With Mother’s Day coming up on Sunday, I’ve been going through some posts that highlight mothers, and I must say that I’m pleased! We’ve talked with some pretty amazing women, like Lorraine Sisto, Stefany Shaheen, Lee Ducat and so many more. Their stories are so inspiring! Today I’d like to introduce you to another mom, Amy Froelich, who tweets under the @amydiabetesx2 handle.
In 2010, the younger of Amy’s two daughters was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. “When she came home from the hospital after her diagnosis, we really felt this sensation like when we brought her home after she was born,” she said. “It was something new. When she was born, we went from having one child to two children and had to try to figure that out. Then when she was diagnosed, we went from having two children, to having two, one of which now lives with diabetes. We had to figure out what that meant, and how we were going to handle that, and how it was going to evolve into our normal household thing. We did and it works.”
Shortly after their daughter’s diagnosis, the family stumbled across a family motto – in a fortune cookie. “The fortune read: ‘When one must, one can,’” Amy remembered. “My husband and I just kind of sat down and looked at each other for a couple of minutes. You just don’t picture yourself needing to check your child’s blood sugar and give shots. I would have never thought I could do that. But my child now has type 1 diabetes, so I have to. We just thought that quote was so appropriate for what we were going through at the time. We stuck it on the bottom part of our freezer door. It’s been there for over four years now. It’s not going anywhere. That’s our motto when it comes to diabetes because you’ve just got to do it.”
Two years later, Amy started experiencing extreme thirst and waking up with headaches. Based on her experience with her daughter’s type 1 diabetes, those symptoms made her wary. When she tested her blood sugar, it was high. “I wasn’t too happy when I saw that first blood sugar,” she said. “My first thought was like, ‘Oh, no. Okay, here we go.’” A visit to the doctor and an A1C level of 7.8 percent confirmed Amy’s diagnosis.
As a statistics professor, Amy, who now lives with type 2 diabetes, turned to research after both diagnoses. “Because I’m a researcher as my career, I went to journal articles to look at different aspects of both type 1 and type 2,” she said. “Then one of the big things that really helped me with type 1 diabetes, but also my type 2, was Gary Scheiner’s book, ‘Think Like a Pancreas,’” she said. “I also read “Blood Sugar 101: What They Don’t Tell You about Diabetes” by Jenny Ruhl. Those two things were particularly helpful as I was trying to figure out how I was going to manage my blood sugar.”
Amy’s family is very supportive. “Both my daughters are very understanding when I’ll say I can’t eat much of a certain food or that I’m just going to eat half of those served,” she said. “My husband is very supportive of that, too. Really our whole family has been incredibly supportive with my daughter’s diabetes, as well. My parents don’t live where we live, but they come over on a regular basis, and my mom will take care of my daughters. We also do the JDRF walk as a family every year to raise money. My older daughter has always been a part of our diabetes experiences in the family and part of that is just because she’s so nurturing. One year she drew one of the pictures on our walk team t-shirts. She’s been great.”
While there are some differences in their daily management, Amy and her youngest daughter find moments to connect through diabetes. “When I get home from work, I’ll check my blood sugar and she’ll check her blood sugar,” she said. “We always have a little guessing contest on who’s lower or who’s higher or who’s more in range. She likes to actually do my testing for me, which is kind of fun. She’s so used to me doing her blood sugar test over the years that she’s like, ‘Oh, I’ll do it for you.’ We also talk about how many carbs are in foods and how many did she eat and how many did I eat.”
In 2013 Amy started blogging about her experiences at Diabetes x 2. “It seemed like so many people in the diabetes online community (DOC) knew about living with type 1, or supporting a child living with type 1, and other people, though not as many, were dealing with managing type 2,” she said. “I didn’t feel like a whole lot of people had experience with both type 1 and type 2. I thought it might be fun to add a different voice to the DOC because some of the aspects of type 2 may make more sense if you understand type 1, and vice versa.”
Regardless of type, Amy wishes more people understood the complexity of living with diabetes. “I think one of the big things to understand is that it’s not easy; it’s hard,” she said. “Those first couple of times I went to the grocery store after I was diagnosed, I was so frustrated. Just finding things that I could eat that don’t have a ton of carbs was really hard. Plus add on the whole guilt and blaming aspect to it, which I don’t see often with other chronic conditions. It’s not easy to deal with and we’re doing the best we can. Neither type is easy. Neither one of them is much fun at all. They’re both a big pain and nobody wants to have it.”
As a mother, one of Amy’s simple joys is watching her daughters grow up. “I’ve always been the mom that appreciates the stage they’re in,” she said. “I don’t miss it when they’ve gone past a stage to something else. I’ve always appreciated the little girl time, but I don’t miss it now that they’re getting older. That to me is the best part about it, just seeing how they’ve changed over the years and watching them develop. Part of me just can’t wait to see what they’re going to be like as adults. I really like seeing them grow. They’re great kids.”
I can relate to Amy’s sentiment of loving the growth process of her children. Not a day goes by that I don’t marvel at something new about my daughter, and count myself lucky to be a part of the process. I admire how dedicated Amy is to her daughter’s care, as well as her own, and how willingly she shares her experiences with the DOC. My thanks to her for sharing her story.
All the best,
Disclosure: Amy Froelich received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.