My road to Type 2 diabetes began when I was nine years old. After I had dislocated my hip roughhousing on the playground, I remember going to the doctor and him expressing his concerns with my mother. In hushed tones, he told her that I was on the fast track to hypertension and prediabetes. He shared a chart with her showing what a child my height and age should weigh. She listened while we were in the office but was dismissive on the ride home. I asked her what the doctor was talking about with curiosity. I’m paraphrasing here, but she said something like, “Aww baby, he was just talking about how we need to get you smaller. You’re fine. That chart was for little white kids.” In my childish summation, I thought everything was ok. I deduced that because I was African American, it was ok if I was bigger. So I ate more, moved less, and thirteen years later, I was full circle in the doctor’s office getting diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
I remember my diagnosis like it was yesterday. Feb. 8, 2012. It was a routine yearly physical. Mr. Randall, my boyfriend and best friend, had come with me to get his physical and was sitting in the waiting room by the time I got news. I was sitting on the table when the nurse poked her head in the door. With a furrowed brow, she quizzed me. “Did you fast before you got here?” Yes. “What was the last thing you ate?” Shrimp scampi. “How long have you had diabetes?” WHAT?! She confirmed my illness with, “Yes honey. Your sugar is 288 and your A1C is 11.” I would later learn that this WAS. NOT. GOOD. I went through the five stages of grief in about two minutes: This can’t be true… How the *** is this real!?… If my mama would have listened earlier… Oh God, my life is over… Chill out Shana, you got this. The nurse gave me a crash course in testing my sugar, sent my prescriptions to CVS and sent me on my merry way. I greeted Mr. Randall in the waiting room, we got in the car and I told him the news. He just nodded and we headed home in silence, reflecting. For weeks, we knew something was wrong with me. I had frequent headaches, dizziness, peeing all the time, the whole shebang.
After my diagnosis, I started to educate myself. According to the article, Black Women and Fat, by Alice Randall. “FOUR out of five black women are seriously overweight. One out of four middle-aged black women has diabetes.” Whoa. That scared me. According to www.cdc.gov, “Non-Hispanic blacks have the highest age-adjusted rates of obesity (47.8%) followed by Hispanics (42.5%)” Ouch. That made me feel some type of way. My research took me back to the ride home from the doctor’s office with my mother. It’s not her fault. Soul/comfort food, not exercising and distrust of doctors is engrained in our culture. It’s psychological and it runs deep. I don’t have the background or credentials to give the issue justice. I can only speak for my experience and what I know. It’s 2014, two years after my initial diagnosis. I know I’m on my way to self-management. I’ve lost 25 lbs since and I’ve run three 5K’s. I have a long way to go but had I not been tested during my physical, I would have been living in blissful ignorance today. Ladies, take responsibility for your health. Educate your children and show them the right way. Get tested because knowing is half the battle.
Shana is a 25 year old communications professional who took her health into her own hands and started her weight loss journey mid 2010, but really took charge when she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2012. She will be launching her health and fitness blog Big Boned Gets Toned! on May 6, 2014. You can view her Big Boned Gets Toned! weight loss vlog on youtube http://ow.ly/vbvYs