IAEGER — Pamela Diane Worley has fought every obstacle in her way during her life and in her new book, “Diabetes and God’s Unending Grace,” she wants to inspire others to do the same.
Worley was born in McDowell County and grew up on Giant Cake Mountain. Her father sold insurance and her mother was an elementary school teacher. She graduated from Iaeger High School in 1967 and pursued higher education in music education.
She said she has known since she was just five years old what God’s purpose for her life was.
“At age five, I knew deep down inside of me, do not ask me how, unless God put that inspiration there, but people would ask me what I was going to be when I grew up and I said that I was going to be a music teacher,” Worley said. “I knew that from age five on and I knew in God’s plan, I am a born-again Christian, I knew that in God’s plan he had planned for me to teach music and to be a minister of music and that was an early-on calling. I knew that was what I was supposed to do and nothing was going to stop me. So I beat the odds and became a music teacher.”
Worley remembers fondly her childhood in the Appalachian Mountains. She said she was a typical mountain girl who loved to climb the mountains, wade through creeks and go swimming in the summertime. However, she was most interested in music.
“At age five I started piano lessons and the teacher told me that I had absolutely no talent, not to pursue it because I would not look at the notes when I was taking piano lessons,” Worley said. “Back in that day and time, piano teachers would always play the song first and then you would try it for yourself. Well, I found out early on that I could play by ear and I could just play right-back what the teacher had just played without looking at the music.”
While that teacher was not supportive of Worley’s dreams, she continued to study music. She attended Marshall University to study music education. Soon, she transferred to another school, Bob Jones University.
“I went there expecting to be a music education teacher and they told me that I had no talent. It was a hurtful experience because I did sing, I was majoring in voice and piano,” Worley said. “I graduated with a degree in education and I decided to take the state teacher exam to see if I can get qualified to teach music and I did. I passed the one I took for Florida when my husband and I lived there. I also passed the test for Alabama and finally passed the music exam to teach in Texas. So in spite of the barrier to graduate as a music major, I was able to pass the exams and teach music. I am a retired music education teacher here in the state of Texas.”
She was an Elementary Music Specialist and loved every minute of it. “I was very good at it because I had a masters degree, I went ahead and pursued that in education and was able to full fill a life dream of becoming a music teacher and that is what I became,” she said.
Worley beat not only these obstacles in her fight for her dream, but she was also simultaneously fighting Type One Diabetes.
“I developed insulin-dependent Type-1 Diabetes while a junior at Iaeger High School,” Worley said. “I developed diabetes at the age of 15 and it struck our family very hard and very unexpectedly. I had gone to a Christmas party around December 5, 1967, and at that party, I had eaten quite a bit of candy, as kids do and I began to feel very nauseated. The host of the party said that I looked sick and she was going to take me home and from that moment on, I spiraled into a diabetic coma and nearly lost my life.”
The doctors told Worley’s parents that they did not expect her to live through the coma and if she did that she would probably only live to be 25 and was never expected to be able to have children, but Worley beat those odds too.
Worley’s description of treating diabetes in the 1960s is troubling. She has always been insulin-dependent and spent many years boiling her glass and stainless steel insulin kits to sterilize them before injecting herself, every morning before school. The nearest doctor was in Welch and she and her mother drove to see him every three months to get her blood taken and then wait for the results all day in the lobby. By about 1966, Worley was able to treat her diabetes with a fully disposable needle kit.
Soon, she headed off to college at Marshall University where she played the trumpet in the marching band. She admits that with her doctor hundreds of miles away, she was not as attentive to her health. She was mindful of it and ate a chocolate bar before marching band practice, but one day that wasn’t enough.
“After practice, I got very hyperglycemic, a blood pressure drop, to the point where I was having hallucinations, seeing red flashes of symbols in my brain, not thinking clearly, not being able to tell anyone my name, I was sweating profusely,” Worley recalled. “The dining hall was right next to the practice field, but I could not remember where the dining hall was to eat. This kind student came up to me and I had never seen her before. She asked if I needed help and I said yes.”
That student helped Worley find her trumpet case in the field and helped her to the dining hall.
“She put my trumpet away and she led me to the dining hall, got my plate for me, loaded it up, got my ticket stamped and lo and behold, she disappeared,” Worley said. “That was a phenomenal thing to me. It was like an angel of God coming to rescue me. It could have been another student, it could have been that my brain was confused, I did not know.”
Finally, in 1983 the insulin pump was invented and her doctor prescribed her one, effectively changing her life.
“That has been the greatest invention since the wheel,” Worley said. “I am on a pump today that does just about everything the human pancreas would do. It maintains me, it does the work that I used to do. I am very pleased with that pump and that has been the latest technology that has just been miraculous.”
Worley now lives with her immediate family in Corpus Christi, Texas. Her husband is retired from the Coast Guard and the couple has three children, Stephen, Phillip and an adopted daughter from Seoul Korea, who has given them two beautiful grandchildren.
She has worn multiple musical hats throughout her career and called herself a “jack of all trades of music.” She has done various duties in her churches through the years, such as choir director, an organist, she played in the church orchestra and has been directing plays and musicals for years.
“Right not at age 70, I am the assistant director with the Corpus Christi patriot band and honor guard and I play horn and I am also the assistant conductor,” Worley said. “I compose music, I have also done a lot of arrangements with the band with all of the instrumental parts.”
Worley said that she had her book, “Diabetes and God’s Unending Grace,” in her head for years before she wrote it all out...in just three days.
“I create things in my brain before I write them down,” Worley said. “I was contemplating writing this book in my mind for about five or six years and I was thinking it out chapter by chapter and what I should say and I realized there have been over 40 times that I should have died, but didn’t because of low blood sugar,” Worley said. “I have had two heart attacks, blood poisoning, I have had some of the worst things you can imagine, but God brought me through every single one of them.”
In August 2019, Worley said that the Lord told her that it was time to write and publish her book. She began researching publishers and found her match with Christian Faith Publishers. “I searched and searched for a Christian publisher, finally I saw an advertisement on television called Faith Christian Publishing. I felt like it was an honest agency that I could trust,” Worley said. “They worked like troopers on my book and they produced a beautiful copy.”
Worley said that her purpose is to inspire and encourage Type One and Type Two Diabetics worldwide to not let the disease limit them.
“Losing consciousness and the low blood pressures are terribly dangerous and I attribute that to God watching over me and he must have at least 100 angels watching me and I was running them ragged at some points,” Worley said laughingly. “I said, ‘Lord, I have to write this book so that I can share with the readers that in spite of diabetes and out of the determination of heart and mind, you can do anything that you set out to do.”
“Diabetes and God’s Unending Grace,” by Pamela Worley is available for purchase online at Amazon Books and at Barnes and Noble, and other book distributors.
— Contact Emily Rice at email@example.com