Turning on the Lights: Meet @retiredteacher

Jan 25, 2019 | John, Volunteer Mentor | @johnbishop | Comments (15)

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.

2019.1.18 Carol mentor spotlight photo

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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Fabulous interview! I love your TKAM quote and your motto 🙂 And congrats on the Lighten Limbs milestone. I too started getting fit and healthy after my cancer diagnosis. One day at a time. It's amazing what exercise can do for the spirit, and all the better with friends to support.


@mbear Thanks for your comment. I love TKAM and taught it so many times. It is on the banned books list and has been for years, but I still taught it. My favorite quote is the one I used often in teaching, and now as a retired teacher I still use it often when people want to tell others what to do when they have never had the experience. I post what I know from personal experience and don't guess about other things. That follows and strengthens my daddy's "Always tell the truth" quote. I hope you are recovering from your cancer diagnosis. And, you are right. Regardless of what comes our way, we just take it one day at a time. That works best for me too.


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?

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Library techs are just great to help you with purely technical problems. I went to one when I first got a Kindle, I was pretty intimidated by it but he helped a lot to get me comfortable with it. If you are not near a library then the next thing would be a 10 year old. They are as good at computer issues as anyone😊

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