Linsay Williams, a medical assistant at the Fort Gratiot Medical Weight Loss Clinic location, knows firsthand that living with Type 1 diabetes is no easy feat.
Insulin injections are expensive, and her insurance co-pay is too high for her to afford a more convenient pump. She has to bring needles through airport security, which isn’t always handled as discreetly as she’d like. As she struggled to manage her diabetes in her teens, Linsay was hospitalized several times. And a scary experience with confused EMS workers while she was unresponsive led her to get a tattoo on her wrist that says “diabetes Type 1” to avoid a repeat situation.
These are just some of the examples of how the autoimmune disease has challenged Linsay since she received the diagnosis in 1995 when she was 10 years old.
“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. This isn’t something that goes away; it’s nonstop.”
It’s stories like hers that make fundraising events like the Sept. 8 Tour de Cure on Belle Isle so meaningful. The run/walk benefits the American Diabetes Association. Linsay said events like this are important because they raise needed funds and critical awareness of Types 1 and 2 diabetes. Now is the time to donate to Tour de Cure or join the team at Medical Weight Loss Clinic to participate.
“People don’t think diabetes is a big deal. They don’t look at you and see that you’re sick,” she said, adding that more people need to know about diabetes. When she met her husband, the illness was something he had to learn about.
“So many adults out there don’t know. Why not make people aware of diabetes, the signs and the symptoms and everything else, because there’s a ton of us around,” Linsay said.
According to the American Diabetes Association, 30.3 million Americans — 9.4 percent of the population — had diabetes in 2015. Of those, 1.25 million had Type 1 like Linsay. Meanwhile, over 7 million cases were undiagnosed.
After her own diagnosis, Linsay’s parents were instrumental in making sure her symptoms were managed. But she said she struggled when she became a teenager and had the freedom to make more of her own choices.
“There were times I made bad choices. I was a kid, but I learned consequences real quick. I would get extremely sick — stomach aches, vomiting, I couldn’t go to school. I missed sporting events. I kind of learned real quick what I could and couldn’t get away with,” she said.
Now, being a busy mom of three often on the go with her kids’ sports presents its own challenges as she focuses on her family and working full time.
“It’s harder to manage as an adult because it’s only you, and now I’m responsible for kids and myself,” she said. Linsay makes sure to take time for herself in the morning before her kids are up and then works out for 20-30 minutes at the end of the day.
That self-care inspires patients she sees at MWLC. Linsay said many diabetic patients gravitate toward her, because they know she can relate to their struggles and successes. Not only is she an example of someone living well with diabetes, but she completed a MWLC program herself, losing 100 pounds in a year.
Linsay gained 80 pounds and was on bed rest while pregnant with her daughter in 2008. Afterward, she struggled to juggle her marriage, life with a newborn and working full time, while taking care of herself.
“I knew I had to change my life.”
She gave the program a try herself and succeeded. A MWLC employee for 15 years, Linsay inspires and supports patients with examples from her own life.
“This isn’t a job to me; this is part of my life,” she said.
It’s often hard for diabetics to lose weight, and Linsay said endocrinologists typically direct their diabetic patients to a dietician, but that MWLC helps them in ways dieticians don’t necessarily. While a dietician usually helps patients learn how to control their sugar levels, MWLC focuses on how they can do that in a way to lose weight.
Her message for others living with diabetes is to take care of themselves.
“There is so many nasty side effects of not taking care of yourself — your vision, your limbs, your kidney, your liver, your heart — and it’s so easy to get away from what you should be doing.”
If you are ready for guidance in creating a healthy meal plan that will help you manage your diabetes and lose weight, contact Medical Weight Loss Clinic for a free consultation at 248-GET-SLIM or click here to schedule online.