I’m a full-time working mom of two who is heavily involved in activities with my children. I’ve always taken time to schedule appointments for each family member, and as a result I just kept putting myself on the back burner. But in February 2015, I finally decided to do something for myself and go in for a checkup. Why? I knew it wouldn’t be good news.

Thanks to lab work — and what felt like endless vials of blood — I was deemed to have high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and thyroid issues. The cholesterol wasn’t too much of a shock with my weight being in the obese category, but at a level of 220 I knew I needed to take action.

The doctor’s first plan of attack was to work on my diabetes in conjunction with my cholesterol. It was explained that my cholesterol would be a factor as it complicates diabetes. I was ready for the ride.

Controlling my cholesterol

Google quickly became my partner in finding healthy solutions that I could manageably implement. I wasn’t ready to have my mind blown by all that was out there. I needed more than just a stack of papers and prescriptions from my doctor.

My husband, who has been a heart patient from what seems like birth, and I talked about what I could do that I would be comfortable with. I strongly stress the “I” because what works for him doesn’t work for me.

The first prescription I was given started to give me muscle cramps within the first three days. Knowing the ups and downs my husband went through helped me to watch for signs my new medication was a problem. We talked and decided to give it a week’s time to let my body adjust along with increasing my water intake.

The days were fine, but my nights were horrible — I woke up multiple times to a charley horse in my calf. I couldn’t take it, so I called my primary doctor and requested a change. I was finally given a new medication. It was like night and day, and I couldn’t have been happier.

Dealing with my diabetes

With my diabetes, I received another stack of papers to read with my prescription. Yes, my diabetes was horrid: I had an A1C of 8.7 percent, and my doctor was very worried. Again, it was trial and error before I found a medication that worked for my diabetes and my body.

As someone with both high cholesterol and diabetes, I began making changes to my diet to include more heart-healthy foods, reducing my carbs and limiting my sugar intake. It’s challenging to manage my carbs. I love veggies and salads, but I also love meat. Balance and finding what fits me are the biggest all-time challenges.

“Just losing weight” isn’t easy, but I am trying. And as long as I try, I don’t feel that I am failing. I am the driver of my bus, and only I can steer my course through the difficult road ahead of me. I may detour, hit those bumps, but eventually I will see positive results.

As of today, I am happy to report my A1C is 6.7 percent and my total cholesterol is at 136. With the help of modern medicine, knowing my body, and making changes, I am seeing positive results.


Elizabeth Reyna is an accounts payable supervisor who lives in the southwest suburbs outside of Chicago with her family dog Maximus, cat Squeaky, two children, and husband of 13 years.  When not working, she participates in her children’s scouting and sports events, is active in a local women’s club, and enjoys time in her backyard.