The story of a woman from Lapland
I can never truly express my gratitude to you. You’ve literally saved my life. I am a 23-yr-old type 1 diabetes sufferer from Rovaniemi in Lapland. I was diagnosed at the age of 16 when I was still living in Tampere (I had extremely high sugars of 61.6 despite traipsing back and forth to the doctor!). When we visited Tampere University Hospital, my mum, innocently and without any real understanding, asked whether there was any need for me to change my diet. She received a very definite answer: no. I think that this response was even repeated later on: "Sanna can keep on eating the same, normal food!"
I managed in the beginning, got used to the injections, and even found a balance. Three months later, however, I was completely broken; my stomach and thighs covered in bruises and sores. And yet I had to keep on injecting myself. Don’t even get me started about my fingers! Little by little I started to hate myself and diabetes, because I couldn’t treat it. I’d always been well-behaved and conscientious, but after I was diagnosed with Diabetes my whole life caved in (6 months after my diagnosis I also ended up having a heart operation in Helsinki) and I started to act out pretty badly. I gradually began skipping injections even though I knew my sugar levels were high. I started to get scared of the readings and, so, in the end, I skipped them too. My sense of self-loathing grew and I didn’t feel I had the right to ask my mum for help (the hospital told me that 16-year-olds should cope by themselves).
When I turned 17 I moved back to my home-town in Lapland in order to study. But it was hard to attend classes because of how unwell and tired I felt. At that time, I sometimes went for days without injecting, as the bruises and sores hurt too much. I even waited to inject a large dose of insulin until I felt so bad that there was no other option.
I felt like I was being made to feel guilty at my diabetes check ups and so I started avoiding them too. I hid just how bad my diabetes had gotten from my loved ones because I was so embarrassed. I felt like an adult who wasn’t able to fend for herself; in other words, a pathetic failure. My dearest little sister Sonja was the only one who knew the true state of my illness.
In the end, three years after my diagnosis I found myself feeling guilty and so concerned about further complications to my illness that I decided to get help with my injection problems. I asked about a pump at both Oulu and Rovaniemi hospitals but I was told that that the waiting list at Oulu was too long and that I wouldn’t even get to put my name down, and then at Rovaniemi they were of the opinion that I was too irresponsible to be considered for pump treatment. I was stuck. I wanted to be healthy so badly that I resolved myself to sticking to a new principle – "one injection a day." In my case, the injection was Lantus. It brought some relief from the persistent low mood and thirstiness, but the overall situation I was in was pretty bad.
I met my husband Jani that summer and I plucked up the courage to tell him about my secret. He was really understanding and had a strong desire to help. And so Jani started giving me insulin injections every morning: 30-32 units of Lantus and 10 units of NovoRapid. This made things a little bit better and I found it much more bearable when someone else was taking care of the injections. But this approach still didn’t bring about balance.
We wanted a baby right from the beginning but I knew that I’d never get approval to have a baby with my sugar levels, nor would it have been safe in any case.
The breakthrough came in summer 2011. While visiting our aunt’s house, my sister Sonja noticed your book about health and, owing to her interest in health matters, started reading it. She could barely contain her excitement when she called me to say: "Sanna! You won’t need injections anymore!" There was no end to my own interest; I immediately wanted to start your diet. Sonja found the part of your book on "treating diabetes by making dietary choices" and I gave it a go. In just a few weeks my blood sugar normalised and the long-term dropped from 15 % to 6.9 %! My Lantus dose also went down to around 18-22 units (even the stinging it caused disappeared because the dose was lower). I was so happy that I cried about it with Jani – that I, this useless diabetic had been able to find balance without blood, sweat, and tears, and even without a single meal-time injection.
Since then, my long-term blood sugar has been between 5.3 and 6.9 %; and not once above this. The only thing I have regrets about is not having found your book sooner. I’ve wanted to send you my story for a long time, but I couldn’t think of a way to do it. It’s great that you now get to hear my story and I sincerely hope that it encourages you to carry on the wonderful work you do despite all the slanderous attempts to ruin you. Thanks to your diet my personal prognosis may be better than that of an average diabetic. My blood sugar has stabilised and peaks and troughs only happen rarely. I even get positive comments from my diabetic friends about my excellent sugar levels.
I own almost all of your books and I’m really excited about your new book on diabetes – it’s a great help to me and my family. It’s sad that I missed your presentation in Rovaniemi, but hopefully you’ll come back again some time!
P.S. I got the go ahead to get pregnant straight away and our beautiful, healthy, and full-term 2.5 kg baby daughter was born on midsummer 2013, almost exactly a year after our wedding.
On behalf of my mum, my sister, my husband, and my daughter I’d like to say THANK YOU!!