Below is an article that caught my attention. The challenges of the woman in this article may be a bit different – the mindset is one we all can learn from.
“We get to choose how we experience roadblocks in life, there’s always possibility and choice….”
As she points out, she is discovering her way of managing her health issues. The magic is not in any one thing she is doing, but instead that she is designing her own plan for what works best for her.
Each of us can design our own plan based upon what works best for ourselves and choose the people and communities to play the supporting roles.
“The fact that the possibility of change and growth always exists is a very exciting one, and when I’m not able to see this, I have learned I can ask others to remind me.”
I hope you enjoy the article!
Keep Moving, Be Well
Life-altering changes for Millbury native
By Dave Greenslit
September 30. 2015 6:00AM
Things were difficult for Christine Croteau. Then they got worse, much worse.
Throughout her teens, the Millbury native suffered from anxiety and severe depression. She persevered, graduating from St. Mary’s High School in Worcester, then earning degrees at the College of the Holy Cross and Assumption College.
At one point, however, she says she was on a “cocktail” of eight psychotropic drugs. One of the drugs she took, now known to raise blood glucose levels and required to carry a warning, gave her type 1 diabetes, she believes. And that began a downward spiral that bottomed out with suicide attempts and psychiatric hospitalizations.
But these days, Croteau, 42, has turned things around, using a combination of traditional and alternative medicines, diet and exercise, meditation and yoga, art, love of the outdoors and connections to family, friends and community to take charge of her life.
“We get to choose how we experience roadblocks in life,” she said last week in an interview in her Worcester apartment before chopping up organic vegetables for a later meal and heading out for a bike ride and a little running. “There’s always possibility and choice, and it’s easier to do in a community than alone.”
Her medical team at UMass Memorial Health Care is one part of that community, and Croteau’s progress has not gone unnoticed among those providers. Her story, and a photo of her at the finish of a half-marathon in June, will be posted on the wall of the UMass endocrinology department.
Croteau was in her second semester of graduate school at Assumption when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, which she said was rare. Usually adults develop type 2 diabetes. After finishing her master’s, moving and starting work, she found managing the disease to be overwhelming.
“All my attention was being placed on, ‘How do I do this?” she said. Already in the throes of depression, she said diabetes further affected her mood, as well as cognition and diet.
“I couldn’t live the same lifestyle I had,” she said.
Croteau moved back to the area, partly because diabetes has so many ramifications and she wanted her health care providers in one place. But, feeling that in the past mainstream medicine had let her down, she also began less traditional ways to help herself. And that led to complementary care that included chiropractic, acupuncture, reiki and massage, as well as healthy doses of exercise and a vegan diet.
She’s still tweaking the combination of all those things.
“I am not saying that what I have done is for everyone or that people should even try them,” she wrote for the story she submitted to UMass. “I am simply sharing what has worked for me.”
So far, Croteau is happy with the results. She teaches yoga and meditation, has dropped 40 pounds through diet and exercise, has less pain and no inflammation. And she no longer takes psychotropic medication.
Never an athlete, she now runs, swims and bikes. With a half-marathon, which she ran in June in Worcester, under her belt, she’s training for a full marathon this fall in Hartford, and is thinking about a triathlon at some point, as well. Finisher medals and race numbers are proudly attached to her front door.
Her weekly exercise regimen includes two strength training sessions; three or four days of running; biking or swimming, depending on the weather; and yoga that she does three to five times for herself and twice in classes she teaches for low-income people and the disabled at First Unitarian Church in Worcester.
Croteau credits her state-of-the-art insulin pump with making her participation in long distance sports possible. The waterproof device, worn at the waist, continually monitors her blood sugar, which she can check with the push of a button. She says one of her doctors at UMass, endocrinologist Samir Malkani, pushed for her insurance to pay for the pump after coverage was initially denied.
According to the American Diabetes Association, the drug Croteau believes caused her diabetes, Zyprexa, is more likely to cause the disease than any other anti-psychotic medication. Croteau says its label did not include a blood sugar warning when she took the drug, but now it does, as well as the possibility it could cause weight gain and high cholesterol.
Zyprexa’s manufacturer, Eli Lilly, has paid more than $1 billion to settle lawsuits over the drug’s side effects. Croteau says she is not party to any of those suits.
She hopes her experience will help others cope. She says that when a 19-year-old was diagnosed with diabetes at UMass and thought life as he knew it was over, the nurse practitioner pictured with Croteau at the finish line of the half-marathon, Nancy Sidholme, showed him that photo.
“The fact that the possibility of change and growth always exists is a very exciting one,” Croteau wrote to UMass. “And when I’m not able to see this, I have learned I can ask others to remind me.”