Carmilla lives in Overland Park, Kansas, and has been widowed for 32 years. In addition to fishing and gardening, she also cares for her animals — a cat, a fish, and five birds. She has one son and works for the school district. This is her story.
Can you tell us a bit about your Type 2 diabetes diagnosis?
I first moved to Kansas 22 years ago and I applied at the school district. I went in to get a complete physical and started working at the school in 1998. About 2 years later, I started feeling sick. I was really thirsty, and I would have dreams that I would be under a water spigot but I couldn’t quench my thirst. I would wake up in the middle of the night to get water. I started getting a pain in the middle of my body.
When I went to see my doctor, she wasn’t there, so I saw a nurse practitioner. She came in with my records in her hand. She started leafing through the pages of my medical records and she says, “I see what you’re taking for high blood pressure and high cholesterol, but I don’t see what you’re taking for diabetes.” And I said, “That’s because I don’t have diabetes.” She leafed through some more and said, “Yes, you do.” I got scared because my grandfather died from complications of diabetes and no one ever said anything to me about it.
She left and came back and said, “You were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 1998.” And I said, “Where?! Nobody ever told me!” I guess my numbers were high enough to be diagnosed, but they were trying to control it with diet and exercise, which I did for the next 4 years.
I still had this pain in the middle of my body, and then they put me on oral medication.
How did you learn about Livongo?
I went to my doctor because I didn’t check my blood sugar every day the way I was supposed to. I got a meter on sale. After about 6 months, it started showing high numbers. I took my meter to the doctor and told her something was wrong because it was showing my numbers high. They used their meter at the office and she told me to get rid of mine because it wasn’t giving accurate readings.
When I was searching for another meter, I got a notification about Livongo and how I could get strips for free. So I filled out the paperwork and I came home from school and there was a box on my doorstep. It was my Livongo meter and I’ve been using it since March.
What’s your favorite part about Livongo?
It encourages me to check every day. I like how it gives me encouragement or it tells me that my sugar is a little high. I like how it records my blood sugar, and it gives me little tips on what to do. When it tells me to exercise, I pull out my trampoline and get some activity in.
What’s your motivation?
Staying alive as long as I can. My grandfather died from diabetes complications, my mother had it, and out of 10 kids, four of us have diabetes. My motivation is staying healthy as long as I can, and I’m thinking of retiring this year because the school system is scaring me. I want to retire and live.
What are you doing differently?
I check myself every day. Once in a while, I’ll come home and go to sleep, or I’d be so hungry I eat before I check. The biggest difference is that I used to only check once a month.
With this, I’m motivated to check my blood sugar. I want to make sure that my numbers are in range and I like those little encouraging [nudges]. I didn’t know 15 minutes of exercise would impact my blood sugar. I knew I needed to exercise, but I would do a little more. I didn’t know stress would raise your blood sugar. I should start writing them down so I remember them. All those little hints are really helpful to me. Something changed and I’m really motivated to check my blood sugar on a regular basis, [something] that I wasn’t doing before.
How would you describe Livongo?
It encourages you to think about your diabetes and to do something about it.
I actually caught myself describing it to my sister-in-law a couple of months ago because she has diabetes. I told her that it encourages me to check my blood sugar, it gives me little hints, they send me everything I need in terms of supplies. And she said, “Oh, you got Livongo? I have that, too!"