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A Type 1 rollercoaster ride

One of our community members, Sonette Smith, reached out to share her Type 1 diabetes journey with us, in the hopes that it might help someone else.

Being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes

I was diagnosed just after turning 13, at the start of high school. I had a time of waking up with leg cramps every morning and had to avoid sugar for a weekend, so the doctor could do a blood test early on the Monday morning. The reading showed a solid 18 and I was taken to the local hospital. I remember the orange cap injections and having to move to another hospital, away from home, for more treatment options.

A rollercoaster ride

10 years of diabetes involved numerous DKA episodes, rebel phases with irresponsible handling of both insulin and food and many depressive days that most didn’t even realise. There were very serious hypos also, which included seizures and events that most of us struggle to even spell out. An experience with misdiagnosis in my early twenties led to an increased focus of my inability to have this “under control”. The outcome, however, was a renewed spirit of do-or-die that kept me going to this day.

Juggling the corporate world and quitting smoking

As time went by, the workplace kept highlighting the sad truth that corporate was not the world for me. Complications also started to set in and I couldn’t understand why it was so difficult to “fit in”, despite the evident physical differences between myself and coworkers. The end of that journey came at the high price of stepping out and going solo, all in favour of sanity and survival.

Almost at the end of this time though, I had the massive breakthrough of stopping smoking. After 20 years of more smoking than not, it was one of my biggest accomplishments ever. This is where my wellness journey took a turn towards the better and helped me overcome many other obstacles thereafter.

How essential oils helped me

I started using essential oils to enhance my health and for mental health support. Essential oils create feelings of upliftment in me. They hep make me feel more motivated and also to assist with focus, grounding and helping to reach that sought-after serenity during or after a stressful day.

  • Headaches: Peppermint and PastTense (a blend of essential oils) have been so helpful.
  • Ditching the double espresso morning habit: Lemon and Pink Pepper provide the most refreshing replacement ever. In broader health terms I need to state that the double espresso was never where coffee intake ended for the day. This bad habit of too many coffees a day has been replaced with filtered water and a minimal amount of essential oil to support the action.
  • Digestion: I was diagnosed with gastroparesis in 2015. My symptoms were mainly extreme heartburn and constipation, but there was also more non-apparent challenges. With the ZenGest digestive blend and better blood sugar control over the last few years, the heartburn is non existent and digestive health only affected during certain stages of my menstrual cycle.
  • Menstrual cycle: I have support for this in the ClaryCalm roller blend specifically for women. A regular cycle was also not attainable for many years with poor control, which I can track successfully at the moment.
  • The pesky highs: Smart & Sassy blend provides metabolic support and it helps me inject less when blood sugar is higher than 10. I use this during daytime only and not late afternoons, so as to limit nighttime hypos. I also use Frankincense, Copaiba and Turmeric essential oil for overall support and my latest A1C is 6.9, after a few pump occlusions causing quite high readings.

Natural solutions are often frowned upon for a variety of reasons. The use of any treatment however is one that needs to be considered and tailored for efficacy. My insulin pump remains, albeit with basal or bolus changes needed, and my days start with the thought that today is another beautiful way to make a change with what the earth has to offer.

Despite what might be said and thought, every day could possibly be a bumpy, terrifying ride. Let me tell you though, the view from up there is magnificent.

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Sweet Life is a registered NPO/PBO (220-984) with a single goal: to improve diabetes in South Africa. We are funded by sponsorships and donations from aligned companies and organisations who believe in our work. We only share information that we believe benefits our community. While some of this information is linked to specific brands, it is not an official endorsement of that brand. We believe in empowering people with diabetes to make the best decisions they can, to live a healthy, happy life with diabetes.