Living with Type 1 diabetes, local mom finds support through Diabetes Sisters
Diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes as a teenager, Anna Norton had few places to go for support and advice. She found what she was looking for in Diabetes Sisters, which holds its fourth annual conference next month in Raleigh.Posted — Updated
Anna Norton's life with diabetes began the summer between high school graduation and college.
Norton, who lived in south Florida at the time, was working as a camp counselor, drinking lots of water and visiting the bathroom, as you'd expect. She also was losing weight - 30 pounds in less than three months. And after a favorite dinner with her family at home, she became very sick.
After trips to the doctor and the emergency room, Norton finally got her diagnosis on a summer day in 1993: Type 1 diabetes. About 5 percent to 10 percent of people with diabetes have this form. Scientists don't know what causes the autoimmune disease, but they think genetic and environmental factors, even viruses, could be involved.
"This is something that I've been waiting for since 1993," said Norton, who now lives in Cary. "I had given up on the feeling sorry for myself, but this really solidified it."
Norton's understanding of the disease and acceptance of it took some wrong turns. She left the hospital in 1993 ill-prepared for what lay ahead.
"One doctor said, 'I just want to let you know, you'll never have kids,'" Norton remembers.
She made it through college, but was in a funk by the time she got to graduate school. For 18 months, she didn't take her insulin shots regularly and landed in the hospital. There, a doctor told her she had a decision to make - whether she wanted to live or die.
"He said to me, "your life is not over because of this,'" she said. "He said, 'this is not your life sentence.'"
Norton got back on track. She's started using an insulin pump and now also uses a continuous glucose monitor.
And in 2007, she and her husband welcome their son, now a healthy, happy preschooler. Norton enjoyed a complication-free pregnancy.
Diabetes Sisters offers online forums, regular meet-ups and more across the country. Norton finds both support and an opportunity to help other women with diabetes.
"It's nice to be able to ask, but it's really nice to be able to answer," she said.
In parallel to the conference, there are programs for husbands, boyfriends and partners of women with diabetes where they talk about marriage and relationships, how to support their spouses and other topics.
Watch my video interview to hear more from Norton.
"Life is better," she said.
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