Diabetes is the fastest growing disease in the world today. It’s considered as a somewhat controllable disease for the majority of people because if most people could control their weight and live a healthier lifestyle they have a chance to stave it off altogether, or at least reduce their reliance on things such as medications.
I’ve written enough about my being diabetic on this blog to depress everyone. Yet I feel that I need to write about it again. So, other than the links I’ve included in this post, I figured I’d throw out 10 reasons why you really don’t want to be diabetic, and should think yesterday about starting to try to life a healthier lifestyle. By the way, you can be healthy and still get it for many reasons; just wanted to make that clear.
1. The testing. I have to check my blood glucose at least once a day, sometimes as much as 3 times a day. I used to have to prick my finger to check my glucose, and even 9 years later I would flinch whenever I did it; just couldn’t get used to it. Now I have a kit where I can check it through my hand. It almost doesn’t hurt unless I do it incorrectly. Still, I have to test and remember to test because of #2.
2. The numbers. In the early days, when I was first diagnosed, once I brought my glucose down I’d check and my numbers would look great and I’d think that maybe I’d just had an episode because I was eating badly. Thirteen years later, sometimes it seems that no matter what I do, I can’t bring the numbers down. And then, every once in awhile I bring the numbers down too far. So, it’s either the shakes or the lethargy; balance can be tough.
3. The lethargy. Let me talk about the lethargy a bit more. When the lethargy hits you it’s like you’re going to fall asleep and never wake up. Okay, it’s not always that bad, but it can be scary. If I happen to eat the wrong thing, I can become quite lethargic within an hour; sometimes within 30 minutes. It’s a good thing I work from home because there’s no stopping the nap. And sometimes, it’s going to be a major effort to wake up. My scariest episode was being down for almost 4 hours and having my wife have to help me wake up when she got home from work; at least I’ve made sure that’s never happened again.
4. The food. Food becomes tough to gauge, I have to say. If I eat broiled or baked chicken without the skin I can do fairly well, even if I put some sauce on it. Protein in general terms helps keep me more alert. But it’s not perfect, and no one can continually just eat protein. Gauging things like rice is a difficult thing; believe it or not, the same goes for a serving of mixed vegetables, which supposedly has more starch in them, and thus that helps make one tired. Trying to find the right diet can feel mind numbing sometimes.
5. The portions. Sometimes the food is fine, but trying to figure out proper portions can be a trip. When I lost some weight last autumn it followed my trying to eat more food at every meal, believe it or not. That worked, measuring and all, except I was only eating one thing at a time. So I could eat 8 to 12 ounces of chicken and that was fine for awhile. But I found myself hungry and dissatisfied. The counselor I was working with suggested adding some things to it. Those things gave me more energy, but I didn’t lose anymore weight; I didn’t gain any either. It becomes hard finding a balance in how much one can eat to sustain and how much one can eat to lose weight. And I’m not good at that.
6. Insulin. Yeah, I’ve jumped right to this one because I’m on insulin. It’s actually what’s called a slow acting 70/30 mix, but it’s still insulin. Because it’s slow acting it lasts longer than traditional insulin, but it also takes awhile to start working. Insulin actually promotes weight gain; isn’t that an interesting conundrum. So, you work hard to lose weight by portioning out food and going to the gym but if you don’t work out hard enough you won’t lose weight because of the insulin. And you can’t stop the insulin because you need help keeping your glucose down; isn’t that a trip?
7. Medications. There are oral medications one can take, but trust me they’re a crap shoot at best. I was put on 6 different medications before my doctor got me on the one I take once a day now, along with the insulin. But here’s the thing; if I forget to take it, and I do, it could take up to a week for it to start working as it’s supposed to again; ugh. This means that it’s almost impossible to get glucose down again, no matter what I do; almost, that is. Some medications have now been recalled because medication is always dangerous to someone; I’m glad I was never put on any of those, but you just never know when a study will come out and throw you for a loop.
8. Exercise. You have to exercise at some point to help bring your glucose down; there’s just no getting around it. But exercise can have this interesting thing that can mess you up. For instance, it turns out that one isn’t supposed to exercise if one’s glucose is too high; I ignore that one, which for most people might not be the smart thing to do. You could injure yourself if your glucose is too high by doing certain exercises, and since when glucose is high your blood flow isn’t great, pooling blood due to injury is a bad thing. When my glucose is high I only walk and do stomach crunches, no weights, so I figure I might be fine. But there are also times when I might push a bit too much without realizing it and my glucose drops drastically, especially if it’s warm or I overheat. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, usually you don’t know it’s coming and suddenly you’re there. So, even exercise is a crap shoot sometimes.
9. Thirst & Bathrooms. Talk about a weird loop in one’s life. Diabetics can be abnormally thirsty sometimes. This means they drink a lot of water. Yet they can also have to go to the bathroom often, whether they’re drinking lots of liquids or not. Drinking too much water can force your kidneys to work too hard, and as a diabetic they don’t filter all that well so it puts a lot of stress on them. Not drinking enough water and going to the bathroom a lot means your body is losing fluids, of course, but that means you overheat and thus will have other issues, so you need to make sure you drink enough water. But you never know which one will come to pass sometimes. For me, I drink a lot of liquid in the evenings, and thus go to the bathroom a lot in the evening as well. If I drink tea or soda in the morning, I’m going to be going to the bathroom every 10 to 15 minutes eventually; it’s the oddest thing.
10. Fear. The more you learn about diabetes, the more scared you get. I’ve only touched on some of the simple stuff. But I have to be checked to make sure my fingers, toes, feet and legs aren’t starting to get numb all the time. If I feel a little bit of a tingle I wonder if it’s my shoes or the diabetes. My eyesight was what helped indicate that I was diabetic, and you wonder if your glucose is high for awhile if you’re going to drive yourself blind. Most diabetics leave this earth because of heart problems, and thus there’s that stress in worrying about things such as exercise or even shoveling snow, especially when every once in awhile you get a weird pain in your chest that you’re unsure of. Rapid heartbeats are scary; night sweats are scary, and I’ve experienced both. And you don’t even want to know about the chills that sometimes comes without warning, and there’s nothing you can do about them, shower, blankets, heaters, nothing except wait them out, which can take hours. Nope, not fun at all.
I implore you to be proactive on this bad boy. Go to the doctor and let them test you for it; getting it early is a big deal. Work on some kind of eating plan that avoids tons of carbs and sugar. Work out even a little bit, because it all helps. And learn more about the symptoms before you get it, then especially afterwards if you get it. Yeah, there are lots of things that say they can get you under control, even “cure” you. Nothing cures it, but it can be managed. However, if you can avoid it… do that!