Making Lemonade

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By: Kathy Kochan

I am a survivor and proud of it. Not only have I lived withdiabetes for 52 years, since the age of five, but I am also a breastcancer survivor for over fifteen years.

Living with diabetes was not easy as a child in the mid-fifties. Itwas a real hassle having to test my urine, and no one ever told meto empty my bladder first or how to count carbs. Who knows how Isurvived this long? I really believe that walking to school eachday benefited me.

Diabetes is definitely genetic in my family. Both my grandfathershad diabetes, as did my father and two of his siblings. A couple ofyears after I became diabetic, my sister also got it. One of mybrothers got type 2 in his fifties. So far, only my mother andyoungest brother do not have diabetes.

I was thrilled that neither of my two sons got diabetes, and then myyounger son got diabetes just before his twenty-fifth birthday. Myolder son is still okay, but the worst day of my life was when histhree-year-old daughter got diabetes. I knew it was not my fault,but I was just devastated to think that our darling granddaughterwould have to take four shots a day. She is doing well and has nofear of needles. When I was a little girl, the shots hurt so muchthat to this day I am afraid of needles.

I am proud of the fact that I have coped with diabetes without anycomplications. I have worked hard at trying to maintain good bloodsugars. Since beginning on the pump about fourteen years ago, I havemaintained my A1c at around 6%. I do exercise every day, even whenI don't want to. It certainly has helped me maintain good health.When you feel good, you look good, and when you look good, you feeleven better.

I never kept my diabetes a secret, just in case I did get low bloodsugar. I am prone to more lows than highs, even though I take atotal of only about 15 units of Novolog a day.

I always believed that something good comes out of something bad. Ithought for sure that my life was over when I was diagnosed withbreast cancer at the age of 42 and had to undergo chemo andradiation. It was not a comfortable situation, but I am a survivor.I made lemonade out of lemons by not letting diabetes or cancer dragme down.

It was after going through all those chemo injections in addition toinsulin shots that I went on the pump, and I've never regretted it.Taking one needle every three days to insert the pump is so muchbetter than three or more shots a day. I just hate needles.

Before my sons moved out of the house, I was the only person withdiabetes in the household. I had to learn to cook so that I couldeat correctly, and they all were happy with what I made. I love tocook and bake, and my favorite food is cookies. I learned toprepare foods the healthy way, and I continue to prepare dessertalmost every night.

My men, family, and friends were all satisfied with what Iprepared, and they loved my cookies, cakes, pies, and other tastydesserts made without artificial sweeteners. People with diabetescan incorporate sugar into their meals but must watch the carbs. MyCraving Chocolate Cheesecake is the ultimate dessert that I can eatand not have to worry about blood sugar swings.

At my oldest son's suggestion, I wrote my first cookbook. It soldvery well, so I started teaching cooking classes and lecturing onhealthy cooking. I never attended a culinary school nor went tocollege, but have done very well in helping others learn how toprepare foods the easy yet healthy way.

Even though my sons have their own families, I still cook and bakefor my husband and guests and enjoy preparing foods that fit into mymeal plan and satisfy everyone else. I have learned to preparerecipes using a minimum of fat, salt, and sugar while retainingflavor and texture. My latest cookbook contains over 300 recipesthat even the novice cook can prepare. I am fortunate to have a verysupporting husband who loves to taste-test whatever I make.

If I can survive diabetes for 52 years and breast cancer for overfifteen, so can you. A positive attitude is important since younever get a break from living with diabetes. It is your life, and ifyou want a satisfying life, you must work on it yourself.

Eating correctly and taking the correct medication are only partof good diabetes care. I believe that daily exercise is a majorcomponent to healthy living. I personally hate to exercise, but itis definitely worth the effort. My blood sugars are usually withinthe required range, and my weight is just fine. Exercise anddrinking water throughout the day also help your skin.

Please join me in learning to accept life with diabetes and make thebest of it. Turn those lemons in lemonade and enjoy life.

Kathy Kochan's website can be found at www.healthyeatingcookbooks.com. Her email addressis k.kochan@att.net.

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