The DX regularly features The DX Diabetes Dish, a profile about life and life with diabetes. Meri Schuhmacher is the mother of four boys, three of whom are living with type 1 diabetes. In 2012, Meri lost her husband to cancer. Muddling her way through the nonstop challenges of diabetes and tremendous grief, Meri always tries to look on the bright side. She’s a well-known advocate within the Diabetes Online Community, and shares her stories at Our Diabetic Life. Meri took a few minutes out of her busy life to dish with us.
What is your state of mind today?
What three words would you use to describe who you are?
Hopeful. Mother. Advocate.
What words would describe your boys?
Resilient. Strong. Brave. Funny. Kind.
What would you say to inspire other moms and caregivers?
You can’t do better than your best. The fact that you try, and you care, means you are winning. As parents, we like to downplay our efforts, and find fault in everything we do. Try to remember your contributions are significant, and your efforts are always meaningful.
What inspires you to do what you do?
I was alone once. I was on the dark side of grief and felt weighted down with the worry and responsibility diabetes has to offer. Now that I’ve made my way to the other side of that, I write and reach out to let others know that they are not alone. Finding each other can be exhilarating and life-changing. The power of “same” can’t be quantified.
What do you appreciate most in your friends?
They show up. They aren’t afraid to let me know I am of value. They make it a point to let me know I’m loved and thought of, and they are generous to a fault.
What would you pack for your favorite vacation?
Obviously, insulin and a suitcase full of diabetes supplies. Sunscreen, a good book, and four different pairs of flip flops.
What’s in your refrigerator right now?
Leftover oven tacos from last night. Vitaminwater®1, yogurt, chicken, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, onions, four gallons of milk, butter, two dozen eggs, bacon, cheese, apple juice for lows, and twenty-four vials of insulin!
What is your favorite way to relieve stress?
Writing. Absolutely, writing. When I’m lost, down, or confused, I write it out. I sit down at the screen and let my hands release all my emotions onto my virtual paper. It helps me think things through, and more than anything, helps me to sleep better at night.
What is your idea of happiness?
Love. Knowing I am loved, and loving others. I can’t think of a worse prison than thinking I am alone and completely insignificant.
What do you most dislike?
Bitterness. Hopelessness. Negativity.
What words do you try to live by?
My tagline is: Loving my best. Trying my best. Hoping my best.
What is your greatest fear?
Losing my husband [Ryan] was my greatest fear. After I lost him to cancer last year, my greatest fear was not seeing him again. I’ve since worked through those emotions and now live with the fear of losing one of my children. Also, I fear of dying myself. I’m not afraid to die … actually, seeing Ryan again is a completely thrilling prospect. I just don’t want my children to face that kind of grief again for a long, long time.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Doing anything for myself. Pedicures, hair appointments, and nights out with my friends.
On what occasion do you lie?
When one of my boys is throwing up, and has large ketones, I’m really good at telling them it’s no big deal. I lie, telling them I’m not worried, when inside, I’m falling to pieces.
What is your favorite movie?
I have to stick with The Princess Bride. Although, I’m a movie fanatic and enjoy seeing flicks from every genre. As a side note, I don’t think I can ever get enough of Tony Stark from Iron Man.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Outwardly, it would be my extra pounds. Inwardly, I would be more patient behind distracted drivers.
Who are your heroes in real life?
I honestly think everyone is a hero. It isn’t easy living on this earth, as hard times are a way of life. Enduring the hardship and finding a way to shine regardless of your circumstance puts you high on my list. More than anyone though, each one of my boys is my hero. When I was knee-deep in the wasteland of grief, they were the symphony that raised me out of the ashes of our loss.
What would be your favorite meal of all time?
I’m all about comfort food. Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, a vegetable medley, and chopped salad would be the bomb!
All opinions contained in this article reflect those of the interviewee and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies, or affiliates.
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© 2013 The DX: The Diabetes Experience