Marisabel had experienced a lot of chest pain and fatigue for the past month. She finally decided to go to the doctor and was shocked when they told her to go to the emergency room. Her blood sugar was almost at 600 mg/dL. A blood glucose of this level could lead to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), requiring a hospital visit, and increasing the risk of other serious complications. She spent the next five days in the emergency room, where the staff gave her a multitude of diabetes self-care information. At first, she didn’t know what to do with it all, but finally, her doctor connected a stressed and confused Marisabel with diabetes educator Sandra.
The two met, and Sandra began working with Marisabel to understand the essentials of living with diabetes. These include checking blood sugar, injecting insulin and making other lifestyle changes based on the AADE7 Self-Care Behaviors. Together they made a plan to help Marisabel lower her A1C. “I learned about the food and just got motivated by Sandra." said Marisabel. "I wasn’t thinking, ‘Oh I have diabetes, I can’t do this.’ No, I was just living my normal life.”
However, lifestyle changes weren’t the only challenge Marisabel faced – she was also afraid of needles. But Marisabel’s daughter was her motivation to overcome this fear. “If she sees me, I would pretend like it’s nothing, like it doesn’t hurt, but you know, I’m really scared,” said Mariasabel. “I would just be brave because if I don’t, I’ll get worse. Take a deep breath and just overcome your fear.”
Diabetes can take a toll on one’s mental health, but when her clients with diabetes are feeling down, Sandra tells them, “You have sick days, but you’re not sick every day.” She uses motivational interviewing and takes the time to get to know each person with whom she works. She becomes their biggest supporter and works with them to determine a treatment plan.
To those who are newly diagnosed with diabetes, Marisabel says, “Think positive. Don’t think because you have diabetes you can’t live your life. Don’t let it bring you down. Motivate yourself, see a diabetes educator and put a goal in your mind.”
Within three months of her diagnosis, Marisabel was able to lower her A1C from 9% to 6.3%, changing the course of her life and greatly reducing the risk of future complications.
“Marisabel is a very strong person,” says Sandra. “It takes a lot of willpower and it’s not easy…but once you do, that’s the tool to success.”