My journey with diabetes – Back from the Brink!!












Hey, I’m back from the brink, minus one lower leg, but smarter, braver, and stronger!!

Thank-you friends and followers for your patience!  I have been MIA for the past months due to some health problems, namely diabetes.  I was literally at the brink of death due to my own stupidity and stubbornness!

As many of you know, I have been diagnosed as a Type II diabetic for many years now.  An old boss of my husband’s would have called it “hand to mouth disease.” To make a long story short, I have been overweight, practically since birth (Oh yes, I was a ten pounder!) with a strong affinity for the sweet taste of sugar.  As time passed, it seemed to become an addiction.  I have been kind of happy to hear that it has been recognized as such, now by scientists and researchers, because in my heart of hearts, during my more lucid moments, I thought I just had no self control.

When my illness finally took me to see my doctor, back in the early 2000’s the disease had escalated to the point that I was experiencing nerve damage in my feet, a sure sign that my blood sugar had been WAY out of control for an extended time.  Not only did I have diabetes, but also high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other ailments most often seen with obesity.  I was promptly put on a drug regime that had me choking down 13 pills every morning, and I was scheduled for mandatory check-ins with my doctor every three months.

The next several years would see my drug intake change from pills (glumetza, then metformin),  then on to injectable insulin (lantis), along with glyburide, to try and get my blood sugar within normal range.  I remember testing one morning and seeing the glucometer read 33!  I should really be in a coma – but I didn’t really feel sick at all!  my family would tell me years later that I was always “loopy”or brain-fogged, not remembering details of things that had been told to me the day before.  Not good when you are trying to run the financial backbone of a medium sized business!  I struggled with my diabetes, unknowingly for the next eight years.  At one point, my East Indian endocrinologist would tell me, “The patient has to take responsibility of their disease, Mrs. Cook.  We have no magic pills to take the symptoms of your diabetes away.  There isn’t any point in my continuing to see you if you don’t follow what I tell you to do.”  Well, that came as somewhat of a wake-up call, but I put it off as rude, condescending behaviour from an older doctor who was well into retirement age, and didn’t have much of a handle on the new diabetic medications that were coming out on the market.  I left his office, promising to get better control of my blood sugar, and to start exercising.  Hah!  As if that were going to happen!

Last year, my nephew and his fiancee invited us to attend their wedding, which was to be held in Cuba in April.  I was very excited to enjoy a ten day sun and sand, all-inclusive eating and drinking fest, while waiting for the big day to arrive.  Well, vacation day finally came, and we boarded the plane to Cuba, me with my seat belt extension in hand, ready to party!

The next few days saw us relaxing on chaise loungers down at the beach, being served pina coladas and cold beer.  My sister and I braved the waves to dip our toes in the ocean, and enjoyed the resort’s pool and swim-up bar in  the afternoons.  My feet took umbrage to these foreign waters, and to my dismay, the callus that I was plagued with, due to ill-fitting shoes, suddenly swelled up, and broke open into bleeding sores!  Warning bells went off in my head about the dangers of infection of the feet due to diabetics, so I presented myself to the resort’s doctor-in-residence forthwith for treatment.

The medical staff at the resort took exceptionally good care of me.  Despite not having  the best quality first aid supplies to work with, they bandaged me up, gave me two shots of penicillin, and some oral antibiotics, and had me return every day for a re-check and to have the dressing changed.  Needless to say, I never got back to the pool for the remainder of our stay.

After we returned home, following the wedding, I saw my family doctor, and she was satisfied that the “diabetic ulcers” were healing.  As time went on, a thick layer of callus grew over the injured area, and I started to relax about it.  For my birthday, I bought myself an Amope pedicure tool.  Although I had been going regularly to have pedicures at a salon, I was not satisfied that the callus was going away to the extent I would have liked to see.  The doctors didn’t seem to be overly concerned about it, so (yeah, I can hear you all going “gasp – oh no!”) yup, I took the Amope tool to my feet.  Things were going well, and I was doing my best not to go too deep with the abrasion, but suddenly, I had gone beyond the brink of safety, and the skin started to bleed.  Well, I thought to myself, “Lucky Paul gave me that awesome little mountain first aid kit for Christmas!” and I promptly used my recently acquired first aid bandaging skills to fix myself up.  I kept this all on the down-low, knowing that my then-Esthetician daughter would have raised the roof if she had known what I had done!

Christmas came and went, and myself and hubby Paul went out to our log cabin country home for an after-Christmas retreat.  My foot was still looking angry, but I was still applying a topical disinfectant and over-the-counter antibiotic ointment and bandaging it up freshly each day.  I wasn’t feeling well, and was blaming the damned holiday season for letting myself get run down.  I was running a fever and felt really lousy, but stubbornly wouldn’t give in to going to see my doctor.  Paul had to travel to Toronto on Search and Rescue business.  My foot was showing signs of infection by now, and the big toe on the right was discoloured.  I finally gave in and asked my daughter and her partner if they could run me over to the ER as my doctor’s office was closed, as it was Saturday.

When I finally got in to see a doctor at the ER, my daughter insisted on accompanying me into the examination area.  When the doctor removed the bandage, my foot was revealed, and the big toe had turned completely black!  “Looks like that is going to have to come off,” said the resident.  “You will have to be referred to an orthopedic surgeon.”  By now, I figured that was going to be the case, so I resigned myself to my fate, which I thought would be a toe-ectomy.

I waited a short few days to see the OS.  The guy looked a little like a hippie, and swaggered into the exam room, all business.  He took one look at the foot and said, “Yeah, that’s gonna have to come off just below the knee.”  To say I was gobsmacked is an understatement!  “We see this all the time, and if you don’t take drastic measures now, you will be back in a month or so to have more of your foot removed, and most likely six month later you will need the below-the-knee amputation.  Just as well to take care of it now.”  He debrided the infected area, then I was presented with papers for my permission to proceed with the surgery, and was sent home with more mega-antibiotics.

It sure wasn’t long before the hospital called me with my surgery date – February 14th.  Great, what a treat for Valentine’s Day!  Paul was so sweet and kind, when I know that he must have been boiling mad inside with the cavalier way I had been handling my health.  He took the stance of “what’s done is done” and kissed me on the cheek as they rolled me away to pre-op. Thank God for his love and unwavering support.  There is nothing more terrifying than being put to sleep and to know that you are going to wake up in pain, with pieces missing.

The next three weeks went by in a blur.  There was pain, but it wasn’t unbearable.  There was discomfort – I thought my ass was on fire due to the abrasion of lying/sitting in the hospital bed, but Paul got me a lambskin mat, and it was bearable. And there was a total loss of independence, and of dignity.  Suddenly I had to use a commode to go to the bathroom, and had to figure out how to stand up and shuffle the couple of feet I had to move to get there, using a walker.  It suddenly hit me!  I was disabled, and was going to be several months in recovery, not to mention, altered for the rest of my life.  All of a sudden I was dependant on walkers, wheelchairs, and all kinds of convalescent equipment for my daily living.

I have always been of the opinion that one is brought adversity in one’s life, just to see how you handle it.  Knowing that there were lots of people in that hospital who were facing their own problems, many of which were much more serious and life-threatening than mine, I had to take the time to be grateful for my blessings.  I have a great husband and family, a comfortable life, and medication and support with which to carry on with my life.  I have never succumbed to depression or for mourning the life I left behind, unencumbered by wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs.  I have taken on the responsibility of getting the message out to others about the dangers of consuming sugar.  It sickens me to see corporations waving all of their high-sugar products in front of our faces, and especially those of our children, encouraging us, like the proverbial drug pushers, to satisfy our sweet craving. They say there is nothing worse than a reformed addict, but I don’t know if I had know then what I know now about sugar and diabetes, if I would have ever taken the bull by the horns and cut down on my carbohydrate consumption. Maybe it took losing my lower leg to bring the raw truth to my  consciousness, and purpose to my actions.

They say it’s no use getting older if you don’t become wiser.  It is six months post-surgery, and I have just completed rehab therapy for using a prosthetic leg.  The people  at the Miller Center here in St. John’s, Newfoundland are excellent, and we had so much fun as I learned to walk again on two legs!  My therapist even told me I was the best patient she had ever seen through therapy, and what I was expecting to take eight months to a year, I accomplished in only six months.  The only thing I am waiting on now, is to have my final prosthetic leg made, once the shrinking of my remaining leg is complete.  That one will be much lighter and more esthetically pleasing-looking than the temporary ones I have been using up till now.  With the help of the diabetes education people at the hospital, I have finally gotten a handle on following the diabetes diet, and have managed to drop mu A1C levels from 9.4 down to 5.4.  the doctor has started to reduce some of my diabetes and blood pressure meds as my numbers are falling back into normal (or even below normal!) range.  I can’t thank Eastern Health enough for all of the in-home services that have been made available to me during my convalescence.  From two weeks of home care, to daily visits from registered nurses to change dressings, to emergency appointments to see my orthopedic Surgeon, to a home IV program to supply me with IV antibiotics without having to be admitted to hospital, to a home monitoring program that allows me to transmit blood sugar readings, blood pressure readings, and my weight to a dedicated remote monitoring team, I have no complaints whatsoever in the care that I have received.  I am, and forever will be very grateful.

So there you have it, my journey back from the brink!  And the brink it truly was, as my surgeon told me after the fact that I had been two days away from sepsis, and that is a very life-threatening, not-good place to be.  I have been granted another chance to live within my restrictions, and can now hope to live a long and happy life.  Although I miss the luxury of a good box of fine chocolates, it is little to give up, when I can aspire to  live out my golden years with my wonderful husband and family.


Thank-you all for reading my story.  I am looking forward to getting back into my writing as I catch up with all of the bookwork I got behind on these last few months.  If you haven’t already read my books, and enjoy action/adventure romance, look me up on  for my novel “The Lion’s Den” at:

or if you’re up for a little Christmas Romance try “Christmas Wishes” at:

Don’t forget, I have a blog running here with lots of snippets from my crazy life.  For a little light reading, and some prequels for “The Lion’s Den”, read on!

I promise to keep in touch via my website and through my facebook page, Author Norma Cook with updates and blog posts, hopefully posting weekly.

Again, thank-you for staying with me!  Adversity is just bumps in the road of life.  Now that I am back from the brink, I will keep calm and soldier on!

Love to all of you from me,

blue glitter norma





me in red - 1

Valentines, Things are getting Hot!!

hEARTS AND BEARThe second hot excerpt from The lion’s den







Hi again, It’s Teaser Tuesday, time for another sneak peak into The Lion’s Den, my action/adventure/romance novel which is due for publication in April 2015.

 At this point in the story, Della and Brad have met one another near his cabin in the Canadian wilderness.  She is on a photoshoot for National Environmental Magazine while he is taking some time off from his work, running an outdoor outfitting business.  Della is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder having recently been through the ordeal of escaping from Pakistan during the Navy Seal’s mission to hunt down Osama bin Laden, a mission in which her boyfriend had been attacked and taken prisoner, and was possibly killed.  Now back in the Canadian wilderness, an encounter with a mother bear and her cubs forces the two to share personal space, which becomes even more personal as their attraction to one another ignites. Here is another hot excerpt from Chapter six of The Lion’s Den.  

It was mid morning when the mighty fishermen decided that they had caught their limit, and they trudged up towards the cabin with their catch in their net, wrapped in some moss.

Noticing movement out of the corner of her eye, Della turned her head and stopped dead in her tracks, whispering, “Oh look, Brad, they’re bear cubs.”

Sure enough, two small black bears were wrestling and playing with each other in the meadow in front of the tent.  They were close to the Hummer at this point, which was parked just in front of the cabin.

“Careful, now, Della,”   Brad whispered, scanning the woods, “Where there’s cubs, there’s usually mother bears.”  With that, a loud grunting sound came from behind the Hummer.  Momma bear had scented intruders who were threatening her babies and she was not happy.

The seven hundred pound animal reared up on its hind legs, making a guttural bawl, looking ready to charge.

Brad dropped the net with the fishing gear, grabbed Della and shoved her under the truck.

“Roll over to the middle,” he yelled.  Della needed no persuasion.  He wrapped her in his arms and laid on top of her.  The animal was pacing around the perimeter of the vehicle, her huge nose snorting and snuffling, and grunting.  Suddenly a large paw swiped in under the left running board and Della turned her face into Brad’s neck, and started to whimper.  He pulled her closer, and not knowing what else to do to distract her, he started to kiss her.  Her lips parted and his tongue tangled with hers, the kiss going hot and wild.  Her body went molten with sensation and she squirmed closer, fitting her body to his hard contours.  She felt so good in his arms.  Her passion matched his as he nuzzled her neck, blazing a trail down to where the

jacket strained across her breasts.  She caught his earlobe in her teeth, her hot breath playing havoc with his senses.  The bear had lost interest in them by now and had discovered their netted lunch and was happily tucking into the fresh trout.  Oblivious to the danger having passed, the couple strained towards each other.

Suddenly, Brad came to his senses, and regretfully pulled his lips from Della’s.  He peered out from under the Hummer and watched the mother bear lumber over to where the cubs were

licking peanut butter off their paws.  The tent was pretty much a write off, with all of its contents strewn across the meadow.

Della’s hand rested against the pocket of Brad’s pants.  She felt something hard digging into her palm.  “Is that your car keys?’  She whispered.

“Oh yeah,” Brad said pulling them out.  He pressed a button on the remote control and the car alarm blared, startling the mother bear that took one last look at the truck, herded her family in front of her and lumbered off into the woods.  Della closed her eyes and slumped over in relief.  Brad tried to rearrange her clothing, softly apologizing for messing her up.  He was mortified that she would think that he had taken the first opportunity to take advantage of her,

when her defences were down. The truth was, he just couldn’t stop himself.  Della was just glad to be alive, and thought that Brad could have taken her right there on the ground with the mother bear chewing on her head and she wouldn’t even have noticed.


cursive norma





While Visions of Sugarplums danced in their Heads

Grab Those Sugarplums While You Can!



We’re down to the last few kilometers in the Christmas madness marathon!

I made the mistake of going out to Wal-Mart this Saturday afternoon to buy a few last minute stocking stuffers. I know, I know, what was I thinking? Blame it on my poor sick mother who needed me to get groceries for her at the supermarket up on Kelsey drive that just happens to be right next door to Wally World. Hey, she needed a new topper for her Christmas tree, okay?

The lure of “everyday low prices” drew me like a siren song as I swung into the shopping district and studiously avoided looking for a parking space in front of the Sobeys Superstore, and instead spied a prime open spot almost in front of Wal-Mart’s front door. Karma, right?

The greeter smiled at me as I breezed in through the portal, the doors opening wide, welcoming me as if I was shopping royalty. She reached for a shopping cart to help launch me into high gear procurement mode, but there wasn’t a four wheeled plum picker in sight. I could see way down in the back of the parking lot, a scrawny little dude remote-controlling the Polar Express of all blue shopping carts, across the tarmac. I couldn’t watch as mothers towing toddlers and little old ladies in walkers scurried out of the way to avoid being mowed down. Luckily for me, a chivalrous exiting shopper offered me his tender, so off I went on my quest for deep discount prices.

My first stop was the candy department, conveniently located right inside the front door, offering every sort of confection known to man. I hunted through the shelves, grabbing all the family favorites; After Eight Mints, Chocolate covered Cherries, Turtles, Hershey Kisses and those Luscious Belgian Chocolate Lindor Truffles, of which they only had the hazelnut kind left. Oh well.

I don’t know what it is about the week before Christmas that puts you in panic mode, shopping. I’m not sure if it’s the pressure of the seemingly endless to-do list of tasks still to be completed, or the fear that you don’t have enough stuff bought to fill the bottomless stockings, but there is this feral frenzy that comes over you to buy. Before I knew it, my cart was full of socks and underwear, a velour track suit for Nanny, a fluffy pink bathrobe, some wrapping paper, and a three foot light up Darth Vader lawn ornament, along with the aforementioned candy and chocolates.

I stopped to admire the trinkets in glass cases at the jewellery department and when I turned around, some middle aged dude was picking through the stuff I had stowed in my cart! When I turned on him with the territorial zeal of a rabid German Sheppard, he backed off apologetically, smarting from the glower that was radiating off my countenance. I must have made an impression on him, because when I queued up behind him in the checkout line, he once again apologized for his mistake. I might have forgiven him if his wife hadn’t picked up the last two packages of milk chocolate Lindor truffles on the rack in the checkout aisle. Crap!

Well, the spirit of Christmas must have shone down upon me as I neared the cashier, forty minutes later as the shopping cart snooper’s wife decided at the last minute to leave the Lindor chocolate behind, and I triumphantly scooped them up and added them to my pile of schwag. Happily, I gloated as the cashier rang up my purchases and even managed to remain standing when she finally read out the total of $429.98! Will that be cash or charge? Arrrrgggghhhh!!!!

sparkly norma

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