What did life look like before type 2?
Looking back, I had probably been dodging my diagnosis for a decade. I wasn’t swallowing litres of soft drink and eating takeaway food every night – in fact, it was quite the opposite. I made a point of cooking healthy meals every day, the fridge was full of first-class proteins and lovely fresh fruit and veg, and my daughter, Olivia, had one of the healthiest lunch boxes in town. It was the busyness of my life that eventually did me in. I actually think I stressed my way to diabetes.
What kind of stresses did you have?
There was no beginning or end to my days – my life was a continuous blur of rushing and deadlines and snatched hours of sleep, and fistfuls of food here and there. A typical day would see me up at 4am, turning on my computer and doing two or more hours of freelance writing work before starting my ‘regular’ day as a journalist.
It was just me and Olivia for the first nine years of her life, so at 6am I would shower and get dressed and organised, then from 7am to 9am, it was getting Olivia up and dressed and fed, making her lunch, running out the door to daycare/preschool/school, and then to work. Always rushing, I would throw myself into my work when I arrived and often not have lunch until 2pm, if at all.
By late afternoon I would be absolutely famished and grab whatever was available – which was often a sugary ‘health’ bar. Then the rush was on to get back to Olivia. As I made dinner, I’d be so hungry, I would eat handfuls of cheese and biscuits.
My body clock was completely out of whack, I had no time for enough sleep, or any exercise or leisure, and I was running on adrenaline, cups of tea and a very erratic food supply. In a day I would go from prolonged starvation to binge eating and desperate carb loading. I often felt shaky and dizzy and out of control.
Considering your background as a nurse, did your diagnosis come as a surprise?
The news shouldn’t have come as that much of a surprise. I had been a nurse and then worked in medical publishing during my 20s, before writing for healthy eating publications in my 30s and 40s. I knew about diabetes – I’d even written for a diabetes website. But as I sat listening to my GP explaining that I had type 2, the news hit me like a kick in the guts.
I remember nodding and smiling politely, as if I were being told the directions to the train station. And then, walking tall and blinking back tears, I left the doctor’s room, strode through the waiting room and out to the car, not stopping for anything – not even paying the bill. In the car I just sat, shaking. And then I phoned a friend and started to blubber. It was like a decade of remorse came gushing out.
How about now? Have you come to terms with diabetes?
I’ll be completely honest and say my life with type 2 hasn’t been easy so far. I’ve enviously read stories of formerly inactive people going out and running marathons and reversing their diagnosis. However, old habits die hard, family and friends and life constantly throw curve balls, and a girl has to make a living! So I’ve had to think outside the box that is my home office where I often do all-nighters to meet deadlines.
After realising that the deadlines and utility bills don’t go away, I reinvented myself and now work several hours a day assisting the frail, aged and disabled in my community. This gets me off my bum and out of the house, with lots of moving on the job (something that’s important for my diabetes) and puts money in the bank without me having to stay up all night.
I’ve felt a real shift and I feel excited that I’ve set the wheels in motion for ongoing change. Although there will be no marathons on the horizon for me, my message is that you have to make changes in a way that will work for you.