Diabetic shares her journey to educate others on importance of self-care
- EFN Staff | December 03, 2018
Living with diabetes has its complications for a mother who is constantly battling with health issues. Shauna Smallchild shared her story to spread awareness to coincide with November’s Diabetes Awareness Month. She had neglected the severity of the disease at first which led to the current complications she faces.
“Three years ago, I had two toes amputated on my right foot because of diabetes,” said Smallchild from the Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation. “I [also] have neuropathy nerve damage to my limps where I have to take medication for the pain…and I suffered blindness in both of my eyes. I had four surgeries on my left eye and five surgeries on my right eye.”
Smallchild, 40, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes over 20 years ago. Her late father was also diabetic and she recognized the symptoms that he had and she knew it was diabetes. With numerous surgeries and after treatments, Smallchild was able to keep her eyesight. To this day, she regrets not properly looking after herself which she believes is the main cause of her health complications.
“I didn’t take care of my diabetes…I didn’t take care of myself for years,” said Smallchild, who takes two different insulins five times a day for the past 12 years. “Just because I was feeling OK doesn’t mean my sugars were. I’ve neglected my diabetes and now I’m paying for it [with] all these complications.”
Before her health complications, Smallchild would eat anything she wanted and drank pop like it was water. It was when she was hit with reality after losing her toes that she knew she had to take better care of herself, not only for herself but for her son’s sake.
“That’s when I had a wake-up call and changed my diet. I started eating salads, cutting carbs out of my diet and even cut out regular pop,” said Smallchild. “I’ve been a diabetic for 22 years and I’m still learning what to do and what not to do.”
Smallchild was invited by health and fitness advocate Carlin Nordstrom, owner and operator of Kisik Sports, Health and Wellness company, to speak in different communities on the effects of not taking care of yourself. But due to her current health complications, the speaking gigs are put on hold but the intention of helping others is still something that Smallchild wants to focus on.
“I’m trying to help people and motivate them [with] awareness. I don’t want anyone else to go through what I’m going through. It’s tough,” she said. “When I crave for pop, I look at my picture of my amputated toes and instantly, I feel bad. That’s what took my toes away was my pop.”
Smallchild hopes others can learn from her experience and not take your health for granted.
“Don’t let your diabetes beat you,” she said. “It’s never too late to change your lifestyle. Even if you’re not diabetic, start to exercise and watch what you eat and drink. You don’t want diabetes…it’s a hard disease to maintain and to live with everyday.”
According to data, diabetes has emerged within this Indigenous people at epidemic proportions where one in four Aboriginal persons living on reserve has type 2 diabetes compared to one in ten in the general population.