By: Meagan Esler
I’m just going to come out and say it, the way people do in addiction meetings when they have hit “rock bottom.” Hi, my name is Meagan. I was a very uncooperative diabetic for a great many years. I felt lonely, and I hated being different. I rarely checked my blood sugars. In fact, there were times where I didn’t even know where my meter was.
I was diagnosed as a teenager with type 1 diabetes. I didn’t want to change, didn’t want to take shots, count carbohydrates, or test my blood, and certainly didn’t want to go to the doctor. I stubbornly dug in my heels and simply refused to fully take care of myself. In the early days, I fooled a lot of people into thinking I was okay, that I knew what I was doing (with the exception of my doctors). But fooling people wasn’t doing me any favors. I was truly only hurting myself.
I took the shots I was “supposed” to take with my doctor’s direction, but nothing to correct because I barely tested my blood sugars. I drank, stayed out late, and ignored my diabetes. I married someone who was completely unaccepting of my diabetes, and with no one to stop me, my finger was on the self-destruct button.
I finally realized there was a problem when my husband started making hurtful comments about how “damaged” I was. While I was battling an infection, ending up in the doctor’s office several weeks in a row, the comments got worse. During an a argument, he told me he wished I would just die, and I found my rock bottom. I didn’t want to die. I needed to take better care of myself. As soon as I was back on my feet, I left. My diabetes and I deserved better.
A short time later, I began dating a man who was accepting of my diabetes from day one. He was genuinely concerned about my behavior, and he called me on it. He gently pushed me to make better choices, like testing my blood sugar more often and taking care of myself. He told me he wanted me to stay healthy so we could have a long life together.
Thirteen years after our marriage, he still praises me for testing. He wakes me when I accidentally fall asleep on the couch to make sure I test, take my long-lasting insulin, and eat something. He sympathizes as I rant about diabetes. He checks on me in the mornings to make sure I’m not low. He walks with me or stands smiling at the sidelines when I participate in my diabetes fundraising events.
I am proud to say I earned the American Diabetes Association titles “Red Rider” and “Red Strider” last year. The Tour de Cure and Step Out walk were a big part of finding my strength and meeting others like me. My husband is my diabetes cheerleader to the end. He lives with me through the ups and downs of diabetes every day: crying when I cry, smiling when I smile, and, oh yes – swearing when I swear.
His support is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is no blame, no spirit-crushing words, only unconditional love and support. He is my hero. I will always remember the difficulties I’ve been through and the mistakes I’ve made to get here, but today – my name is Meagan, and I’m a proud, supported, and strong diabetic.