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A “Smart Woman” with Diabetes

Here is one of the many great women I profile in my upcoming book, Smart Women’s Guide to Diabetes. Heather Jacobs was diagnosed with diabetes on October 15, 1978.

I went to the emergency room in a diabetic coma and found out that I had diabetes 3 days later when I awoke. One of my first memories was having the doctors tell my parents and me that I had brittle juvenile diabetes, and that my prognosis was grim. They informed me that I would have to take insulin injections everyday for the rest of my life, which would not be long-lived. They said I would be dead by age 40 and at that time I would be blind, with an amputation and most likely would be on dialysis. This prognosis was by no means a possibility; it was a matter of fact.

In my mind I had two options; the first was to do what I was told: test my measured urine for sugar and ketones, take my shots, weigh my food and most importantly, not eat sucrose (at that time carbohydrates were fine, just no sugar) and die a miserable young death. My other choice was to do as I pleased and die before the complications ravaged my body. I chose the latter, which made perfect sense to me at the time. The way I saw it was like this: most people made “good” choices in order to live a long, healthy life.  Since I was going to die young anyway, I chose all of the “bad” things that I possibly could, and proceeded to do them with gusto!  I happily hoarded “bad” behaviors and was well on my way to succeeding with my plan when I met the love of my life. I, for the very first time, wanted to not just live to 30 or 40, I wanted to live to 80. And I wanted to keep my own body parts, no rentals.  I tried and failed, tried and failed, tried, tried, tried and eventually began the daunting long arduous road to a healthy long life,

A disclaimer: I do not recommend the ways and means that I lived by during my first 20 years of living with diabetes.  However, if you find yourself still battling with embracing diabetes as a part of your life and are facing the complications of diabetes, you are not alone.  It is important to believe that it is virtually never too late to turn one’s life around.  There too is growing evidence that, in some cases like my own, the complications associated with uncontrolled diabetes can be reversed.  Clearly, it depends upon numerous factors, but it is possible.

In my case, I went from having neuropathy in my hands and feet, which were cold and tingling with burning pins and needles pain, to vastly improved circulation with warmth and even hair growing on my toes again.

I asked my endocrinologist why he never told me that reversing complications was possible. He said, “Sadly, not enough people have done what I have done, so there is no scientific proof and since there is no proof he can’t tell his patients that it is possible.”  I am here to say, “It IS possible!”  I am proof.  I just celebrated my 41st birthday, I have all of my own body parts, 20/20 vision, normal kidney function and most importantly I live an extremely happy, blessed life.  I can honestly say that I am grateful to live with diabetes.  It is a part of who I am, and I like who I am.

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