Turning on the Lights: Meet @retiredteacher
Member Spotlights feature interviews with fellow Connect members. Learn more about members you’ve connected with and some you haven’t met yet. Nominate a member you think should share the spotlight.
JOHN: What brought you to Mayo Clinic Connect? What motivates you to take part in the community?
@retiredteacher: I received a letter from my primary care provider (PCP) after a routine blood workup required every year for insurance. For 16 years, everything had been normal according to the report that I received in the mail. However, this time, in April 2016, there was a letter, and all it said was, "You have type 2 diabetes."
I was shocked. I was told to start monitoring my blood. I had been healthy all my life except for the usual tonsillectomy, hysterectomy and giving birth once. That's it. The rest was an occasional uterine tract infection (UTI) or a bad cold. Since the PCP had no info on type 2 diabetes, I started researching online and reading books. One book I ordered was from Mayo Clinic, since they are the best. Also in my online research, I came in contact with Mayo Clinic’s website, including Mayo Clinic Connect. As I tried to work through my anger at being sick, I realized that Connect was helping me and guiding me with patience and caring. So, I continued to post questions on Connect and got answers I needed.
I take part in the community because if anyone else gets a surprise diagnosis, I want to try to calm their fears and not have them go through the unknown as I did. My PCP left me wandering around in the dark, just lost. People should have the information so that they know what to do to get better and control their situation. All lights should be on so that we can see what steps to take to help ourselves. Connect gives us the lights and the steps.
JOHN: What about Connect makes you feel comfortable to share and to be open with the community?
@retiredteacher: The members, mentors and moderators share their experiences, and that helps those who are upset and in denial, as I was, feel at ease. I felt the wisdom of Atticus Finch when he said in To Kill A Mockingbird, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view —until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
The people who helped me were able to show that empathy. They had been in my skin and knew how to help me. I felt trust and confidence to expose my fears and concerns and even my anger at having a disease.
JOHN: What groups do you participate in?
@retiredteacher: I participate in the Diabetes/Endocrine System and Just Want to Talk Groups. I still consider myself a "newbie" and have other groups I eventually want to include. I am a patient and always will be, so the diabetes discussion and information exchange continues to give me the good and the bad of type 2 diabetes.
JOHN: Who has been a special connection for you on Connect?
@retiredteacher: The first person who got my attention and helped is moderator @lisalucier. Fellow members, and now fellow volunteer mentors, @hopeful33250 and @contentandwell helped me answer some questions and supported me with answers I have given.
Within the different groups, Connect helps people find others who have the same or similar problems as what they have. The casual dialogue of the written commentaries makes people approachable; they can read and know that they can get help.
When the Lighten Your Limbs with Friends discussion started inside the Diabetes/Endocrine Group, I knew, as a diabetic 2, I had to exercise. Soon there were others who liked the idea of Mayo Clinic's exercise plan, and other walkers joined. We began to write back and forth and report our progress, kept each other accountable, and shared news and ideas. @marvinjsturing reported good news concerning his transplant; @contentandwell suggested other ways to add to the walk; @hopeful33250 posted a link to Willie Nelson's song, "On the Road Again," which is the theme song for our daily walks; @woodinville always made us not have excuses to skip the walk. We continue to report to each other and stay accountable.
It's always a unique connection when other people are working the same program and staying in touch. Even though we only know each other through what we write, we are friends. It's fun, and I think we will all continue after the 12 weeks. I love to read the posts of my friends walking with me. We share a camaraderie. It's a good thing.
JOHN: What surprised you the most about Connect?
@retiredteacher: As angry as I was at first, I never felt ignored when I asked a question. Everyone was accepting even if the question had probably been asked a thousand times before. They sensed I needed help, and they were willing to forgive my sharp tongue via the written word and give me the information I needed to ask my endocrinologist the questions for him to address.
JOHN: What energizes you, or how do you find balance in your life?
@retiredteacher: The balance in my life is my husband of 52 years, though we have been together 60 years. He is my soulmate, my high school sweetheart and the love of my life. We are in many ways opposite personalities. I am the extrovert; he is the introvert. I am the liberal arts side to his scientific side; I am the subjective to his objective. We have always been supportive and have grown up together. He is the only person I trust to calm me when I rant and rave. I cannot imagine my life without him; there is no one else.
JOHN: Tell us about your favorite pastime or activity.
@retiredteacher: As a retired teacher of English literature and composition, I love to read and write. I started a journal in 1959 but recently destroyed it because I did not want anyone else to read it. I still keep a daily log.
JOHN: Do you have a favorite quote, life motto or personal mantra?
@retiredteacher: Always tell the truth. (This is from what my daddy always said to me.)
JOHN: What food can you simply not resist?
@retiredteacher: Tiramisu is it! I have it once a year at Christmas. Then that's it for the rest of the year. Tiramisu is not on the type 2 diabetes diet.
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Hi @retiredteacher! It is really nice to get to know you a little better. I'm hoping you don't scold me for using colloquialisms…it's my favorite pastime ☺
Happy Friday! John
@johnbishop I read the spotlight. Thank you for doing that. I love all language, so colloquialisms (or any usage of English) suit me. I am just appreciative to you for taking the time to do this. I'll never think I should be in the spotlight. I don't know enough, but I am trying to learn.
I hope you have a wonderful winter weekend. (Alliterations are fun too!)
Hi, Carol. I really enjoyed reading this. Helps me get to know you a little better. I always enjoy reading your posts. They are always so encouraging. Thanks!
Carol, You brighten my days! I find delight in your refreshing writing style. I feel as though I am sitting or walking beside you even though we are miles apart. When I don't feel like getting up and out to the gym for my routine, I know that I will find inspiration to move at home by reading the latest update on the Lighten Your Limbs with Friends discussion.
I enjoyed reading your spotlight interview. Thank you, Carol, and Thank you, John.
@rosemarya Thank you for your kind words. I feel a closeness to the Mentors I've met on Connect too. There just doesn't seem to be any distance, and that is a good thing. It means we are all working together to try to do the best we can for people who need answers or suggestions.
I know I gave you fits when I was first posting and even after about how to act as a VM. I drove John crazy too. I don't think I've ever felt so insecure; it was new for me because before diabetes, I was always in control. I should apologize to you and John and others who tamed this wild horse somewhat. I finally improved my anger, although I still have spells of frustration. When that happens I just close the laptop and do something else.
Do people ever ask you about your white hair? When I was high school, my hair started getting white in places, so I dyed it for decades. It was only three years ago that I decided to see if at my age now if my hair would be white. I stopped dying it and let the brown color grow out. My salon lady would cut, and we just let it grow. When it finally was grown out, she styled it with the bob cut and it has no dye; it's completely natural. I've had people ask me if I dye it white. No. that's what I have—all natural and totally bright white! I've even had strangers ask me if it's dyed. I love it white and wish I had let it grow out much earlier. There are a number of us who have white hair. I just look at it as not being older but being wiser!
Have a good weekend.
Carol, letting your true hair color shine through matches your personality. I love it. @debbraw has a similar story to share. Have started a special savings to calculate all the $$ spared from coloring your hair?
@colleenyoung I wish I had thought to save all that salon money. I could buy a new car or take another trip to England. But, I didn't think that far ahead so the dye went down the drain and the money did too! 🙂
My hair used to be dark brown, almost black with natural curls.
When I was around 12, a few silver specks began to show on the right front of my hair. We thought it was silver paint because as a summertime project, I helped my brothers paint the silver fence around our yard. When it did not come out, and more began to appear, we learned that I had inherited an autoimmune condition called Vitiligo. My immune system was attacking the color pigment in my skin/hair. So I developed a silver streak. I hated it in grade school, because the boys taunted me with hurtful names. None of the hairdressers would dye it out of concern for the chemicals in one so young.
In high school and college I learned to accept it. It was the style back then.
Somewhere over time it became beautiful silvery salt and pepper. My friends were envious because their grey was dull and not silver white like mine was.
It was during my liver disease it turned completely white.
After my transplant, when I was taking prednisone for @5 years, I began to grow dark hairs again. Now since I'm off prednisone for the last 3 years, amd once again mostly silver white.
Life is interesting!
@rosemarya That is interesting. I guess mine is just pure white from age. I really don't know because when I started dying it, I continued from the first white hairs at age 16 until three years ago.( As the brown grew out, the white came in completely white. As you can see from my picture, I have no other color. It's not even salt and pepper—just white. I had said if it came in that yellowish white or some off color I would dye it again, but when it was pure white, I was happy, and my husband likes it too. So bright white is for me. As I said I think of it as age and wisdom.
I'd like to put the picture on my profile instead of Shakespeare, but I haven't figured out how to do that yet. I tried one day, but it didn't work. The computer and I are still trying to be Volunteer Mayo Mentors and not English teachers. It's a big adjustment.
Carol, it is a big change, isn't it, to be left all alone with a laptop? When I was teaching, there was always a tech person on hand to bail me out. But that was when computers in schools was being introduced. I don't know if that is still the case or not. I do know that the students know w-a-y more than I can even imagine.
My local library has a hired staff position for technology help for the community. Thety used to have scheduled classes,but that is now changed to individual 'tutoring' by appointment. I am going to meet with a young man on Tuesday for my next help session. (already had one lesson last fall). I have a new list of questins for him, and I will take my laptop with me.
Does your library have such a program available?