Schmit shares story of diabetes diagnosis

Penny Schmit was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes this summer. Five years ago, she was told her was showing signs of pre-diabetes. Some simple lifestyle changes have allowed her to manage her diabetes. Schmit works full-time at the Monticello Public Library. (Photo by Kim Brooks)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     This summer, while most were enjoying their family vacations, relaxing with their families, or attending a county/state fair or two, one woman from Monticello saw her life change.

     In June, Penny Schmit noticed she wasn’t sleeping at night, getting very few hours of sleep.

     “I just didn’t feel good,” she said. “I was tired all of the time; my feet hurt.”

     Having had enough, Schmit finally went to see a doctor in early July.

     “They thought my sleep patterns were just off,” she said of the initial diagnosis.

     So, Schmit was put on sleep medications to try and restore her sleep habits. She also complained of problems with her feet, and set up an appointment to have some tests done. However, she said no blood work was done at this time.

     Despite the medications, she said the effects only worsened.

     “I was bouncing off the walls,” she said. Schmit said she would come to work at the Monticello Public Library in the mornings, running off three hours of sleep. “I was a train wreck,” she said.

     On Tuesday night of fair week here Monticello, Schmit went to the ER at Jones Regional Medical Center.

     “I told them the meds I was on had the reverse affect on me,” she said. “The doctor then thought I had thyroid problems.” She said the ER doctor also questioned whether Schmit had blood work done at her previous visit a few weeks prior. “I told them no, and that I had all kinds of different things going on with me.”

     The next day, after her ER visit, lab work was ordered, and the results showed that Schmit had Type 2 diabetes.

     “They told me that my blood sugar was 250,” she admitted. “Normal is close to 100. My body wasn’t processing sugar right.”

     Even during this interview, Schmit demonstrated the process she goes through to test her blood sugar levels. She tested at 174.

     “It’s a little high because I ate Chinese food for lunch,” she said. “That means I have to watch what I eat for supper.”

     Schmit said about five years ago, while at her doctor, she was told she was showing signs of pre-diabetes.

     “They said I was borderline,” she said.

     Schmit said she wanted to tell her story to help educate others about making the proper lifestyle changes to avoid being diagnosed with diabetes.

     “Proper diet and exercise help so it doesn’t get to that point,” she said. “Maybe if I heeded the warnings, this would not have happened so soon.”

     Schmit, who’s in her 40s, does not have a family history of diabetes. Her in-laws have diabetes, but there is no direct bloodline. She said she’s learned a lot from her in-laws throughout their process.

     One hundred days into Schmit’s diagnosis, she’s proud to say she’s lost over 20 pounds and has developed better eating habits. Her eating habits have also pored over into her family’s eating habits as well.

     She said after the first few weeks of having diabetes, she would cook for her family, and then make a separate meal for herself.

     “My family was used to eating a certain way,” she said. “I was eating separate so I wasn’t tempted to eat what they were eating.”

     Now, things have changed. Schmit prepares one meal for the entire family, which includes more vegetables and salad.

     “I eat small portions and limit my sweets,” she said.

     Aside from better eating habits, Schmit takes an insulin pill twice a day versus giving herself a shot. Initially, she was testing her A1C levels once a day. Now that she’s managing her diabetes better, she’s only testing every couple of days.

     “You have to make those lifestyle changes,” encouraged Schmit. “Listen to your doctor when they say your levels are high.”

     Schmit said at first, she didn’t know a lot about diabetes. Working at the library, she checked out some books on the topic and did some research online.

     “I knew carbs (carbohydrates) were a big part because there are good and bad carbs,” she said. “I watch how much carbs and sugar I’m taking in.” She said it’s all about reading the labels and knowing proper portion sizes.

     “I know I’m doing something right when my blood sugar is down and I’m losing weight,” she added.


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