In September of 2014 Eugenia was overweight, suffered from asthma and had chronic sinus infections. She wasn’t feeling well when she woke up one morning, but attributed it to a sinus infection. “I got up and just didn’t feel good,” said Eugenia. “I had been on steroids and antibiotics – my head felt heavy. I remember talking to my little dog and saying, ‘Mama needs to call the doctor.’”
She made an appointment with her local physician then drove herself to the office. “I was so sick I honestly thought I was going to die. I prayed the whole drive. By the time I got there I couldn’t get out of the car,” she said. “I looked over and there was a man sitting in the car next to me. I motioned for him to help me.” Once inside Eugenia was immediately taken by ambulance to Herrin Hospital.
Eugenia was unaware she was a diabetic
A blood sugar level of 1013 got her admitted to the intensive care unit for a five day stay. “The doctors and nurses were wonderful to me,” said Eugenia. “I wish I could remember their names so I could thank them.” Eugenia was educated on how to test her blood sugar level and how to give herself insulin. “I didn’t do too well with the needle, so I used the pin.” At one point she was sticking herself eight times a day; four to check her levels and four for shots.
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. Only 5% of people with diabetes have this form of the disease.
In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. The body breaks down the sugars and starches you eat into a simple sugar called glucose, which it uses for energy. Insulin is a hormone that the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body. With the help of insulin therapy and other treatments, even young children can learn to manage their condition and live long, healthy lives.
Some people with type 2 diabetes have symptoms so mild that they go unnoticed.
Common symptoms of diabetes:
- Urinating often
- Feeling very thirsty
- Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating
- Extreme fatigue
- Blurry vision
- Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
- Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)
- Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)
Eugenia said the education she received at Herrin Hospital regarding her diet has played a major role in her return to good health.
“Before I really didn’t watch anything I ate. I just ate whatever I wanted. It took me a while to really get serious. I had to teach myself to live again,” she said.
Eugenia and her late husband, David, operated a farm near the Olney, Illinois area. “He was a big man, and I did a lot of cooking,” said the 73-year-old. Now 50 pounds lighter, she has learned how to prepare her meals to be healthy and she also documents her blood sugar readings in a journal daily. “Today it is 82,” she said with a smile.
“I have a new lease on life”
Since taking charge of her health by losing weight and walking when she’s able, Eugenia is no longer on any insulin medication.
“I used the money I was spending on medication to buy a new car,” she laughed. Eugenia now prepares most of her meals at home, but does treat herself to an occasional piece of Russell Stover sugar free candy or Cracker Barrel sugar free syrup. Since her life style change Eugenia has had less asthma attacks, urinary tract and bladder infections.
“There was no family history of diabetes in my family. Now I tell everyone I can to watch what they eat and to get tested,” she said.
Eugenia keeps all the learning materials she received from the hospital on the refrigerator to remind her to take care of herself. “I have a new lease on life.”