ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
In life, we don’t get to where we are overnight, and we don’t always move in the right direction on our own.
Our current state is a culmination of choices, decisions, and often how we deal with the events that are sometimes out of our control. In my case, handling depression, anxiety and stress by sleeping too much and not eating enough of the right foods and too much of the wrong ones, led to my gaining way too much weight for my 5-foot-5-inch frame.
I had some red flags pop up along the way, a 2008 hypertension diagnosis and rising cholesterol numbers years later, but it wasn’t until early on a workday morning that I got a wakeup call from one of my supervisors about my declining health.
That June morning, my chest felt heavy and pain set in. I went to my immediate supervisor and told him what I felt and, being a good Wingman, he insisted that I get medical attention right away. Within minutes, I was being taken to the local hospital by a co-worker for evaluation. A visit to the ER turned into a series of medical tests followed by a two-day stay in the hospital. Just when I thought I would be dismissed with a clean bill of health, the doctor on staff gave me the news that I have diabetes.
It felt like my life was over. I suddenly imagined life without my favorite desserts and having to take insulin injections – Did I mention I’m scared of needles? Fortunately, my condition was caught in time where, with the right medication and lifestyle changes, I could manage the disease and maybe even beat it with weight loss.
At first, I was leery about opening up about my diabetes diagnosis, afraid of being judged or looked down upon. Soon, I opened up to my director and found the Wingman culture continue to resonate in my office. I had barely gotten my foot back in the door and my director was encouraging me to take daily walks with her up and down the office hallway to get me moving toward a healthier lifestyle.
It has been five months and 20 pounds since I changed the direction of my life. Sometimes, it takes a health wakeup call to get one’s attention, and sometimes it takes a Wingman to care enough to speak up or take action to make a difference in another person’s life. Both were true for me. Know your wingman – someone you can turn to and confide in. It could make a difference in your life. I know it made a difference in mine.