How did you hear about the Health Squad?
I found out about the Health Squad project through LA Casting and honestly, I applied because I fit the description. It was simply, "Oh, hey, look. They're looking for real people with Type 2 diabetes and that's what I have. Click."
Then I thought to myself, "This would be a good refresher for me; I've been out of the loop with my diabetes education."
What were you expecting from the project?
I didn't know what to expect honestly. I think I just wanted to get some work as an actor. I thought of this as a gig but in the process of shooting the episodes, it hit me that I need to take this personally ... seriously.
Was it difficult to let the Health Squad doctors and nurses into your life?
It was a bit difficult, but the crazy thing was that at first I treated it like an acting gig. At the end when we had the Reflection Segment I started to think, "Whoa, is this for real? Is this a real intervention?"
I was in denial about this disease. A part of me figured as long as I don't accept diabetes, I don't have it. And that was probably the reason why I hadn’t been taking care of myself.
Which Health Squad video is a "must-see"?
This is the one that captures my candid reflections: Charlene Tests Her Blood Sugar. This is when it got real for me.
What about the personal stories? Which of those spoke to you?
The story of the African-American woman with short hair who had diabetic retinopathy was the one that hit me hard. It’s part of The Type 2 Wake-up Call. Around the time that I found out I was diabetic, I also found out that there was thinning of my retina in my left eye and wondered if there was a positive correlation there. I don't even like admitting that my retina is thinning. It makes me feel weird to even type it out. I have issues with denial!
Rate the patient experience videos with 1-3 stars (***):
The Type 2 Wake-up Call *** (I do wish it went a little deeper with some of the stories.)
Have any Health Squad recommendations stuck?
So far it's been good. I've lost more than 10 lbs. since the shoot. But I have to say in the beginning it wasn't easy to transition and get back on the right track.
I took baby steps, such as exercising more, but the diet was the hardest part. I'm willing to work out every single day, as long as I get to eat what I want. But recently, due to work and stress, I realized that I while I am exercising, I'm not always eating right.
What about changes on the inside?
I don't know what happened but something just clicked inside my head and I realized that this disease is serious. It's not someone else's disease and those horror stories are not just special cases--they're real and they happen to everyday, normal people.
I started to take more drastic measures such as controlling my carb intake, eating smaller portions more frequently throughout the day to stabilize my glucose levels, and not eating dessert or chocolate. I've substituted sugar-free candy to satisfy my sweet tooth, but even with that I still need to cut down.
I'm still a work-in-progress. I'm not fully at the place where I want to be, where I feel like I am in control of my diabetes. But I am definitely on the right track to getting there.
How does it feel to be a Diabetes Diva?
Hmm. Well, if people ask me if I have Type 2 or if the subject of diabetes comes up I'll talk about it. But I don't wear a t-shirt that says, "I'm diabetic. Give me some chicken and broccoli."