beginners by Brian Burns, Howard Kent, and Claire Hayler
Baron Baptiste’s hot yoga basics. Level 1, Power yoga for beginners, DVD
Walking : a complete guide to the complete exercise by Casey Meyers
The Leslie Sansone series of videos and books
Many people swear by this series of walking videos and books. The five mile walk video clobbered me.
These are only a few of the resources I personally used after my diagnosis. I will (grudgingly) admit that I am healthier now than I have ever been in my life. So if you are surprised by a health crisis, don’t forget the library. And maybe don’t eat 5 pieces of fried chicken in one sitting.