Jennifer Fletcher

Step Out to End Diabetes
By: Posted On: 2011-08-12


Hi guys,

I’m writing today to ask for your help. I understand you don’t know me and that’s okay. It’s very likely you love, are related to, are friends with or work with someone who fights the same battle I do. Please, read on.

I am 35 years old. I am fit and active. I eat right, I exercise…I take care of myself. I’m a mom and a wife. I volunteer, I help people and I’m generous almost to a fault. I’ve been taking care of a child with a life-threatening disease. I am pretty darn normal – I could be your neighbor.

At the beginning of the year I started getting sick in small steps. At first I couldn’t get warm, no matter what I did. Then I was tired all the time. Adding to those symptoms I was constantly thirsty. Camel-in-the-desert-thirsty. I was drinking everything I could get my hands as often as I could and my mouth still stayed so dry I couldn’t make saliva. I was in the bathroom so often my kids looked there first when they couldn’t find me. And then I started losing weight. I lost small amounts at first; 3 pounds here, 2 there…in February I had a healthy weight of 130 pounds (I’m 5’4” tall); by mid-March I weighed 112 pounds. That’s when the night cramps started. Everything from the knuckles in my toes, up my shins and calves and even into my thighs cramped while I slept. I was waking several times in the night, forced to walk the cramps out. Admittedly I’m a stubborn woman. I refused to see a doctor, figuring it was just some passing part of getting older. It was not until I lost my eyesight that I finally caved and went to the doc. At that point I couldn’t see enough to read to my little girl at night. I couldn’t work on the jewelry I love making.

I went to the doctor at the beginning of April. I weighed in at 99 pounds. 

The doctor ran several blood tests, including a fasting blood sugar test. Typically, healthy blood sugar levels are between 70-130mg/dl.  My fasting blood sugar was more than 500mg/dl.

I am type 1 diabetic. No family history, no warning and no reason for it. 

For those who don’t know the difference between Types 1 and 2, a quick (and not in-depth by any means) explanation:

Type 1: The body makes too much sugar and not enough insulin to process it. The sugar in the blood, if left unchecked, will poison and eventually put the body into a coma.  This type usually shows up in young children until their late teenaged years. 10% of annually diagnosed cases of diabetes is type 1; 1-3% of those cases is diagnosed in adults over the age of 20.

Type 2: The body doesn’t make enough sugar and too much insulin. The body starts shutting down for want of sugar. This can also lead to coma. Type 2 is the more commonly diagnosed strain of diabetes.

I have 2 different types of insulin I have to take twice a day, I have to take an oral medication and I have to keep constant tabs on my blood sugar by testing my blood. At least one of my kids will likely be diagnosed with diabetes because it is typically genetic. I don’t want to see that happen so I’m working with the ADA (American Diabetes Association) to end diabetes. This is why I need your help.

On October 9, 2011, I will be walking in the ADA’s Step Out to End Diabetes in Frederick, Maryland. I and thousands like me are trying to raise money toward research to end diabetes; we will walk three miles. I need sponsors for my walk. My personal fundraising goal is $250 and I have raised $140; I would really love to exceed my goal.

If you’re leery of donating, I completely understand. As I said before, you don’t know me. But please know that any and all online donations go straight to the ADA. All donations are 100% charitable tax deductions. If you can’t help, I also understand that. Times are tough economically. I ask for only $5 from each person. That’s a cup of coffee for most of us. 

If you would like to make a donation or join my team as a fundraiser, please visit my personal Step Out/ADA webpage. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below.

Thank you for your patience as I’ve told my long-winded story. And thank you in advance for your support.