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How Lynn S. Deals with Diabetes During the Holiday Season

separator Lynn S. was having a difficult day. The last thing she was in the mood to talk about was what she does to manage diabetes during the holiday season. “I’m having such a bad day that I almost canceled this interview,” she said. “I don’t really have anything positive to say.” Lynn was not in a holiday mood.

Lynn’s had diabetes for 22 years, and she’s 56 years old now. Her basic diabetes management plan consists of testing her blood sugar twice a day and trying to eat well. “I try to follow Weight Watchers®,” she says. “But that gets expensive. I do count calories. But you know, sometimes life gets in the way, and it’s hard to eat just the way I’m supposed to. And if I’m feeling stressed out, I want to eat everything in sight.”

Lynn’s job can be stressful at times. She’s a Physician Relations Coordinator for a large healthcare organization, and she spends a lot of time at her desk. “You know, most of the time things are going along okay and I feel like I’m doing just great. But then a bad e-mail comes my way, and it just ruins my day. And I find that if my blood sugar is high, I easily get depressed and weepy, and it makes me lose my motivation.”

She also has some stress at home, because her husband, who also has diabetes, has had heart trouble and can’t work anymore. He’s on disability now. “I’m his caregiver,” she explains.

Lynn’s husband takes insulin now, and his blood sugars are normal, she says. Her doctor is trying to convince her to start taking insulin now too, “but I’m resisting,” she says. “I feel like if I get on it, I’ll never get off.” 

It’s never been easy for Lynn to handle having diabetes. “It took me five years to admit I had diabetes,” she says. “I used to say ‘I just have a little sugar.’ ”

Family, friends’ support a big help
Lynn says it’s helpful to have a spouse who has the same condition she has. “He goes to diet and other programs with me, and that’s nice. Plus now he understands what it’s like. Before he had diabetes, he didn’t know what I was going through.”

Her daughter is supportive as well. She too, used to be a little less understanding about how hard it is to always eat only what you’re supposed to. “But since she had a baby,” Lynn says, “she’s gained a lot of weight. She knows that she’s at risk for diabetes too. My father had it…it’s definitely in our family.”

Holidays more about socializing than eating
For the holidays, Lynn and her husband focus on having a nice time with their friends. Food isn’t the main event for them. “We compromise, and pick some things we really want to eat. You can eat anything in moderation, so that’s what we do.

“Some of our friends have diabetes too, and that also helps. And we don’t drink alcohol. So basically what we do during the holiday season is get support from each other and just try to enjoy ourselves.

Advice for others during the holiday season
First of all, “you can’t ever give up,” says Lynn. “Keep working at it. You might have a day where you eat all kinds of things you shouldn’t, but you have to get back on the horse. The next day it could be a whole lot better, so you just try harder then.”

Lynn feels that it’s easier now to have diabetes than it was when she was first diagnosed. “There are so many more programs you can join today, and there are the artificial sweeteners. When I first found out I had diabetes, I think there was just Tab. [The diet soda that was popular in the 70s.]”

Lynn has had success with programs that focus on healthy eating and getting exercise. “I was in one program for six weeks and I lost 30 pounds. When I do drop the pounds and work out, my blood sugar definitely goes down.”

At the end of the interview, Lynn said, “You know what? At first I was in a horrible mood, but just talking about all this has made me feel better.”

Which points out that if you have diabetes and you’re struggling with the holiday season and its aftermath, remember Lynn’s story. Join a healthy eating and exercise program if you need to jump-start your diabetes management routine. Talk with your diabetes educator if you’re feeling like you need help. Stay connected with your family and friends, and talk about things that are bothering you.

And remember—get back on that horse!

Diabetes Forecast, April 2000; The American Diabetes Association.
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