Isabelle Edwards is known across the internet as the Diabetes Diva, and if you ever have the privilege of meeting her, you will understand why! Isabelle lives with Type 2 Diabetes, but her enthusiasm for life, her kindness, and her glamour are what you remember after spending time with her. She is a fierce advocate for those living with Type 2 Diabetes and is committed to raising awareness about the disease and about life as a patient.
Isabelle found her voice after naturally overcoming obesity, a severe heart attack, gastroparesis distress, and the installation of a stomach pacer. In 2012, her journey continued as blood clots ravaged her right leg; she escaped two leg amputations resulting in being legally disabled. It’s no secret that Isabelle has faced serious health setbacks, but those setbacks have not brought her down.
Check out a few highlights from our exclusive interview with Isabelle below!
Can you tell us about time that you have been challenged by your illness?
Throughout my journey with Type 2 Diabetes, I have had a number of different surgeries and have gone through periods when my mobility has been seriously limited. When I look back on my illness experience, I think the biggest challenge for me is not being able to work. I just don’t feel useful like I used to.
I’m 51 years old now. Most of my friends are at the heights of their careers, and sometimes I worry that they cannot see or understand how many ways I am limited by my illness. Diabetes can be invisible to others. I don’t always look sick. So sometimes people think I’m exaggerating about my symptoms, or that I’m seeking attention, or that I don’t want to work. I’ve really struggled with that.
What about a time when you overcame a challenge?
After I was diagnosed, I had some serious issues with my legs. I had doctors tell me I would never walk again, never work again, never drive again. I wasn’t going to accept that. So through my stubbornness and my pride, I was able to find alternative and unconventional ways to maintain the independence I craved. At one point, I literally had to teach myself how to walk again. I may not walk “normal,” but every day I find the strength to push myself. I try to be the best version of myself I can be every day, and my illness has taught me how to do that. I’ve learned so much about myself through this journey.
What role have medical devices played in your life as a patient?
They have saved my life. I have a stomach pacer and I also have a heart defibrillator. I’m like a bionic woman!
I have gastroparesis as well as Diabetes, so my stomach and brain don’t communicate properly. When I first got really sick with gastroparesis, my stomach wasn’t emptying my food. Getting diagnosed was a real challenge because I didn’t have a standard case, so it made it very hard for doctors to find the right remedy. When they ultimately realized a stomach pacer would be the best option, my insurance company wouldn’t cover it. I had to fight for coverage while my organs were shutting down. It was hard, but I won that battle. That experience is ultimately what led me to become an advocate for other patients.
How have issues with medical device securement impacted your life as a patient?
As someone who lives with multiple medical devices and has gone through many, many surgeries, I know how important it is to have your lines and devices secured. As we make our way through life, experiences that can be standard for others can be so much more stressful for those of us who rely on medical devices – especially if we don’t “look sick.” Think about traveling for instance; when medical devices are not secure, something as simple as a pat downs or additional screening at the airport can be seriously dangerous.
Products like Mastisol, which allow patients to keep their devices secure for long periods of time, need to be easily accessible to patients. It should be a patient right to be informed of options and have freedom of product choice. I believe patients should have a choice on every service or product they are offered. If a product like Detachol will minimize risk of injury related adhesive removal, you should be able to choose that as part of your bundled healthcare needs. If you don’t support a manufacturer or know a family member who has had a bad experience with a product or service, you should be able to opt out. In today’s society, patients should be able to choose the products that are best for them.
What is one thing you wish people understood about life as a patient?
Not all disabilities are visible. Disability and illness is not always something you can see. Being kind, gentle, and nice to someone goes a long way. You don’t know what they have been through to get to where they are today.
Do you want to follow Isabelle’s journey online? Connect with the Diabetes Diva on Instagram to learn more about how she turns her sickness into strength.
For more information about superior device securement with Mastisol® Liquid Adhesive and safe dressing removal with Detachol® Adhesive Remover please contact your sales consultant or Eloquest Healthcare®, Inc., call 1‐877‐433‐7626 or visit www.eloquesthealthcare.com.
This piece was created for Eloquest Healthcare® in partnership with Mighty Well.