Thursday, November 22, 2018

Interview about Gestational Diabetes with Connie O'Connor(My Aunt)

This is an interview I did with my Aunt who is named Connie O'Connor who has Gestational Diabetes. She tells her story of how she got it, how she manages it, and advice to people who may be struggling with diabetes. She also biked across America twice while being diabetic which is very inspiring. I am so blessed to call her my aunt and I would love to share her story with all of you because she is an inspiration and living proof that Diabetes can't hold you back from doing anything. I have learned so much through this interview and I hope you do too!

At what age did you find out that you found out you have type 1/2 diabetes? What were the warning signs that you had it and what was your emotional reaction to the diagnosis?
I have Gestational diabetes that I got from when I was pregnant with my first child at the six-month mark of my pregnancy. She is my only daughter and her name is Claire. I have a son that is 19 months younger named Tommy. Gestational diabetes occurs when a woman gains weight from pregnancy combined with the pregnancy hormones that overload the system. Once I delivered Claire, I went back to having a normal blood sugar. Then in the first month of my pregnancy with Tommy, I became diabetic and had to go back on Insulin. How I found out I had diabetes again was because I was constantly thirsty, losing weight and constantly fatigued. The constant fatigue was normal for pregnancy but the constant thirst and losing weight wasn’t so I went for a blood check and they found I had high blood sugar and I had Gestational diabetes once again. I was frustrated because I lost weight and have done everything that my endocrinologist said and I still came out with the diagnosis. When I originally worried about Claire’s brain after the first diagnosis because I thought my health had affected her.   
How has this disease affected your day to day life?
I have to watch my diet and exercise. I have to count every single calorie that I intake into my body. I have to check my blood sugar every hour and I have to use insulin whenever my blood is too high. I also have to eat before six o’clock because if I need to be aware before I go to sleep whether I have high or low blood sugar. To check my blood sugar, I use a Continuous Glucose Monitor called Dexcom. It is a company in San Diego and it measures my blood every five minutes and I can use an app on my iPhone to monitor it. It also alerts me when it is too high or too low.   
What are some daily habits that help you manage your diabetes?
I eat four to six times a day instead of 3 times a day. I exercise at least an hour a day. I make my biggest meals my breakfast and lunch and if I want to eat a treat I will eat it at lunchtime.
How do you stay motivated with diet and exercise?

You know how you feel when you get the flu and you say to yourself, “I’m going to stay away from sick people.” It is the same with food. If I know something will make my blood sugar go too high and I get too tired and sleepy and I don't want to do anything. I avoid those foods.

What has to be your biggest piece of advice to someone who is struggling to manage their diabetes or who has recently been diagnosed with diabetes? Or someone who is in the prediabetic category?
Don’t count on other people, count on yourself. You are responsible for yourself, others are not responsible for you. Don’t be a burden to other people, don’t force people to do what you have to do. Just because you can’t eat certain food doesn’t give you the right to force others not to.
What does your daily diet look like?
In the morning I eat about a fourth of a cup of fruit with a little bit of diabetic yogurt, an egg and a piece of toast that is about 7-10 grams of carbs. Then for lunch I eat some kind of lunch meat or something with protein in it with half of a fruit. Then about at four o’clock I eat a little bit of string cheese and maybe a cracker. Then for dinner I usually have have 6 or 7 grams of protein, 8-10 grams of carbs and then some veggies. I eat
about 1400-1700 calories a day depending on how much I exercise.

One thing that I would like to add is that I am very impressed and proud of your accomplishments. I am amazed that you were able to ride your bike all across America twice while being diabetic. That is truly inspirational and I applaud you for showing people that diabetes can’t stop you from doing anything. Plenty of other people will be inspired by your story!  

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