Welcome to Condition Diaries, a series that illustrates how different people manage different health conditions—including how they fuel their bodies and minds, take care of their mental health, and more. In this Diabetes Diary, we hear from a Florida mom who enjoys neighborhood walks, gardening, and finding ways to modify her favorite Haitian foods.
Name: Hyvelle Ferguson-Davis
Location: Fort Lauderdale
Health conditions: Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure
Hyvelle Ferguson-Davis was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when she was 35. At the time, she began monitoring her blood sugar, taking insulin injections, and changing her diet to include more vegetables, whole grains, and protein. But Hyvelle had a hard time maintaining those habits and had a stroke at 41, which her doctors say was a complication of her diabetes. Just one month after the stroke, Hyvelle had a heart attack and underwent emergency quadruple bypass surgery to unblock four arteries and restore blood flow to her heart. Hyvelle had a lengthy recovery, which inspired her to help others make lasting changes. Now she volunteers with the American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association. She also started Heart Sistas, a social group for communities of color with diabetes or heart disease to help support them in managing their conditions. (You can connect with them by contacting Hyvelle through Heart Sistas on Facebook to join their WhatsApp chat.)
We asked Hyvelle to document her life for one week to share what living with type 2 diabetes and a heart condition can be like. Here is her diary.
(Day 1) Sunday
Rise and shine—it’s time to test my blood sugar! I pull out my testing kits and check my blood glucose and blood pressure. If my levels aren’t stable, then I take my diabetes and blood pressure medications immediately; otherwise, I might go on my walk first.
When I’m ready to leave, I grab two bottles of water and my rescue dog, King, and I go for our morning walk around the neighborhood. I’m so grateful for every morning that I get to walk since I couldn’t walk at all while I recovered from my stroke. Some days I can only do a few blocks, and other days I can rack up a mile.
I have a cup of hot herbal tea and breakfast. I make a smoothie, which I love because it’s so delicious and easy to make. I use plant-based protein, almond milk, spinach, oatmeal, cinnamon, and a half of a banana this morning.
Everyone is awake now, so I help my husband and son make their breakfast before we watch church services virtually.
Every Sunday, we have a family sit-down dinner. Today we are having fresh steamed fish that my husband caught. When we transitioned from eating red meat to mostly eating fish and poultry because of my heart condition, we began spending more on food, so my husband took up fishing. We are so blessed because of it, and my husband is now a real fisherman.
I love Sundays because I get to relax completely. I don’t make any phone calls or even use the computer. Instead, I nap, because my chest starts to feel heavy if I don’t get enough rest.
My snack today is a cup of Greek yogurt with a sprinkle of granola on top. I love crunchy food!
I check my blood sugar levels before bed, and the reading is a bit high. I drink a cup of tea, take my medications, and go to bed.
(Day 2) Monday
I didn’t sleep very well last night. My chest felt very heavy and my leg was cramping, which is the result of some of the nerve damage caused by the stroke. I get up and test my blood sugar and blood pressure. Both are higher than normal, so I take my medications and go back to bed for a bit.
My husband makes me oatmeal for breakfast using almond milk, protein powder, cinnamon, nuts, and apple pieces.
I pack an apple, peanut butter crackers, and my 64-ounce bottle of water (which I carry everywhere) to take to my doctor’s appointments today. I always make my medical appointments, like follow-ups with specialists or for lab work, on Mondays because my husband has the day off from work, so it ends up being a long day.
I wait to get home to make lunch because I prefer not to eat fast food, as it can be harder to stabilize and maintain my blood sugar levels afterward. Today I make a big kale salad with tuna and pita bread.
It’s almost dinnertime, and my son helps me prepare a comforting meal. We make spaghetti squash with marinara sauce and steamed veggies for Meatless Mondays, which I follow to eat more vegetables.
I’m so exhausted from my day of appointments, so I start winding down. I check my blood sugar, take my medications with a cup of water, have some hot tea, and I’m off to bed.
(Day 3) Tuesday
I pull out my testing kit to check my blood sugar level, and it’s higher than normal. I take my medications and rest for a bit before getting out of bed.
I grab two bottles of water, and I head out for a walk with a friend. I truly love our morning walks around the neighborhood because it gives me a chance to reflect and meditate and pray to God.
I toast two slices of wheat bread and top them with avocado, tomatoes, and a sprinkle of garlic pepper. I eat that with a side of fresh strawberries and peaches, along with a cup of hot tea.
I go grocery shopping and visit the produce section first. I stock up on bananas, apples, and other grab-and-go fruits and vegetables I can put out on the counter for my son’s snacks. I supplement this trip with food from my garden, including tomatoes, eggplant, cabbage, okra, and collard greens. I started gardening so I could have high-quality veggies without spending as much at the store.
I make a guacamole taco salad for lunch using spinach, kale, and lots of avocados that I got from my neighbor’s backyard. Many of my neighbors are also from the Caribbean, and they enjoy growing fruits from back home like mangos, soursop, and star fruit. We all share our harvests.
I make fresh juice on Tuesday, which was a big change from when I used to drink a lot of soda. On the weekends, my son helps me cut up fruits and vegetables that we use to make smoothies and juices throughout the week. One of our favorites is lemonade made of ground dates instead of sugar.
I love our Taco Tuesday tradition because it’s a fun way to get everyone involved in the kitchen. We prepare ground turkey, chicken breast, and chickpeas for our fillings and top our tacos with veggies like lettuce, onions, green peppers, and mushrooms.
I take my dog for a walk around the neighborhood since Tuesdays are my designated night for walking King.
I help my son clean up after our taco buffet and then it’s time for bed. I test my blood sugar, take my meds, drink some more water, and go to sleep.
Day 4 (Wednesday)
I check my blood sugar level and blood pressure. My blood sugar is okay, but my blood pressure is high, so I immediately take my blood pressure medications and wait until after my walk to take my diabetes medication.
I grab water and head out for my morning walk with my friend. While walking, I share an inspirational video in my WhatsApp group about overcoming obstacles. I love seeing other people’s workout posts. It gives me the motivation to do even more!
For breakfast, I make an egg white omelet with tomatoes, onions, peppers, jalapeño, and spinach. I also eat two slices of turkey bacon, whole-wheat toast, and drink a cup of tea.
I water the plants in my garden and pick a few tomatoes. I love that gardening has taught me patience and commitment. I never knew I had such a green thumb!
I eat a whole banana, two peanut butter crackers, and drink a glass of iced tea for a snack. Afterward, I get myself organized and start paying bills and do some other household duties.
Today I make a tuna wrap with blueberries and a peach on the side. I also enjoy a glass of water with mint leaves and sliced cucumbers. I used to not like drinking water, so I get creative by putting mint or fruit in my glass for a bit of flavor.
Tonight’s dinner reminds me of my childhood. I learned to adjust my cooking so I can eat meals that I enjoy with my needs in mind. I make a modified version of griot, which is a staple dish of deep-fried pork in my Haitian culture. I try to limit animal fat because of my high blood pressure, so I use air-fried turkey instead of pork. This helps us tremendously because we don’t lose our culture or the authenticity in our cooking. After all, the flavors are still there!
I checked my blood pressure and blood sugar, and my numbers are a bit high. I take my medications, drink a bottle of water, and go to bed.
Day 5 (Thursday)
I wake up early, do my readings, grab some water, and head out for a walk. My friend and I walk a few blocks this morning, and I feel like I conquered the world. I take a video during my walk and post it to my WhatsApp group chat. I usually post in our chat every morning.
I heat up a spinach quiche with two slices of avocado, tomatoes, and fresh cilantro from my garden.
I have a late lunch today. My cousin brought me a pan of delicious veggie lasagna, and I make some steamed broccoli to eat with it. It’s so important to me that I have supportive family and friends. There were many times where I couldn’t cook when I was recovering after my stroke, and my family brought over dishes to help.
For dinner tonight, I make a kale salad with sautéed mushrooms, lentils, and kidney beans. After dinner, my day is pretty much wrapped up, so I decide to go to sleep extremely early. I take my medication and am off to bed.
Day 6 (Friday)
I overslept because I was having back spasms earlier this morning and feeling some heaviness in my chest. I check my blood sugar and blood pressure (the latter is high). I take my medications and go back to bed so I can get some rest.
I make a quick smoothie that has protein powder, fruit, and vegetables. Having breakfast is crucial to maintaining stable blood sugar, and smoothies are such a quick and simple meal.
I feel better after resting, so I get up and do some light chores around the house. I start to prepare dinner too. On Fridays I meal-prep and make a pot of soup with veggies as well as salads. My weekends can be busy, and I like knowing that I have soup and salad ready to eat when I need them.
Today a friend invited me to lunch at a Greek restaurant. I’ve lost many friends during my health journey because my life’s different now. But I know the friends I have today really care about me. It’s nice to be out chatting and enjoying the company of another person. After looking at the menu, I order chicken kabobs on a bed of Greek salad.
Friday nights are pizza night. Sometimes we order takeout, and other times we get creative in the kitchen and make our own pizzas (which my son loves doing). Tonight we order takeout and I enjoy one slice with a big salad.
After dinner, I go outside, turn the music up, sit with a mocktail, and enjoy the night and music. Then I get ready for bed, so I check my blood sugar, take my meds, and drink some water.
Day 7 (Saturday)
I had another episode of back spasms and tightness in my chest this morning, which really interferes with my sleep, so I decide not to walk and rest instead.
My husband made a smoothie and left it for me in the refrigerator before he went to work. I appreciate the thought, but I don’t feel like eating yet, so I have a cup of hot tea.
I finally drink my smoothie for lunch since I haven’t eaten and know my blood sugar will be low.
I snack on some hummus, veggies, and baked chips.
Before COVID-19, my husband and I would go on dinner dates on Saturdays. Now we are very careful and don’t go out much even though we’ve both been vaccinated. Tonight we order takeout from our favorite Caribbean restaurant for our date. I have salmon, a baked potato, and spinach. I ask the restaurant to prepare my meal without salt because of my blood pressure, and I order onions and sauce on the side so I can control how much I use.
After dinner, we watch a movie, which is a perfect end to our date.
Condition diaries are meant to offer a glimpse into how different people live with different health conditions—not to provide medical advice or treatment.
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