Diabetes is a disease that happens when your blood sugar gets to high. High blood sugar is called hyperglycemia.Blood sugar is our body main source of energy and we get that source from the food we eat.Our pancreas produces insulin, a hormone that is released into the body’s cells to activate that energy.Often,the pancreas stops working or does not work properly. Nobody really knows why, but diabetes, especially type 1( when the pancreas does not work at all) has affected over 1.25 million people. Sadly,my husband, Garren was one of those people.Diabetes made me a widow.
It was 2 months after my husband’s passing , when I got a call from University of Tennessee Forensic Department. I had returned back to work for the same medical college, but I worked in the department of psychiatry.So, when I answered my office phone from an internal number, I knew it was somebody that worked there, but I did not know this call would place me back in shock.
The lady on the phone said ,”is this LaTisha Glaspie-Harris? I replied, “Y,es this is she.” The lady’s voice was calm and she said “Are you sitting down?” I replied, “Yes,may I ask who I am speaking with?” She identified herself and reports she was calling from the forensics department and she had met me ,when Garren died, at my home. I vaguely remembered her or any people from that day. The day that turned into night, that later brought a thunderstorm of rain.As it seem ,it would never stop raining.
However,the lady informed me that Garren’s autopsy revealed he had diabetes. She ask me did I or he know? I replied, ” No”! I asked, “how long had he had it?” She reported he had diabetes, type 1 , according to his blood plasma, Hemoglobin A1C ( a total of blood sugar levels recorded over 3 to 4 months). She reported his cause of death was natural and a gastrointestinal infection triggered a hyperglycemia diabetes crisis.I do not remember when or if I hung up the phone. I remember a co- worker came in my office and I could see her lips moving, but I could not hear her. I had zoned out….. I was in shock, again.
Fast forward from 2015 to 2018, I decided I had to do something!I was hurting so bad internally, I felt like my heart was bleeding inside me. The mental anguish was consuming me. For 3 years, I was on auto pilot. I often felt like, I was walking under water, deaf to voices, sounds, and people and places were unclear.I was sad, tearful,fearful, mad, and alone.Nobody understood me and those damn cliches almost got me a prison jumpsuit(use your coping skills Tisha).
What can I do about this? I texted a co- worker, who had loss her son in a car crash in 2014. She is a nurse. I asked if she knew another co-worker’s number, who worked in Diabetes and Endocrinology when we all were employed for Le Bonheur. She got me the information.I called that co- worker.She had quit and returned to nursing school to become a nurse practitioner,but she was very helpful.She gave me the name and number of a nurse who was a CDE (Certified Diabetes Educator). That nurse became my mentor ,after I shared my story as to why I wanted to become a CDE. She did warn me that my application for the mentorship program would probably be denied due to my advance degree was not nursing. Most CDEs are nurses or doctors. I am a mental health professional/ and or therapist. My application was denied, but my mentor said I will mentor you without payment from the National Board of Certified Diabetes Educators( NBCDE). Look at God putting his people in position.
My journey was tedious, but rewarding!I had to gain 2000 diabetes practice hours instead of the 1000 that nurses have to gain. I had to get 30 CEUs instead of the 15 nurses have to get. I did even better, I got 2,400 hours and 34.50 CEUs. I was not about to be denied for application approval to take the exam. I got glowing recommendations from my mentor, who became a friend and my supervisor at my counseling agency.I developed a psycho education group called “Mental Health and Diabetes” and lead it weekly. September 12, 2019, I was approved by the NBCDE to schedule my CDE’s exam.I am currently studying and praying! I know my husband is proud of me!
I have done:
- Health fairs,
- Attended the Call for Congress of 2019,
- Taught diabetes classes, and
- Became a Certified Lifestyle Coach for the Diabetes Prevention Program.
- Became a Diabetes Advocate with the American Diabetes Association
Over 40, 000 people will get diabetes this year and half of those people will be like my husband,undiagnosed ( don’t know they have it) until it is too late. I want to prevent diabetes and/ or reduce the risk, I want early prevention to be done earlier. I want to educate about the signs and symptoms of diabetes.
Most people do not get tested for diabetes until they are 45( managed care at its’ best) and if their blood sugar level is normal during that testing, they do not get tested again till 3 years later. Diabetes is a chronic disease. It has reached epidemic level and the risk is great, especially for African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans. Asians are at risk too but their Body Mass Index (BMI)is calculated at a lower rate of </= 23.Diabetes stole my husband and I do not want another family to loss their love one because they were not aware.
“God does not call the qualified, he qualifies who he calls! “He place all the right people in my life to get me to my purpose. I said I had to do something! What I decided to do was advocate, educate, and support people with diabetes(pwd).
November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and is Monday is coming again! Let’s fight together against diabetes, cause it sucks!