During my husband’s illness, I put off taking care of my health. I always thought there would be time to deal with it later. My husband’s health was my priority.
The doctors were concerned about my weight, my high blood pressure, my racing pulse, chronic pain, and a host of other issues. I wasn’t sleeping well or eating right and I certainly wasn’t exercising.
After my husband died
It didn’t get any easier. I had to find a way to support my family on my own. My time was at a premium and my grief kept me in the throes of depression. I gained even more weight. All of my health issues worsened.
Then, on my birthday, a year and a half after my husband died, I ended up in the ER. I thought it could be COVID-19. My legs were filled with fluid. My heart rate and blood pressure were through the roof and my head felt like it was going to explode. To top it off I would get these terrible sweats and that month it had become difficult to stay awake for longer than an hour. I was so fatigued.
When I got to the ER
The alarms were going off due to my wacky vital signs. They tested everything—my heart, my lungs, my blood. All of the results came back looking fine with one exception. I had a very high blood glucose level. And I hadn’t eaten anything all day!
The ER doctor told me to check in with my primary care provider.
I waited until after the holidays; another two weeks.
I went in and requested an A1C. He didn’t think it would show anything, but he did it anyway, along with other blood work like cholesterol levels and such. My A1C was 9.9, very high. My cholesterol and fasting blood glucose were also high.
I was diabetic, type 2.
I went home and began to research diabetes. Even though I knew everything I could about lung cancer I knew nothing about a disease that plagued most of my family for generations. I had no idea how it affected the body, how one became diabetic, and how to live as a diabetic.
All about the health problems associated with diabetes were the ones I had been living with for years. I was on the road to an early grave and it was paved with a poor diet and inactivity.
I was about to change all of that.
After learning about the glycemic index and that was how I was going to regulate my blood sugar, I went to the store and bought a cartload of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, eggs, and healthy dairy like low-fat Greek yogurt. It worked! Within 2 weeks actually had to go off of one of the medications the doctor put me on because my blood sugar levels were too low. I lost 25 pounds in 3 months! When I went in for my follow-up A1C it was 5.6. That’s perfect.
Why I am sharing this
The reason I share this story is that my journey isn’t over. Every day I have to watch what I eat when I eat and try to get more exercise. I feel a million times better than I did before. I have so much more energy. If only my husband could see me now. I could have been a better caregiver if I had been healthier back then.
Caregivers, Take Care of Your Health
Take care of your health. Prioritize is like you would a family member’s health. If you don’t, it could have long-lasting consequences.
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ABOUT HEATHER ERICKSON
In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.
My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on Amazon.com
Also, check out Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer.
Also, put your memories into words with The Memory Maker’s Journal.
I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker