EPISODE 39: THE HANGRY WOMAN
Guest: Mila Clarke Buckley
Lauren: So I'd love to hear a little bit about what your health journey has been up until now.
Mila: Yeah. So about two years ago I had these moments of like extreme fatigue. I was super thirsty all the time. I felt faint sometimes and I just kept thinking like, okay, this is stress. Like I had a really stressful job at the time and I just kept thinking like I'm overextending myself and I'm doing too much and I just thought like get some more sleep, maybe go get a massage, have some self care, you'll be fine. And so it kept going on for a month or two and at that point I was like, okay, something's really wrong. Like usually that kind of thing goes away once you like get everything in check and you get everything balanced and it wasn't. I was still having all of the same symptoms and I was like super hungry all the time. Like I just wanted to eat everything and it didn't matter what it was or what it was, I was just like, I want to eat all the time. So it was like something's wrong. I need to really go get this checked out and I went to the doctor and I got like every test known to mankind. I hadn't been to the doctor in a few years and so they were like, okay, we're doing everything, like we're going to see what's wrong if there is something wrong, and so I leave the doctor's office and like no more than 15 minutes after that the nurse calls me back and she says, you need to make an appointment as soon as possible. If you can come back today, you need to come back today because something is wrong. And I was like, wait, what? Like they don't ever call you and tell you that they don't ever want to come back that same day.
M: And so I was like, I don't know what's going on. So I made an appointment, finally got back there a couple of days later and the doctor was like, you have extremely high blood sugar. You're diabetic. If you have diabetes, you know about your A1C, which is your like blood glucose average over a three month period. Usually if you're in the controlled range, you're at about a five or six. I was at a 13.
M: And so he was like, everything that you're doing in your life needs to change and do you need to overhaul all of it because you're going to have some bad complications if you don't get on track. So, you know, he sent me home with some medication with uh, the, the advice to exercise and eat a little better and just kind of sent me on my way. And in that moment I was like, oh crap, like I don't know what to do. Like he said to eat better, but what do I eat, how do I eat?
M: What do I like, what do I do, how often can I eat? And then he said to exercise and I was like, what kind of exercise? Like can I run or go boxing or do I have to do walking or should I do something easier, something difficult. And so I had all of these questions. I have like a million questions and in the moment with the doctor I was in a place of shock. So I didn't know what to say or what to ask or how to learn to move forward and then it hit me like, oh well, you know, I can probably Google this thing. Like people I'm sure are talking about it and have some advice about how to live with it and know how to live with it normally. And then when I googled you know, what to do when you're diagnosed with type two diabetes. There were literally zero people talking about it and that surprised me because I was like, there's no advice for anyone that isn't from a pharmaceutical perspective or like a research perspective or medical perspective. And nobody was having like that real world conversation in terms of like this is how I live with it and how I survive on the day to day. And so I am like a totally shameless person. And I was like, if no one else is talking about it, I'm going to talk about it. And it was like a really fun way for me to process it and kind of understand what was happening and to learn more about my chronic illness by just documenting it.
L: It's so cool that you, first of all that you did a little research. You could start getting information. It's disappointing that you didn't get what you were looking for. But the cool part is that you thought “I'll be the one to start being public about this” because there are so many other people probably looking for the same answers.
M: Yeah, totally. And it's kind of funny because I think I came from like a little bit of a place of ignorance. Like I was like, oh well nobody's talking about this so I'm just going to do it. And I didn't really ask myself why at all. And it wasn't until maybe like a couple months in that I realized like people feel marginalized and stigmatized when they have type two diabetes and they don't feel empowered to talk about it because they're scared. They feel like they're going to be judged. It's funny that I had none of those feelings at first and it's maybe just because like I just didn't know and it ended up actually making, talking about my journey that much better because I think other people would come and they would say, oh my gosh, she's actually like saying something about it and being open about it instead of keeping it as this secret to herself and maybe that's something that I can do too.
L: Absolutely, and I have to say I can really relate to what you're saying about being public about it because the, the...there's a way that I think we can become more known on a deeper level when we're, when we're open about this stuff. So when for example, when I make new friends and I've had this podcast going for a while and they listen to it, they're like, oh, I feel like I know you are like cool and I don't have to explain anything and it's just kind of normalized. So it doesn't really occur to me nearly as much to be ashamed or embarrassed about it because I'm like, no, this is just the thing that I do publicly.
M: Yeah, totally. And like that's like the thing that I would totally tell people about chronic illness. Like it's like your chronic illness is not who you are. It's a part of your life and it's something that lives with you, but it doesn't define everything that you do. Like it's just something else that you have to do. Like you have to brush your teeth and eat breakfast and take showers during the day and sometimes you have to take care of your chronic illness and it's just like an added thing. But it doesn't necessarily like, like you shouldn't feel like you have to be labeled by that certain thing.
L: Mmmm. Yeah. And I think people have different ways of kind of owning or claiming diagnoses and one of the ways that I think can be so empowering is what you're doing, which is saying I'm going to acknowledge this and make it and kind of weave it into what I'm creating in the world. So, so specifically through your blog, can you tell me a little bit about your blog?
M: Yeah. So um, it's just like a destination for people to kind of gain an understanding about the most basic things about diabetes and then on the flip side to be able to see that you can live an absolutely normal life and you can have fun and you can, you know, like your life changes because of your chronic illness, but it's not like this whole drastic overhaul and it doesn't mean that you can't do anything that you loved before. So I love it from that perspective of like the education part because I wrote a lot of articles on my site about some of the questions that I had that were just very basic terminology questions. What's an, A1C, what does high blood sugar mean? What are the signs and symptoms of those things...all the way to like practical things like how to travel when you have diabetes. So like what supplies should you bring with you? What things should you be mindful of when you're on a plane or in an airport? So I love like doing content like that because I feel like it's, it's those questions that you don't necessarily know to ask at first, but then you can find a resource that's like, oh, okay, there's some like daily living kind of things here that I can latch onto and use as advice later down the line.
L: That's so cool. And I just am realizing as you talk about this, that I don't have a place like that for my chronic illness, which is multiple sclerosis, but there's no blogger that I follow who's like, here's my lifestyle with MS and I'm sure that there are tons out there. It's just I haven't found one or maybe you haven't searched for one, but now that you're talking about it, I'm like, Ooh, I want. I want one of these for my MS. That just sounds….specifically like you mentioned earlier, it sounds really important that it's coming from you as an individual who has a personal story versus from like a pharmaceutical company, et cetera. It's, it's a, it's a real life account of what you're doing and I imagine, also, you are taking on a role maybe consciously or maybe it just happened. I feel like you're probably taking on a role where you are like a leader and almost like a, I want to say cheerleader or nurturer or there's something that I imagine people get when they go to you were they kind of expect to get some, some type of advice and I'm wondering what that's like for you.
M: Yeah, it's interesting because like, I never thought that I would be that person for somebody else. Like I was just looking for a resource myself and saw that it was lacking and decided to do something about it and I always felt like, okay, well maybe like one person will come here and they may get something and then I'm like shocked when I get like 10 or 15 emails a month where people are like, I read your site and I just got diagnosed and this made me really calm because I felt so anxious after my appointment.
M: I didn't know what to do and I had these questions and I felt like you answered them for me in a way that I can like go back to my healthcare team and say hey, these are all the questions that I have and what I need to do with it. And so like that to me is so rewarding because it's like...it's not necessarily what I set out to do. Like I mainly just wanted a place for myself where I could kind of reference things and remember things and then it became something else that other people could use. And that was really interesting and rewarding for me.
M: And then there's also like the flip side of it that I think is really interesting wherein there are companies that are developing like diabetes tools and resources and apps and I get asked all the time to like look at their apps and give feedback about what people with diabetes might want included or if they got something right or something wrong because they don't have like that….that user group to test with. They kind of just develop an app based on medical information. And then they're like, okay, you know, here you go, and it's like, well, you know, you developed this app that tracks your blood sugar, that's great, but what about tracking emotions and what about tracking your exercise and your like lifestyle kind of daily things. And so that's also really awesome too to be able to give feedback like not like on behalf of the community, but just with the community in mind, you know, instead of it being someone developing something from a perspective that they don't necessarily have.
L: Right, and that's so important, really humanizing the attempt to make people's lives better from an outside perspective, by bringing that inside perspective to them and saying hey, here's my real life experience and here's how you can help cater to what I as a real person need versus what your idea of me is. And so you're helping a lot of people in that way too by providing that feedback, which is pretty cool.
M: Yeah. It's like, I dunno, it's one of those things that I'm just like, like I was talking to a friend the other day and I just said like, why me? Like why did, like why did I decide to do this? And like why am I being put in this position? And we were talking about how like if you see something in the world that's wrong and you wonder why nobody's talking about it, you are the person who supposed to be doing it. Like if you're sitting there wondering like why isn't this happening? It's like well you're the one who's supposed to make a difference and you're the one who's supposed to like go out there and do something to make it better. And so I like, I always keep that in mind like every time, you know, like, because there are good and the bad. Like they're the people that come and they say like, Hey, your information really helped me. I'm so glad that I have this guidance. And then there are also people who come and they say well you glorify type two diabetes and you make it seem like it's not that hard. And like it's something that's cool and nobody wants that. And I'm like well I don't think I do that.
M: But like, but like you know, there's like the two sides to the coin and say you always consider like, okay, well I like, am I doing something right? Like is this something that I'm supposed to be doing? And so it's like a really interesting shift I feel like in between the two.
L: Yeah. And I think what you're speaking to is how, I mean one, one of the things that I'm hearing in this is that there's a risk when we put ourselves out there and we create something, even though you have such a beautiful intention of saying I want to create a resource that I needed back when I was diagnosed and I want to give of myself in a way that would be supportive to, to anyone who's kind of like me and wants that kind of support. The risk is sometimes it doesn't speak to everyone who comes across it. And so it sounds like you. I'm curious how you manage that when those messages come in.
M: You know, I think it's just...especially with type two diabetes and maybe diabetes in general, type one or a lot of like. I feel like there's just like an education component that is lacking completely. And so like even from the basic things like when people are like you eat too much sugar and that's why you have diabetes. And it's like wow, let's back up. Let's back up like a lot because that's not how it works. It's not how it's caused and all the types are different and they all work differently within your body. And so it's like, to me when I get those messages it's kind of just going back to the education component and like explaining why I do what I do and why I decided to start the resource. And then also just letting them know like, you know, if you want to know more information about diabetes or you want to understand like...giving them tons of other resources to say like look it up and research it because like I think it's a lot different than you think it is. And you know, typically like I won't get an answer back. You know, people are just kinda like whatever they want me to be mad until I go crazy on them and them get that reaction, but I don't, you know, I'm just like, eh. And I think you're saying that because you just don't understand enough and somebody needs to tell you so that you do get it.
L: Well, I also think that like I get excited when you told me that one of the pieces of feedback was like, you're making it seem like it's cool to have this disease. And I part of me thought like, well great.
L: Really what it is is that I'm biased. I'm like, yes, it is cool and it's not because of the disease, it's that you're, you're cool and you have the disease. And so, and, and that's part of what makes it cool is that we're, you know, we're owning our lives, we're giving, we're, we're making choices about our lives and making our lives as awesome as we possibly can. So I applaud you for that.
M: Yeah, thanks.
L: I think that's a wonderful piece of negative feedback.
M: I appreciate that. And like, I, you know, I feel kind of the same way when I literally got that message, someone was like, you make it seem like diabetes is cool. And I was like okay, that's not like, that's not a criticism, that's awesome.
L: Like, guilty as charged.
M: But like I feel like the biggest thing is like knowing that you're not in it by yourself because they think that a ton of people feel just so alone and feel like they're the only ones and they don't know where to go and they don't know who to turn to. So if they can see that somebody is like living a good life with this chronic illness and still enjoying themselves and not depriving themselves and, and like everything is seemingly normal, you know, it makes someone feel like, okay, there is hope for me.
M: And I think that's the biggest thing is like you get the diagnosis and I've heard from so many people, it's like the doctor makes you feel like this is your problem. You did this to yourself, now you have to fix it yourself. And it always seems like you're alone. Like you have to do it by yourself and you don't have any support and you don't have any help and it's really important to find that support system with any chronic illness. They feel like because that's how you're going to keep going and that's how you're going to get the encouragement to get along with it.
L: Totally, and I just got chills when you said that because I was imagining the you that's in the doctor's office and hearing this information for the first time that it is... It can be so lonely and from my own from the me of back. Then when I was getting the information, it was a very strange experience to feel like, oh, oh, now I have to really figure some stuff out and there's a lot of guilt that can come up and what should I have done differently and all those questions. And yet you have. You've just sort of explained. Part of the antidote is to create connection and to know that you're not the only one out there and that there's so much more to the story than it probably feels like when you're sitting in that doctor's office.
M: Yeah, totally. And like I was thinking about it the other day and I thought to myself like if, if I sat in that doctor's office the first time and my doctor had said this is something that is manageable. It seems bad now, but you can get this under control and you'll move on. It'll be fine. I feel like I would've had a much different experience than getting told like, wow, this is really bad for you and like here are all the complications and you could have strokes and heart attacks and this and this and this and this. And I was just like, what? Like I'm going to have a stroke? Like what is like what?
L: Oh my gosh.
M: Yeah. And so it's like the approach, you know, I feel like, like I feel like on one end it's also like the physician doing their duty to say like this is what could happen to you if you don't get it under control. But then there's also like that, that message to people that like it is manageable. Like if you do the right things and you stay on track, you can totally live with it just fine and you're not going to have all of those scary complications. But it's just always interesting in the way that it's framed in. A lot of people that come to me say that they get like the scare tactic talk and they're like I don't know what to do.
M: And I'm like well, like, like not to say that your doctor is wrong because he's not like those things can happen. But those, that's what happens when you don't manage it. And kind of like setting people's perspective. Like it doesn't have to be that bad. You have to put in a lot of hard work and you have to do things the right way. But at the end of the day like you can manage it and you'll be just fine.
L: Mmmm. This leads me to one of my favorite questions to ask people. If you could go back in time to that moment when you were receiving that news from your doctor and you got to get a little moment alone with yourself, with the you of back then from the you now. What would you want to say to her?
M: Yeah, that's a really good question. I feel like the simplest thing, like I would probably just say it's okay. Like it's going to be okay because like my personality type is like, if I don't do something like the exact right way and it's not absolute perfection, like I just kind of freak out. And in that moment I felt like nobody's perfect, but I was just like, oh my gosh, like I, I have neglected myself and I haven't done the right things and now I'm in this position and like it was this moment of like terror because I was like, crap, what do I do? Like I basically am in this position because I didn't pay attention. And at the time I was like, this is not okay, like every, like everything about this is not okay and if I could go back and just like sit with myself in that room, I would be like, no, it is like, it's okay, it's going to be okay.
M: And just like, I don't know, like I feel like that's the first thing that I would have wanted to hear was it's going to be okay because now two years later I know that it's totally fine.
M: It's not, it's not bad I've managed it, but I've learned to live with it. I'm like really proud of my progress and how I've done in terms of managing it. And I just feel like that that is the one thing that I would have needed to hear then because at that time it just kind of felt like nothing was going to be okay.
L: Right. And that...what's interesting about that phrase is going to be okay. Is that it... I think on the surface it can sometimes seem like, oh, it's just somebody saying it's going to be okay. But what's cool about your answer is that it's you, it's the you from the future saying that to the past you.
L: And you're the only one that can really know and share that depth of security, you know, and to say I've lived it, I'm here. It's totally okay. And to provide that comfort is, is really special. And I think probably people listening to you right now are touching into, if that's resonating for them, probably their own internal sense of how even when things get really difficult, maybe there's that piece that knows that it's going to be okay, not everybody has that and I get that.
L: Um, but, but when we do to be able to recognize it is really special and important.
M: Yeah, absolutely.
L: That's so cool. So I am curious about that part of you because you developed it over time and it's sort of like an internal knowing. It sounds like, just like a confidence almost.
M: Yeah, I think so. And like I think it has just come from like lots of lots of practice. Like to myself, like almost like affirmations to myself. Like you're going to be fine. Don't stress about the small stuff, just like if you hit a bump, keep going. And that took me a lot of time to do because like coming from that perfectionist perspective, like when you're diagnosed you get a meter so you're checking your blood glucose so many times a day depending on how many times your doctor tells you and they give you a range and they say you need to be in this range to be controlled. And so like if I was like a point outside of that range, I was like oh I did it wrong, you know?
M: And then I like talking to myself back into saying like, okay, I didn't do it wrong. Like I was a point outside. So like what got me outside of that range, like what can I change to do better? And then I think that it was also just like learning to advocate for myself because I am also just like a very, like mild mannered person. So whenever my doctor would tell me something that I didn't like to hear that, like I didn't like the way that he said it. Like I just wouldn't say anything. I just, it's like he's the doctor, he knows everything, like that's fine and then I got to a point where I was like, I feel disrespected by him. I don't feel like I'm getting encouragement and I also don't feel like I'm doing any better than I was doing. And so from that point I was like, okay, I need to look for somebody new and like these are the things that I want in a physician, like these are the things that I need to find in somebody that is going to encourage me to work harder. And then I found that in a new doctor and it just took kind of like having that switch flipped and saying like, okay, like I don't have to deal with that if I don't feel like I'm progressing and I don't feel like it's getting better. Like I can, I can move whenever I want. And overtime that came over time. That was just like, you know, learning and learning and learning and then figuring out like, okay, I know what I can do next to get to like the best place that I can be.
L: Absolutely. Oh, I love that part of your story because. Well, okay, first of all, I'm a huge fan of affirmations. I don't even know if people know this about me, big fan of affirmations because I just, I think that the thoughts that we think on purpose nourish us. The ones that we choose, that we want to feed to ourselves in a way. And so when we put things in a way that feels strong and powerful and enriching and beautiful, then we get to have more of that energy in our lives. So it sounds like you were using your own internal awareness of something that was not resonating, which is your doctor the way that your doctor was treating you and you shifted from kind of taking that passive role that so many of us can take, which is like the doctor knows everything. I just need to follow the directions and keep going. And you said, uh, that actually isn't working for me anymore. Now I'm starting to see what I really do want and what nourishes me and it's not this.
M: Yeah. Yeah, totally. And that's, I feel like that's a moment that so many of us have, like you just feel like you're, you're dealing with somebody who you have a lot of respect for and you know who has the education and the background and that's why they're sitting in front of you. And so you feel like, okay, I have to take everything that they say at face value, but it's also like in your gut, you know what's right and wrong and your guts going to tell you like if that's the person that you should have with you on your journey or if you need to find somebody else that's going to support you.
L: Absolutely. I like that too. That awareness that we get to choose who we take with us on that journey. Thank goodness.
M: Yeah, totally.
L: I'm also curious if you are willing to share, you don't have to, but what are some of your personal favorite affirmations these days?
M: Ooh, that's a good question. Like, I don't know if I could put it into like words or like a sentence, but I think like something that I'm always stressing back to myself is like, just like take your moment of self care because it's easy to get wrapped up and overwhelmed. And I actually, I kind of read this really culminated a few weeks ago and my husband broke his leg and so we went through two surgeries within a matter of two weeks. He can't walk for 10 weeks. And so I was...and so I'm like his full time caretaker in addition to working in an addition to blogging.
L: And so I was like going to have a mental breakdown because I was like, there's so much happening and I have to do it all and I can't figure it out. And I just kind of like, like sat with myself for a minute. And I was just like, okay, just like first take a breath and then like ask for help. Like find somebody who's going to help you and don't be afraid or ashamed of asking for help because like you can only do this for so long. You can only keep going at that pace for so long.
M: And so like reminding myself of those moments where it's like, okay, take care of yourself. Like even if it's as small as like a face mask or like drinking a cup of tea and just like listening to like mountains or something.
M: Like I love that app called calm. It's like one of my favorite apps and it always has really great like soundscapes. So sometimes I'll just like, I live in Houston, Texas, no mountains, like beautiful trees or anything. We just have like our little bayou. So I listened to like mountain scape sounds and I'm like okay, I like this, like this is good, this is calming.
L: Oooh, I love that.
M: And so like, yeah, just taking that moment of like reflection and self care and making sure that you, like somebody said at one time, and I loved it, but like you put your oxygen mask on first so like you do the things that nourish you and take care of you and then you can take the steps to take care of others when you need to.
L: That's so true and I really appreciate you sharing also from the perspective of a caregiver because you had posted something recently on, on social media about your experience being with your husband in the hospital and I was so touched by it and I think that's very much a part of having a body too, is that we're in relationship with other people who have bodies who, you know, it's like for all of us, our bodies don't do what we want them to do all the time and so dealing with that from the other side is, is really unique and special as well. And I remember you, you can tell me if I'm getting it right, but you, you basically wrote something that said, wow, neither of us expected this. This is really crummy and yet I have so much faith and confidence that we will get through it because I've decided that we will get through it. That's essentially what I got from what you said.
M: Yeah, totally.
L: I was like, whoa.
M: Yeah, and I mean like that. That's an affirmation in itself. It's like I feel like I could have gone the other way and been like, this sucks. Like we're like 10 weeks. It's going to be the longest time ever and it's going to be so hard for us to get through this. But like thinking that way, it’s so draining and it's so exhausting. And so having that mindset like okay, like we're going to take this step by step and we're going to get through it and it even if we have to go like minute by minute instead of day by day. Like we're gonna do it until we get like hit our stride and until we get things going.
M: And so it's been so much easier now like over the past few weeks because we finally hit that stride and we're both like really positive in trying to make it work. And there are of course the stressful moments or we're both just like tired and we're like okay this is not gonna work. But then like for the most part we've been able to get on and then we have support from our families and help. And we only have that because we asked and because we said like, okay, we really can't do this by ourselves. Like we need other people with us.
L: That's really, that's really wonderful. And I love hearing that there's been this transformation for the two of you as a team because, you know, I think a big part of our lives is who, like you said, who we choose to have in our lives and when things go wrong, often we find out what that bond is made of or we, we make it even more substantial in the getting through. And so I think you even said, tell me if this is right. I think you even wrote something like, wow, I knew I loved him, but now I really know.
M: Yeah. Totally. Yeah. And he keeps saying that to over and over because we were joking. We were like, oh, you know, like in your vows, you always say in sickness and in health and you think that's going to be when you're like 80, not when you're 30.
L: Right, right.
M: Yeah. So it's been a really interesting experience because we're both like, wow, we have done things that we never thought like either of us would have to do, but like he just like, I have so much respect for him just in terms of like his recovery and how he's taking it and how like he's really pushing hard every day to get better. And on the other side he has so much more respect for me because he understands a little bit more about what I go through just in terms of like having something that is a hindrance. And it's actually really funny because he has to take these like blood thinners shots while he's immobile. And so he, like everyday I have to inject with insulin. And so the first time I ever did it I like cried, like I sobbed because I was like, I don't want to do it. I'm scared. I don't know how to do it. And so he actually had a similar experience.
M: Like he didn't like cry, but he was like, I don't want to do this, this is gonna hurt. And I was like, trust me. Like it's not that bad, it feels like it feels like it's going to be the worst thing in the world the first time, but I promise you once you do it, like it'll be nothing. And so then he did it and he was like, you're right. Like that really wasn't as big of a deal as I made it out to be and he's like really afraid of needles and so it was really cool to see him just say like, I understand you a little bit more and like what you go through and what you're doing. And I also am really glad that you taught me that it's not as bad as I thought. So we were having these like fun exchanges that I think are teaching him a little bit more about me, which is really interesting.
L: Oh that's so beautiful. You could not have planned that.
M: I know!
L: Little did either of you know, a few years ago when you're doing your first injection that your experience would really come in handy to help support him later.
M: Yeah. Yeah. Like things like that are just like, you know, I'm old. I'm like, I'm a firm believer that everything that happens is meant to happen, like good or bad and those kinds of moments where I'm like, okay, cool, like the universe has got me...like this is happening for a reason. And like even four years down the line, like that was the reason, you know?
L: Totally. Oh, you guys sound like a pretty cool couple.
M: I'd like to think we're pretty cool.
L: How long have you known each other?
M: We've known each other for six years.
L: Awesome. Yeah. You've got, you've had some time teambuilding before this.
M: Yeah. A little bit.
L: And this is like the whole new level of team building.
L: I think everybody makes meaning of their health situation in their own way and I'm always curious to hear like what is it that you, how do you make sense of it in your life? Like some people ask the question, why me or what purpose does this illness serve in my life? Um, some people feel like it's just, it just happens or it doesn't. And there's not much meaning to it. I'm curious what your belief and view is for yourself.
M: I feel like I have always had an interest in like food and just being in overall healthier person always for as long as I can remember. And to me this has been like a way that it's become like a focus and like something in the forefront of my life and because like I, I would prefer to enjoy it in a different way. Like if I didn't have to have type two diabetes I wouldn't have it.
M: But I, I do feel like knowing that that has always been like such a solid interest for me, it like type two diabetes gives me the ability to kind of put it at the forefront of my life and make it something that I have to focus on. And so it's already something that I just like love thinking about and I enjoy and I love working out. I love finding new places to go to workout. I love like cooking and discovering new foods and discovering how to like make things and how things are made. Um, but now it's like something that I actively have to think about and I feel like that it has always been something that's kind of just like been on my mind all the time. And so now it's, it's something that's there like really all the time now.
L: Yeah. So it's like I'm using this illness as a way to stay focused on what I already care about. It's sort of like, it's almost like you're looking at it as not that you would pick it right. But almost like you're like, okay, well I'm gonna make this my helper.
M: Yeah, totally.
L: To help me stay focused.
M: Yeah. And it's given me like a nice way to like also just make health a priority and something that's important to my family because I feel like, you know, everybody that doesn't have type two diabetes in my family, it's kind of just like I can eat whatever I want, I can do whatever I want and you know, it's not going to catch up to me. And I'm like, oh buddy, let me tell you.
M: So like the most fun conversations I have are usually around this time, like around the holidays where I can bring a dish to thanksgiving and everybody thinks like, you know, it's the Thanksgiving dish that's going to be really rich and it's going to be like super crazy. And then they eat it and they're like, oh my gosh, what's in that? And I'm like, oh, like three ingredients and they're just like, what? You could make something that tastes that good and like two or three ingredients. And I'm like uh-huh. Like it's possible, it's possible. So like that is also kind of a fun part to me is like helping my family understand that like they could also be in a similar situation one day and so like if they know how to prevent it and they know how to like push things forward, then it can definitely make a difference in their quality of life and how long they live. And it doesn't have to be something that ends up on their plate per se.
L: Yeah. Well that's a kinda cool turnaround. I know that you kind of bring a lot of care the world through your blog and through being honest about your experiences and providing tips and I'm wondering if there are other people in your life who understand what it's like to live with the same illness that you have, who you kind of like don't need to explain it to like do you have people in your life who also have the same diagnosis?
M: My mom. So my mom has type two and it's like when I found out that I had type two, I found out too from my mom. Like oh yeah, it kinda runs in the family. Like your grandmother had it. Like all of the women in my family have had it. Like for me it was different but for them like it started out as gestational diabetes and then turned kind of into type two. Like just never went away. They still have elevated blood sugars and then it became like an additional thing that they had to deal with and live with and my mom has had type two for...gosh, it has that been like at least 15 years or so? Probably more because my brother and I are 10 years apart, he's like 20. I think we know how old he is. He's like 19, like probably around that, like 19, almost 20 years. And before I was diagnosed I never understood her. Like I was like, I don't understand like why you have to take these injections. I don't understand why you have to look at the nutrition labels on every single thing you eat. I don't understand why you're asking the dude at Subway, like how many calories are in this slice of bread? Like I was just like, I don't get it. Like, you know, and at the time she was just like, it's hard to explain like I can't explain it to you. I can only say that like I have diabetes, I have to look out for my carbohydrates and that's all that I can tell you. And so it's been like the day that I told her, um, I just remember she gave me a hug and she was like, she was like, you're gonna be fine. Like you can do it.
M: You're so determined. And she was like, everything that like that you're going to go through, you can handle it. And so that was really refreshing and reassuring. And then it's so funny like her and I, we'll text each other our blood sugar numbers so we'll take our blood sugar and then take a picture of it on our phones and send it.
M: And she's like, look at what I did, like I had this and this and this for dinner and this is my range. So.
L: Aww...oh my gosh.
M: Yeah. And like we talk about food and like it, it has shown us to that diabetes is so different between people because like she was telling me that she can't eat. Gosh, I think it was like, it was like pork or something. I don't know, like she can't have pork ribs but she can have beef ribs. And I was like well that's really funny cause like I can have both and it does nothing to my blood sugar just as protein. And she was like yeah. So it's something about the pork for me that like spikes my blood sugar. And so like we compare like all of these different things and we noticed like, oh wow, we're like living with the same illness but so differently and there are tons of things that like, like work against her blood sugar that are fine for me intensive of things that work against mine and that are fine for her. Um, and so it's really nice to have that person just like in my family to talk to you. And then I'm not the only one at Thanksgiving or Christmas that's like, like talking about the food or like trying to find like a way around it. Like we kind of worked together and help each other in that way.
L: I love that. Oh that's so cool. I did not expect you to answer that question by saying. Yep. My mom.
M: Yeah. It's so interesting because like, like nobody, I feel like it's like sometimes the diagnosis of type one or type two is like really random in families like it's usually not like a close relative. It may be like somebody who is like far removed from you that like is your second cousin or something and you're like, oh, okay, whatever. But like, it's, it's interesting when it's your parent and for her it must be interesting when it's her kid because it's like you have this direct connection to somebody, um, and it's, it's like really positive because you're so close that and my mom and I are so close, like I love her so much. She's the best person I know, but like it's, it's cool to have like another connection with her on that level, knowing that like she can totally understand everything that I'm going through.
L: Yes. And I think there is a special bond that we share with people who have either the exact same or very similar health situations that we do. And when it's your mom, like you said, you're already connected, but now you have this extra layer of connection which is so cool. What does it mean to you to live a fulfilling life and has that definition of fulfillment changed because of your health journey?
M: I think for me it's just being happy and knowing that I am a healthier person and that I'm going to live a longer life. To me that is probably the most fulfilling thing because you get a diagnosis and you think, okay, that's it for me, you know, like there's nothing I can do or I am not going to be able to do enough to be able to make it, like make my life long and happy and I think those are just like the two things that I look for as long as I'm healthy and I don't go back to that place where I feel like I'm tired and I'm like, have to go to the bathroom all the time and my blood sugars are always elevated. Um, but then also that I'm just living a happy life and I'm not depriving myself of anything.
L: Mmmm. Oh, living a happy life and not depriving yourself of anything. That's pretty cool. Now, has your definition of fulfillment changed over the course of having an illness?
M: I think it has because I think you look at life a little differently when you know that you're going to have this extra thing that you have to live with. And I think that you take a lot for granted when you think that everything's Okay and when you know that everything is not okay, I think you totally switch your perspective. Um, and you realize just like how short life is and how like how much you still want to do and how much you still have left to do.
L: Totally. I can certainly relate to that. I know I would not have this podcast if it wasn't for. I mean I might. What I really mean is I wouldn't have any podcast. Like I wouldn't have come up with some other topic probably. I think I just realized now that life doesn't go on forever and my body has reminded me that. And so it's like you gotta do what you can now while you can and now's the time.
L: That's so cool. Do you have any funny stories from your health journey?
M: Actually, yeah. And I don't know if it's a funny story to everybody else, but it's hilarious to me. Um, there was a time where I was going out to dinner and I forgot to take my insulin, but I always bring a pen with me just in case. Like I always have something with me in case I like over, like underestimate the carbs and I needed to take another injection or if there's an emergency and something happens. And so I realized at the restaurant like, oh crap, I forgot to take my insulin and I didn't want to go into the bathroom because it's always gross and like there's nowhere to put your stuff and I have like this whole little like folio that has like all of my pens and all of my injection supplies. And so I was like, eh, I'll just do it at the table. Like, you know, nobody's watching, it'll be fine, whatever. And so I do it just like through my dress. Like I just like, like screw on my pen needle, do it through my dress and put my stuff away. And then like five minutes later a manager comes over and is like, ma'am, I need to talk to you. And I'm like, okay, like I don't know you, I don't know what I did. Like I ordered a margarita like that and he was like a another patron saw you injecting something into yourself at the table and that is not appropriate. And I was like, well I have diabetes so it's the most appropriate thing I can do before I eat.
M: And I was like, it's just insulin, I can show you the pen. And so like I got my pen out and I showed him and I was like, it says insulin, you know the thing. And he was thinking...he turned bright red. He was like, I'm so sorry. And he was saying, he was like, somebody just said that and I just. So I had to come over and check to make sure that everything was okay. It's not often that you see people like injecting themselves in public. And I was like, I know I usually try not to do it in public and that's kind of why.
L: Oh my gosh, I love your answer of like actually it is the most appropriate thing for me to be doing.
M: But like it was, it was such a funny moment to me. Like I felt bad that he was so embarrassed by it, but I just thought like, man, people really like eagle eye watching you in public.
L: Right. Yes.
M: Someone's always looking. So yeah.
L: And there's, there's so many things we have to do to take care of our bodies and they're not always convenient for us or the people around us. It's true.
M: Yeah, totally.
L: Oh my gosh. Well glad you got through that moment and can laugh about it today.
M: So now I have to be like a little more careful if I'm going to inject at a restaurant. Like now normally do it in the car or something.
M: Like not as like in conspicuous I guess.
L: Oh my gosh. What do you have now that you might not have had without your diabetes?
M: That's a great question. Honestly, my blog, like I, I really feel like, like I may have maybe blogged on another topic but I probably wouldn't have like, I don't know, I can't think of any single thing in my life that's as interesting as diabetes that I would talk about.
L: I love that.
M: Yeah, like I feel like it just, it probably wouldn't exist and if it did exist it would be really lame. Like it wouldn't be anything that would be helpful or, or a resource that would just be something like that is my little slice of the Internet that nobody pays attention to. So I feel like I feel like that. And then I think too, like I've met so many interesting people just by revealing that I have type two and I don't think that I would have the same connections and the same people in my life that I do without that diagnosis. I think things would be a lot different
L: Yes. That makes a lot of sense. And I think it's really exciting that you have all these things. So it seems like your life is very full of things that you want in it.
M: Yeah, totally. And I wouldn't have it any other way.
L: So finish this sentence. This is not what I ordered...
M: I would probably say this is not what I ordered, but I'm glad I got it anyway.
L: Mmmm. I like that. Yeah, it makes sense. Especially given what you just said, which is I wouldn't have it any other way. It's so cool.
L: Well, thank you so much for joining me today.
M: Yeah, thank you for having me. I had so much fun having this conversation with you.