When a Tie That Binds Includes Diabetes


Last week for the Diabetes 24-7 Friday series Diabetes Confessions (a kind of Proustian quiz with a slant towards the sugar-free set) I interviewed Jessica Apple and Michael Aviad, a married couple who created the online diabetes journal ASweetLife in 2009.

When Jessica and Michael met, neither had been diagnosed with diabetes.  Mike was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2002, four years after their marriage and Jessica was diagnosed with type 1 in 2008 after two gestational diabetes diagnoses.  Today, the couple have three boys: almost 3, 9 and 11.  What are the statistical chances of getting type 1 diabetes along with your spouse in your third decade of living?  It’s uncanny.  Or is it?  Perhaps this is the new norm of type 1 diabetes on the rise in the 21st century.

When I asked Jessica what it was like living with type 1 diabetes times two, she told me, “Sometimes running a diabetes lifestyle magazine and living in a home with two type 1 diabetics feels like major diabetes overload.  But we’re both doing something we love, it makes us take better care of ourselves, and we hope that we inspire others to do the same.  So overall, it’s been a great thing for us.”

Wow. That’s just the kind of attitude that makes diabetes a little easier to live with.  Enjoy the interview below (you’ll see some differences in perspective).

What is your idea of happiness as it relates to diabetes?

Jessica: Being able to not think about it for a few hours.

Michael: Few highs, few lows, no complications.  A1c under 6.2%

What is your greatest diabetes fear?

Jessica:That our children will get it.

Michael: The same fear as Jess, and also the fear of not being able to see my children grow up.

What is the one thing about you that most helps you deal with diabetes?

Jessica: Good self control.

Michael: Self discipline.

What is the one thing about you that makes managing diabetes more difficult?

Jessica: My anxieties.

Michael: I like to drink alcohol.

What is your greatest diabetes extravagance?

Jessica: Almond flour.  It’s expensive.

Michael: Eating a lot of meat is expensive (I don’t eat a lot of carb).

What is your favorite diabetes journey?

Jessica: Pregnancy

Michael: Running marathons

What is the one thing you regret associated with diabetes?

Jessica: That it took me so long to give up carbs.

Michael: I don’t look back.

What does the greatest love of your life think about you and diabetes?

He thinks… I love everything about her, even her diabetes.

She thinks… He’s amazing.  He’s brave.  He rarely complains.  He pushes himself to the limit.

What was your saddest moment with regard to your diabetes?

Jessica: During my third pregnancy I worked so hard to control my blood sugar.  I was really good.  After an ultrasound in the third trimester the doctor said, “You have a typical diabetic’s baby.”  He meant that my son’s abdomen was larger than it should have been, and that a c-section would be necessary.  I felt like a failure, but also like there was no way to win.  I had done everything I was supposed to do, but it hadn’t been enough.

Michael: Diagnosis

What was your happiest moment with regard to your diabetes?

Jessica: That despite diabetes, each of my three sons was born fine.

Michael: When I realized that I could live a healthier life because of diabetes.  Diabetes has made me take incredibly good care of myself.

What do you consider your greatest diabetes achievement?

Jessica: So as not to be repetitive about the pregnancies, I’ll say it’s creating ASweetLife.  I’m really proud of the community we’ve built and the content we and our contributors have produced.  I feel like we’re helping people.  That’s about the nicest feeling in the world.

Michael: ASweetLife  

If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?

Jessica: I don’t want to think about that.

Michael: I’d like to come back as me, but faster.

What is your most treasured diabetes possession?

Jessica: My laptop.  It connects me to the diabetes community.

Michael: My pump.

What do you most value in your friends?

Jessica: Honesty.  Humor.  Compassion.  And that they’re willing to put up with me!

Michael: Couldn’t say it better than Jess.

You have one wish, what do you wish for?

Jessica: That’s private.

Michael: To have three more wishes :) .

What is your motto?

Jessica: I have no life but this. (It’s the title of an Emily Dickinson poem.)

Michael: I don’t think I really have a motto, but I do have a saying: Life with diabetes can be very sweet.

Two things – Jessica, I want to know what you do with all that almond flour, and second, I know many readers will want to know much more about how to give up and live a carbohydrate-free life, so feel free to ask here in a comment.

This interview was originally published on Diabetes 24-7.com.

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Gail Miller
Gail Miller
10 years ago

Thank you for the insight, information and inspiration you give us in ASweetLife.  Of all the diabetes publications I have read, this one speaks the most to me and the issues that concern me. 

Catherine Price
10 years ago

Thanks so much, from both of us!  

Elizabeth Snouffer
10 years ago

Love the Lucy -Desi copycat pose!  After doing this interview with you two it made me realize just how much a loving relationship (encompassing acceptance, understanding, trust etc.) stabilizes even the worst conditions.  As my 11-year-old has the habit of declaring to me in (rare) moments of appreciation – YOU ROCK!

Nathan Shackelford
10 years ago

Great interview! You two have great wisdom and have helped spread good ideas and hope to a lot of people. Michael, I identify with you very much. I feel that I am much more aware of my health because of diabetes, and I’m thankful for that.

10 years ago

Great interview! Thanks for sharing.
I love A Sweet Life!

I recently went Paleo, eating lower carb and am seeing it do wonders for my Diabetes!

Thanks for being an inspiration to the Diabetes Community!

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