Rachel Garlinghouse is a part-time English teacher at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, a part-time freelance writer and blogger, and a full time wife and mom to two baby girls. She resides in the St. Louis area. Diagnosed at 24 with type I diabetes, Rachel is now 29 and living well with her disease. You can read more about her family’s adventures in adoption at: http://whitesugarbrownsugar.blogspot.com/
How old were you when you were diagnosed with diabetes and how long have you lived with diabetes?
I was diagnosed with type I diabetes at age 24, and I’ve had diabetes for five and a half years.
What do you feel has been your biggest challenge living with diabetes as a woman?
As a woman, having diabetes can be challenging because of fluxuating hormones. I have to constantly adjust my basal and bolus insulin levels depending on the time of the month.
Do you know any other women with diabetes?
I know other women with diabetes, but my type I friends are all online. But, I feel that women with chronic diseases have a lot in common; I have a friend with MS and a friend with lupus.
What has been the greatest piece of advice you’ve received about living with diabetes?
When I was first diagnosed, the doctor told me that diabetes would become normal. I thought he was crazy (because what is normal about needles, weighing your pasta, and seeing five different specialists every year?). But now I realize, diabetes is my normal. It’s sink or swim, do or die. So I choose to live well.
Do you live: in spite of or because of diabetes?
I feel that diabetes makes me a better, stronger person. Without it, we wouldn’t have adopted our children, I wouldn’t have become active in the health community, and I wouldn’t have such a successful freelance writing career. I’ve turned my hardships into ministry.
(photo from Jill Heupel Photography of Edwardsville, IL)