10 Reasons You Don’t Want To Be Diabetic

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!
 

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World Diabetes Day – My Story

Today, November 14th, 2008, is World Diabetes Day, something I initially mentioned when talking about National Diabetes Month. Each year, millions of adults and children learn that they’re diabetic; some don’t learn it until they’ve done serious damage to themselves. Being aware of changes in your body that you can’t explain and not being afraid to find out what might be going on could help you avert major problems later in life. I am a diabetic, and I’ve been diagnosed for 11 years. I’d like to tell you my story.

The Pincushion Effect
duisburgbunny via Compfight

Eleven years ago, I was having the best and the worst year of my life. I got married in May of 1997, my first and only marriage, and I’ve had nothing but a great time ever since. In 1997, I took the very first vacation of my life, which was the week after I got married; man, that was a long time before taking a vacation, but my dad never took a vacation until he was in his 50’s; guess I’m a slacker.

Eleven years ago I also had breast surgery to remove a lump that was causing me pain. It wasn’t cancerous, and I have no idea where it came from, and I’d never even thought about the possibility of it being cancerous, but it was my first surgery ever. And I got it approved and paid for by the insurance company; talk about how knowledge will help you achieve things that others might not know about.

Eleven years ago, a few days after my 38th birthday, I was driving back to work from lunch in another town about 10 minutes from the hospital I was working in at the time. I had a co-worker with me, and we were going through a construction zone. In a couple of minutes, I was pulled over by a police car. The officer came to the car and said I was speeding through a work zone. I said that I knew what the speed limit was and wasn’t speeding, but he said the speed limit was reduced in that area. I said I never saw a sign, and my co-worker said there was a sign that I must have missed. I took the ticket and continued driving back to work, but I did notice that I could barely read any of the signs.

That wasn’t the first day, however. I’d noticed it most of the time for a few weeks while driving home from work. I lived over an hour away from where I worked, and it wasn’t a major highway that I drove on, so there weren’t a bunch of signs, and rarely much traffic. Yet, I noticed that I was having vision problems. I’d mentioned it to my wife, and said that it was only when driving home in the evenings; I never had the problem in the morning. So, on the day I drove home after getting the ticket and mentioning it to her again, she said we should head over to the ophthalmologist to have him take a look.

Diabetes! 217/365
Creative Commons License Dennis Skley via Compfight

Talk about serendipity. I had gone to the same place, Sterling Optical, for about 18 or 19 years, and I’d had this same guy looking at my eyes for at least 13 of those years. My prescription hadn’t changed in at least 10 years, and I’d just had an eye exam a month before I got married. So, it was easy for me to walk in and have him take a quick look. He didn’t like what he saw, and said my vision had changed drastically from the last time I was there, and his conclusion immediately was that I might be diabetic.

The breath caught in my throat at his words. Not that I was overly surprised, because it ran in my family, but because out of all my relatives who’d gotten it, I possibly was now the youngest to get it. I figured I had at least six or seven more years before I had to think about it; now it didn’t look that way.

He recommended that I see my primary care physician, which was slightly problematic. I had never selected one because I hadn’t been to the doctors in many years. The last time I’d seen a doctor was 11 years earlier (that #11 pops up all over the place lol); typical American male in that regard, even though I’d had some issues that I probably should have seen a doctor for.

I was raised in a different time; you only went to doctors when your mother took you, when you broke something, or when you were on death’s bed; that was the rule at the time. My wife wanted me to go to a doctor, but I took a detour step first. Since I worked in a hospital and the emergency room was right behind my office, I went in there the next morning and talked with the physician assistant about it. He took a quick glucose test, saw that my number was just under 300, and told me I had to see a doctor; if it had been 50 points higher he’d have had to admit me.

That was that. I called this one doctor with whom I had a cordial relationship with, he took me in, diagnosed me, and started me on the first round of what would become regular check ups and visits with someone about diabetes, including education. Though I’m not the best patient in the world, I do know how to take care of myself and how I’m supposed to eat, and I follow it more often than I don’t follow it, which is a good thing.

Within a week my glucose came down, which was a good thing otherwise I couldn’t have had my surgery, and over the course of the last eleven years I’ve been pretty good for the most part. If they hadn’t changed the high limit from what it was when I was diagnosed I’d be considered as almost perfect for nine of of the eleven years.

As time has progressed, I have had to go on medication, and presently take two different pills a day and two shots of insulin, which I started a year ago on November 2nd. I’m not considered dependent, as it turns out there are different variations of insulin, but it’s helped me boost what the pills can’t do on their own. If I can drop some weight, I could probably get off insulin; but, as some of you know, that’s not quite as easy as I wish it was.

The main point of this story is that everyone needs to pay attention to symptoms that may not necessarily be what you might think are diabetic symptoms. My mother noticed my dad’s diabetes because he started losing a lot of weight, which he himself didn’t notice. I’ve met people who noticed it because they were having numbness in their limbs, and many people notice something wrong when they’re going to the bathroom all the time, or constantly thirsty. Here’s a link to many of the symptoms of diabetes, things you should be looking at if you notice any of them occurring with you or your friends and family members. Caught early, at least you have some kind of fighting chance.

There, my contribution to World Diabetes Day. If you get a chance, check out this interesting post on the day, with videos no less.
 

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