Nicole's Thanks Giving

Diabetes challenges aside, there is much to be grateful for.

By Nicole Johnson, MA, MPH

November always puts me in a reflective mood.  Part of that is due to the holiday we celebrate as a nation, another part is related to the anniversary of my diagnosis with diabetes.  This year, Thanksgiving Day marks that anniversary for me.  Fifteen years! When I was diagnosed, November 27, 1993, I was given lots of advice and instruction.  I am sure some of the advice was well meaning and motivating, but I mostly remember hearing what was not possible – the diabetes challenges.  It is unfortunate.  I vividly remember being told that I could count on only “10 good years” with diabetes.  Challenges were certain after that. “Complications would surely take charge and wrestle away control.”  Fear has gripped me for over a decade based on those words alone.  I also heard what was not possible for me as a person with diabetes.  The advice, in 1993, was that I resign to a predictable, easy, non-stressful life.  That I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same time each day and that I not expect too much.  To me, that meant my life was over.  No education, no career, no family, no competition.    

Thankfully, I learned quickly that I am the only one who could determine my capabilities.  I am the only one who ultimately decides what is and is not possible based on my willingness to work and sacrifice.  Genetics and science do play a role in my health and longevity, but still the lionshare is built on my willingness to be an active participant in my care.  In fifteen years I have obtained higher education, have enjoyed a career in television and public speaking, have run companies focused on public health, have had a child and have made my way to the Miss America stage.  Boundaries?  What boundaries?  

So much of what has happened over the years is related to the support I have received from others.  The encouragement that keeps me motivated and forward looking. 

To honor this important occasion in my diabetes life, I wanted to honor some who have made the extraordinary life I lead possible.   

My family:  They have always supported and loved me through my diabetes challenge.   

My daughter, Ava:  You are a beautiful example of a "type 3.”  Thank you for loving Mommy and helping me count down to my blood sugar.  Your “pump” is cool too.  (Not a real pump, but she wears her version of one to be like her Mommy.)

My diabetes mentors and friends….  

Audrey Finkelstein:  You constantly show me what it means to be truly compassionate.  Your extraordinary care touches hearts and minds in a way that is uncommon.  I hope to be like you!

Mike Swearingen:  You teach me something new every time I am around you, especially about relationships.  Thank you for believing in me.

Jeff Hitchcock:  What a beautiful example of selflessness.  You inspire me and you redefine hope daily.   

Tom Karlya: Thank you for being a great "Diabetes Dad.”  Your commitment, perspective, and passion are precious.

Dr. Lois Jovanovic:  WOW!  You gave me the most extraordinary gift – a little life to lead. Thank you for seeing me and showing me the healthcare ideal.  You have so many beautiful gifts that you so generously share with others.  WOW!

Howard Steinberg:  Your vision and drive are admirable.  Thank you for fighting for people with diabetes and for their voice.  You will never know how much that truly means to me.  

John Swanston:  You are a phenomenal friend and counselor.  Thank you for your support, care and commitment.  And thank you for wearing the pump and testing your BG to understand what it is like to live with diabetes and diabetes challenges!  You are endlessly cool.

It isn’t often in life one gets to single out those who make a difference.  There are so many others who have and continue to impact my life too.  Diabetes has been a tough badge for the last 15 years, but it is one I wear proudly because diabetes has helped me realize the person I was meant to be and the kind of person I aspire to grow into.
I hope the next 15 bring discovery and solutions that my mind can’t even conceive now.  I hope the next 15 bring answers to the “why.”  I hope the next 15 bring similar blessing and education, because I am better because of the journey.  

Nicole Johnson

Read Nicole's bio here.

Read more of Nicole Johnson's columns.

NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

Last Modified Date: November 28, 2012

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the benefits that made it cost-effective for me to go with the real healthcare (HSA) plan rather than the phony (HRA) plan is that my company is now covering "preventative" medicines at $0 copay. The formulary for these, as stated by CVS/Caremark (my pharmacy benefits provider), covers all test strips, lancets, and control solutions. I dutifully get my doctor to write up prescriptions for all of my testing needs, submit...
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