Yalonda is a rehabilitation counselor who lives in Michigan and loves to cook and bake. She spends a lot of time with her boyfriend and has an adult son who has inspired her to get back to cooking healthy homemade meals. This is her story.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am 46. I am a rehabilitation counselor for the State of Michigan right now. My boyfriend is here — you can say he lives here even though he doesn’t. I have multiple sclerosis (MS) and I’m trying to ward off any other diagnosis which led me to this program. I love to cook. I’ve been doing a lot of different stuff with cod, shrimp, and salmon recently. Outside of cooking, I like to scrapbook because I love pictures.
Can you tell us about your diagnosis?
I was diagnosed with MS in 2012. This might sound funny, but I think the diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes was worse for me because I love food so much. I really did cry a lot with the diabetes diagnosis. I felt like the diagnosis was going to be a lot of, “You can’t eat, you can’t have, you can’t do.” But Livongo and my primary care doctor, who has been absolutely amazing, have shown me it’s not that I “can’t have,” but I have to learn how to eat certain things and when. I didn’t know time was really important for when you eat certain things. And being active isn’t a gym membership.
I am a baker. I love to bake fresh breads and cakes, but I’ve learned to bake and cut my portion and give the rest away because I don’t believe in waste, which was my excuse for eating everything.
My primary care doctor is nurturing. I can go to him and cry. My neurologist is the father in my medical relationship. He’s like, “Man up and do what you have to do to get this under control.” He told me that diabetes was an autoimmune condition and I couldn’t afford to have another autoimmune condition going on.
What kind of symptoms did you have?
The first thing I complained about was not sleeping through the night because I had to constantly get up and urinate through the night, and I couldn’t stop drinking fluids because I was always thirsty. My primary care doctor did the blood work and my A1c was high. Thirty days later, he did it again and said, “Okay, this is what we’re going to do.”
I’m not a medicine person. Because of all the medications they were giving me for the MS, I didn’t want to take any more. So, I asked what my options were to manage my diabetes.
I ended up making myself sick because I was scared to eat. I would eat very small portions and wasn’t getting enough nutrients. When I did test, I would get numbers like 78 and I said, “Okay! I’m cured,” and my doctor said no and explained the ranges that I had to be in. Like my other diagnosis, I have to listen to my body and get on a schedule, cook healthier, and eat healthier. I don’t deny myself, but I know how to eat in moderation now. Like, this bread that I’m trying to get used to, this multigrain bread is monstrous, but it’s better for me. I’m making small changes.
What have you learned through your conditions and management?
I’ve learned to follow directions and to listen to what my body tells me. I know how I feel when I need to eat something, I know that when I feel my sugar is high, I can’t sit down, and I have to burn off the extra energy. I know that I have to exercise before I eat or do some kind of activity after so that I can keep my blood sugars even.
When I’m not feeling well, I know that it spikes my blood sugar. I know it has more to do with your whole self and not just what you eat.
When did you first hear about Livongo and what did you think about it?
My doctor told me to look into it because another one of his patients was using it. It turned out to be really helpful.
How do you use Livongo?
I talked to a coach once. I share the reports with my doctor. I like the Health Nudges I get. I have it set up that I’ll get a call if I’m out of range and that’s only happened twice. I had a meal plan sent to me the other day that focused on seafood and I said, “Wow! That’s my thing right now.” It makes me accountable since it reminds me to check my blood sugar. I plan my meals around what my ranges are. It helps my doctor explore what’s going on with me because I always tested higher in the morning than at night. It’s making me realize that you shouldn’t just check and forget, but to make sure you’re in range so you can go about your day.
What’s your motivation?
One thing is my son, who I love dearly. My son is 28. [He] is the most important reason. I want to be healthy. I don’t want to live and be miserable. So, if I can stabilize one part of my health, I know I should be able to stabilize this part.
How have your changes helped you daily?
My son was away from home and I started buying a lot of processed foods and quick, frozen meals. Now that my son is home, I’ve been cooking with more fresh vegetables and I’ve been eating healthier. The markets here show you how to cut and cook fish. It’s gotten me to eat healthier and to also know what’s in my food.
Where do you see your life going from here?
Getting healthier. That [diabetes] diagnosis might be on my medical chart, but it won’t be present in my life. One, because I want to be healthy, and two, I don’t want to pay for another prescription.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen since using Livongo?
I’m taking more responsibility with the results that I get back from testing. I think my taste buds are even better now. I love food again. I enjoy food again. My coach taught me to eat until I was satisfied instead of until I was stuffed. That wasn’t my relationship with food. I was brought up with the idea that if it’s on your plate, you eat it.
How would you describe Livongo?
Livongo is a tool to teach you how to better manage your diabetes. Because I was newly diagnosed when my doctor told me about it, it wasn’t even 9 months. Then the State of Michigan told me that Livongo was covered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The meter I had from my doctor didn’t hold me accountable. Livongo isn’t pushy about testing but knowing they’re there to help me makes me want to check myself.