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Diabetes & Emotions

The Two Faces of Diabetes – 466


My diabetes seems to have two faces, or sides. The side I like to show in public, and the side I like to keep secret.

The public side of my diabetes shows the world that their misconceptions about Type 2 are all wrong. I exercise, I’m a healthy weight, I check my blood sugar on a regular basis, and I watch my carbs. This is the side that I like to present to the world. This is the side that shouts out, “Colas full of sugar didn’t give me diabetes, so there!” The side that says that genetics is to blame more than anything else.

However there is the other side of my diabetes. It’s the side that wants to get comfy in the recliner and eat a whole bag of chips in one sitting. The side that wants to eat chocolate chip cookies with milk until I have a tummy ache. The side that says “Not today!” to exercise. The side that thinks maybe I did something to “earn” the diagnosis of diabetes. The side that shows that I am human. The side that shows that I am not perfect. The side that wants to curl up in a ball and cry.

Honestly this is very close to how I feel as a mom of five kids. The public side is a very organized mom with five amazing kids. The other side is my cluttered house and lucky if I know what day it is sometimes.

Unfortunately our society only sees the side that I want to hide. The media portrays Type 2 diabetics as older, overweight individuals with unhealthy lifestyles. Where are the young, healthy Type 2s with some bum genes? I know we’re out there. I’ve met many through the DOC and other advocacy work. Where are those who develop Type 2 due to other medical conditions such as PCOS? Why doesn’t the media talk about that?

Why doesn’t the media show us the side of diabetes that takes the blame off the patient and admits that sometimes things happen no matter what you do? When are we going to realize that correlation does not equal causation?

When are we going to stop shaming people who live day to day with a life threatening chronic illness?

Diagnosis Stories

Angry For Change: A Type 2 Diabetic’s Diagnosis Story – 262

Most of us can remember the moment when we were diagnosed: we were at the doctor’s office; we were at the hospital; we were at home and got a phone call; etc… Time just seemed to stop. We knew our lives were never going to be the same… and we were scared.

I’m no different. I’m just like you. Perhaps even more like you, than you think. I can tell you all about that day… Or was it that week? When did it all start? You see, I can tell you exactly how and when I was diagnosed, but I have a hard time pinpointing when it all started.

I know I had been fighting chronic yeast infections — an embarrassing situation which often leaves many wondering about one’s own personal hygiene habits. The RN at the local clinic, annoyed at my continued return and my requests for more medications, gave me pamphlet upon pamphlet on how to care for, and avoid getting them… and even my husband got treated, just on the chance he was passing the infections right back to me. When nothing else worked, the RN decided, on a hunch, to test the level of glucose in my urine. I remember she came back into the room, pale as a sheet. She really didn’t seem comfortable telling me that my blood glucose was very, very high, and that I needed to visit with my PCP as soon as possible.

So, I went out to lunch, had some Subway with my husband (unaware of the role of carbohydrates on blood glucose), went home… sat on the sofa, while contemplating the Christmas tree, and then I fell asleep. Right on the sofa, and just like that. Like narcolepsy.

I went over to see my PCP, after having paid for my own lab exams at the hospital. I was simply not confident the woman was going to take me seriously, nor investigate the matter further. My fasting blood glucose was 235 mg/dL, and my A1C was 10.5%… And I was right. She looked at the numbers, and scoffed. Asked if I was sure. Asked if I had tested more than once, at over 200 mg/dL. Yes I was sure, and yes I had. I’ll never forget her poor reassurance of “Well, let me go to the American Diabetes Association website, so I can tell you what to do…”

I can tell you that, at the moment, I was very ANGRY at my PCP. You see, it was November 17 of 2009, when I was diagnosed, but I had already spoken to my PCP, back in June, regarding high blood glucose. I hadn’t been feeling well, for a while. I was sluggish, tired all the time, and hardly eating many meals. I remember that my husband said he thought I might have diabetes. I remember using his meter to test after having a meal — roughly 3 hours later. I remember the number being over 150.

I was familiar with bad numbers, though not exactly where they began. My father had type 2 diabetes, and passed away from complications from the disease — so I had an idea. I suspected this was not an okay number, and so I brought it up to my PCP’s attention. I was thinking — well, at the least, they can run a glucose tolerance test (which I had had earlier, in my youth) — and then we can know for sure.  But that’s not what happened. I was simply told the number was fine, and that I shouldn’t worry about it. “Just eat better, and lose some weight.”

I was very depressed, at the time. I had severe clinical depression. I can’t say that I had it in me to follow the doctor’s advice. I just didn’t. While I was really not eating much, the things I was eating were not the healthiest — simply quick meals one can eat, and then just go back and die on the sofa. I had been sick for a while. Back in 2008, I had developed a very big, and terrible abscess on the crease of my right thigh, and buttock. I thought it was probably from the laying so much on the sofa… but it was likely infected from high blood sugar, and my body’s inability to fight back.

But when did the depression start?

I know that I became ill in 2007, roughly around Spring. I began having panic attacks, and anxiety. I began having extreme anxiety at the thought of being at work. My job was going through a series of changes — new bosses, the company was sold, massive layoffs, etc. Between these changes, and my increasing mental health problems… I just couldn’t hang on.

For most of 2007, I had been hospitalized, and put on countless depression medications, each one stronger than the next. No one ever bothered to really check my overall health, or my glucose levels, at all… except for liver function tests. It turned out, I developed fatty liver. Fatty liver is one of the major indicators of type 2 diabetes — yet no one thought to check my blood glucose, in any way. They still kept me on the dangerous medications I was on — until I had a massive seizure at my desk, which was one of the final straws that lead to my dismissal. In Fall of 2007, having exhausted my Family Medical Leave, my employer let me go… and I was no healthier, and no better than I was when it all started.  I saw myself as a broken vessel. Shamed, and broken, and never able to work again. I got, and lost, many jobs after that — never able to quite hang on to my own mental health.

But did I have any signals before my depression ensued?  Yes… Back in December, of 2006.

I was under the care of a different PCP, at the time… and I remember I was having chest pains, and palpitations. The doctor ran a series of tests, including a stress test, and a fasting glucose test. All the tests found nothing, but my fasting glucose was 143. I was told I was fine. No one ever told me I could have diabetes, nor that there was anything wrong… In fact, they never sent for a single follow up test. It never dawned on me that it was a bad number, until one day, a few months after my diagnosis; a few months after I had gained knew knowledge… I was looking through my old medical paperwork, and I found the tests.

I was very, very angry… I can’t tell you how betrayed I felt. I got seriously ill, and I could have developed all manner of complications. It’s only by chance, and luck, and my decision to tackle my diagnosis right away, that I’ve fared so well. But it lead me to believe that something was seriously WRONG with our medical systems if so many red flags went up and none were investigated. I  hear stories like mine all the time… and they are one of the driving factors behind my desire to advocate, and blog.

Nowadays, I keep looking back… back into my history: where did it all start? When did all the dominoes begin to fall?

As a child, I used to be thin and active. I was a happy child. But one day, I began to gain weight, my hair lost it’s luster, and I developed darkened patches around my neck, my knees, and my inner thighs. My growth became stunted, and I never grew past 4’9″ tall. Puberty made a mild appearance, and then took off. My period came, and then left, never to return on its own. I lost all energy, and after years of blame from my parents, I was eventually diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), and Hypothyroidism, at the age of 15.

For years, I thought those conditions were my fault, my own doing; that I made myself fat, somehow. The negative interactions regarding my health, between my mother and I, lead to binge eating disorder, which aggravated my weight gain. I made myself sick between dieting, deprivation, binging, and guilt cycles… But a new age was dawning — the age of the internet — and in 1994, armed with new information, I learned a lot more. PCOS is one of the most common, reproductive endocrine disorders, which can affect a woman of reproductive age — anywhere past the age of 7. Little is known about the condition, except that it is suspected to cause hyperinsulinemia (a mass production of insulin), which can then lead one’s ovaries to enlarge, and fail at releasing eggs. It can also lead to massive weight gain, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

I can’t say for sure that it was just ONE factor which lead to my diabetes — I’m sure family history, genetics, ethnicity, depression, weight gain and the hyperinsulinemia from PCOS, were all contributors. But I can tell you something… I did not bring this on myself — and neither did you.

And while I still struggle, and I am far from perfect, and while I fall a lot… I get back up. I get back up because I’m angry… and I am angry enough to change the one person in the world which I can change… MYSELF. I do it for my father, I do it for my grandfather, I do it for my friends and my family. I do it for you… and I do it for me. And you can do it, too.

Management & Care, Treatment & Medication

The Flawed One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Type 2 Diabetes – 404

The more I observe the general approach being employed by many in the medical and diabetes health communities to address the ‘diabetes epidemic,’ the more I wince.

At the heart of the matter, there seems to be a general undercurrent of belief regarding the condition: diabetes type 2 is a straightforward situation, so just exercise more, and eat less. I get that vibe a lot when I watch TV, read the news, or read the blogs of many a well-meaning health professional and health advocacy organization. While this is generally true in principle and the advice and ideas of many of these folks are helpful, one comes away with the impression that they consider diabetes to be a one-size-fits-all situation, where people are simply undisciplined. This is a nearsighted perspective that is unhelpful for the patient – it fails to truly address the multi-dimensional psychological aspects of a person living with the condition, and thus, their ability to truly embrace the challenge.

What do I mean by this?

What I mean is that diabetes is simply a symptom of a problem. Let’s think about this situation for a moment. Would we tell an anorexic or bulimic patient who has developed heart disease to simply start eating more, or to simply stop throwing up? No. We understand that these behaviors are symptoms of a larger problem – that there are psychological challenges at work, creating disordered eating in this person’s life. We can tell a person with anorexia how undereating will kill them, or a bulimic how throwing up will damage the enamel of their teeth – but no amount of information is going to stop the disordered behavior. There needs to be intense psychological intervention in order to address the warped perceptions in the patient’s life.

This is just one example of how a chain of events can lead to chronic condition in someone’s life. Every ‘someone’ ought to be treated in ways which are tailored to their life experience. Now, while not all persons with diabetes are obese, the fact of the matter is that the majority of persons with type 2 diabetes have some disordered eating, are overweight, or are obese, and the reasons for this need to be addressed.

  • There are some folks who may have gained some weight simply because they are very busy — be it busy parents with families, or busy professionals – and they might just need some help tweaking their habits. These types of folks could benefit from just a bit of guidance on how to readjust, and minimize just reaching for the convenient meal or junk food snack;
  • There are folks who’ve gained weight due to illness, medications, or immobility, and could use some help juggling the situations; and
  • There are some folks who genuinely have disordered eating, and have gained massive amounts of weight: folks who use food as a form of comfort, as a form of treating pain or depression, as a form of coping with life much in the same ways a person might use drugs or alcohol, etc.

Whatever that person’s reason to struggle with disordered eating which has lead to weight gain – it needs to be addressed first. We recognize that disorders like anorexia and bulimia are dangerous, and not just a matter of ‘eating more,’ and stopping the dangerous habits. So why don’t we recognize that a large number of people who are obese also have a deadly eating disorder and are in need of psychological attention? Would we throw an eating plan at folks with anorexia, or bulimia, and expect them to fix themselves? Or would we give them much needed psychotherapy, and coaching, to help them succeed?

We need to understand that type 2 diabetes can affect a large variety of people who are in many different walks of life, and with many different social challenges. Assessing the patient in a wholistic way – addressing the level of psychosocial support and therapy that a patient might need in order to overcome their health challenges will be ESSENTIAL to managing the diabetes epidemic. There is no amount of healthy foods, exercise facilities, and information that can fix a person whose mind is warped by the thoughts and cycles of disordered eating. Therapy is needed, and it must not be ignored.

Management & Care

Medical Jewelry and Emergency ID Cards – 142

It should be abundantly clear to everyone by now that, when it comes to type 2 diabetes and congestive heart failure, I’m definitely “out”.  I mean, I write for two different blogs, My Diabetic Heart and The Type 2 Experience, and I talk about it frequently both online and offline.  That openness has been something of a hallmark mine since I was diagnosed in December 2008.

Something that came to light when I started my journey was the question of what would happen if I were to find myself in a situation where I couldn’t speak for myself.  How would someone be able to find out that I have type 2 diabetes and CHF, and what to do for me, if I couldn’t tell them?

The solution was simple: medical jewelry and emergency identification cards.

Initially, I doubled up on the medical jewelry; I had both a dog tag necklace and a custom made bracelet.  I know that may sound like overkill to some, but it was during a time when I was dealing with a lot of anxiety related to my heart problems.  It made me feel more secure having them on when I left home.

My first bracelet and necklace.

My first dog tag came from American Medical ID.  It had a large medic alert symbol and my diagnoses on the front, and had my name, an emergency contact, an abbreviated medication list, and instructions to look for the emergency ID card in my wallet on the back.  The emergency ID card contained additional information about my diagnoses, all of the medications that I was taking at the time, my doctor’s contact information, a list of allergies, and last but not least, a list of emergency contacts.

My bracelet wasn’t your typical medical alert bracelet; I really didn’t care for the standard ones found in the drug stores and wanted something unique to me.  I ended up visiting the Things Remembered store in the local mall and had something made there.  It was a simple black rubber band with stainless steel accents and a watch style clasp, and the center piece had the medic alert symbol engrave on it, along side my diagnoses.  I really liked it.  It got the job done and had the added bonus of being something that people noticed and asked questions about.

You know what that meant, right?  It provided more opportunities to talk about type 2 diabetes and congestive heart failure.

The broken bracelet and the new necklace.

As my situation and tastes have changed over the past few years, I’ve acquired new jewelry and updated my emergency ID cards.  I’ve worked through a lot of the anxiety that I mentioned before and currently only wear the new necklace I bought last month after my bracelet broke for the second time.  Admittedly, it does feel weird not having the bracelet on my wrist, but as long as I have some sort of ID on I’m cool with it.

While I hope and pray that I’ll never find myself incapacitated and needing my medical jewelry and emergency ID cards to speak for me, I know that it is a real possibility and therefore consider them a worthwhile investment.

The way I see it, it’s a little bit of money for a little peace of mind.  Not just for me, but for my loved ones.  They are worth it.  I am too.

Diabetes & Emotions

There’s More to Me – 161

No matter where I’m going, or what I’m doing, my health problems are always with me.  Type 2 diabetes and congestive heart failure impact pretty much every aspect of my life in some way or another.  While that may be the case, it is also true that I’m not merely a person with diabetes and heart problems.  There’s more to me than that.

I’m a son, a brother, a nephew, a grandson, and a boyfriend.  I’m fortunate to have a mother who’s always there when I need her, even if it means having to drive 250 miles to get to me.  I have a younger sister who always asks when I’ll be coming to visit.  I have an aunt and uncle whom I can’t thank enough for everything they do for me and the rest of the family, and a grandmother who has, quite literally, been there for me from the beginning; she helped deliver me.  And last, but certainly not least, I have a wonderful girlfriend who has stuck with me through the good times and the bad times for over 10 years.  April & I met on move-in day at the beginning of our freshman year of college, and have been together ever since.

I’m an educated man, and an employee.  I earned a Bachelors of Science in Internet Technologies from Indiana Tech, and work as a systems guy for a morning newspaper.  Being a code monkey is both a hobby and my means of paying the bills.

I’m an artist, a photographer, and a writer.  I love to draw all sorts of things.  Landscapes, still-lifes, and portraits are my favorite things to draw.  And that transfers into the photographs I take as well.  I love taking photos of nature; flowers, animals, rivers, and clouds.  Many lend themselves well to the poetry and stories that I write from time to time.

And believe it or not, I haven’t always been as open and outgoing as I am now.  I’ve always been a rather private person, almost a hermit really.  I know, it’s probably hard for some of you to wrap your head around what I just said, considering how forth coming I am about things in my blog posts and tweets.  Nevertheless, it’s true.

So, what influenced that change and got me out of my shell?  Being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes and Congestive Heart Failure! Like I said, they impact every aspect of life, and they change perspectives.

And I like to think it’s changed mine for the better.

Diagnosis Stories

Mike’s Diagnosis Story – 254

This is an edited version of my story that I’ve shared on my personal blog and elsewhere.

I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes on Dec. 29, 2008, and Congestive Heart Failure on December 30, 2008.  The road to each diagnosis began about a month earlier.

I initially went to the doctor for what I thought was a yeast infection.  Turns out I was right, and given my weight, family history, and some other factors, the doctor suspected that I might be diabetic.  My blood pressure was rather high at the time, too.  Again, given family history, weight, etc…, the doctor decided to order a battery of tests to check the condition of my heart as well. So, after a month of testing, waiting, and worrying about what could possibly be wrong with me, my doctor called me in to share all of the results.

My A1C at diagnosis was 9.6.  My heart was functioning at 30% – 35% capacity, and there was a blockage in one of the arteries.

Hearing that I was diabetic didn’t really surprise me.  As I said, there were several factors in play at the time, as well as what in hindsight were some rather obvious symptoms.  What scared the hell out of me was when the doctor started talking about the results of the heart tests.  I had lost my father, 47, to a massive heart attack just 7 months before.  I was 24 and seemed destined to meet the same end.

After I was diagnosed, I was put on a pretty strict 1,500 calorie diet and an insane medication regimen to help both of my diagnoses.  And it helped a lot.  I lost about 40 pounds (mostly water weight) within the first few months after my diagnosis, and had lowered my A1C from 9.6 to 6.5.  That was 4 years ago.

Today, things are a bit different.  For one, I gave up on the strict diet because I felt like I was starving and depriving myself all the time.  I’m eating healthy foods and the things that I enjoy in moderation.

After trying several oral medications with limited success, I’ve switched to injectable medications.  Currently, I’m using Victoza in the morning and the long acting insulin Lantus at night.  I also have the fast acting insulin Novolog to use with a sliding scale when I need it.

I’m also exercising on a regular basis and have joined a gym.

My last A1C was 6.5, and my heart is functioning at around 47%.  Much better than it was.

Overall, I’m much healthier now than I was at the time of my diagnosis.  And so far, I’ve beaten the odds that were against me.

I would be lying if I told you that life with type 2 diabetes is a walk in the park.  It’s not.  There are days when it can be extremely difficult to manage despite my best efforts.  On the flip, there are days when things are easy going.  As with all things in life, you have to take the good with the bad.  And you do get used to it over time.  You don’t like it, but you get used to it.  The important thing to remember is that no two people experience type 2 diabetes in the same way and, as such, what works for me may not work for you.

I’ve been completely open about my diagnosis from the beginning.  Family, friends, my employer and coworkers, you name it.  They all know.  I’m not ashamed of it, so why hide it?  I even started a blog, www.mydiabeticheart.com, to tell people what it’s like to live with type 2 diabetes and congestive heart failure.

Of course, I’ve gotten a lot of the annoying, uneducated reactions that people diagnosed with any type of diabetes receive.  From comments about my weight to eating too much sugar, I’ve heard them all.  Ultimately, telling people around me of my diagnosis was a matter of safety.  At least one person around should know about it and be able to help in the event that I have a problem.

It’s important to remember that I can do anything that my friends can.  Sure, I may have to plan for meals and make adjustment here and there to fit my needs, and I may need to take a break and check my blood glucose while out, but I can still do anything my friends can.

Just make the most of the life and health that you have.  Live each day to the fullest, take care of yourself.

There is great life after diagnosis.  Live it!

Confiant infirmière qualifié permanent et toucher à l’écran invisible. — Photo

Diabetes & Emotions, General

30 things about Mike’s Invisible Illnesses – 445

A couple of years ago, during Invisible Illness Week, I took part in a writing challenge that asked participants to share  30 things about the invisible illness with which they live.  My original response was posted over on my blog, My Diabetic Heart, and it was recently featured by the good folks over at Diabetes Daily.

Confiant infirmière qualifié permanent et toucher à l’écran invisible. — PhotoLike I said, it’s been a couple of years and there have been some changes in my routine and way of thinking.  So, it’s time for an update.  Here we go!

  1. The illnesses I live with are: Type 2 Diabetes & Congestive Heart Failure
  2. I was diagnosed with them in the year: 2008
  3. But I had symptoms since:   Longer than I really care to admit.  Looking back, I probably had the symptoms of type 2 diabetes for at least a few years before I developed the yeast infection that led me to the doctor.  I’d been experiencing some chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, etc… related to the congestive heart failure for a while too.  As with so many people, I didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford a doctor visit.
  4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: Has been in my attitude and outlook on life.  And I’m thankful that it has changed for the better.
  5. Most people assume: That because I’m a big guy I must have given myself Type 2 Diabetes and Congestive Heart Failure.  And you know the saying about the word “assume”.
  6. The hardest part about mornings are: Is that my mornings are really afternoons.  I work nights. And working nights with diabetes and congestive heart failure is a challenge.  You might even say it’s not for the faint of heart. Pun intended.
  7. My favorite medical TV show is: I don’t really have one.
  8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: My meter.  My cell phone is a close second. I use it to keep track of all of my doctor appointments, med refills, etc…
  9. The hardest part about nights are: Well, I work nights as a professional code monkey for a newspaper. So, I’ve got thoughts about diabetes, heart failure, etc… racing around while I’m working through complex algorithms needed to make things work properly and what I end up with is a potential disaster topped off with a migraine headache.   By the way, chronic migraines are another invisible illness I deal with.
  10. Every day I take 10 different oral medications, some multiple times a day, take one injection of Victoza and one injection of Lantus, multiple injections of Humalog, use an asthma inhaler, and a nasal spray. And the cost of all of those medications and related supplies, even with insurance, is astronomical.
  11. Regarding alternative treatments I: If by alternative treatments you mean cinnamon, miracle diets, and snake oils, I’m not a subscriber to the philosophy.
  12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: I’m torn on this.  Some days, I’m glad that my conditions are invisible because it’s easy to conceal them on the days when I just don’t feel like talking about it.  On the flip side though, there are many days when I wish people could see the hell that’s going on in my body.   So people could understand that life with type 2 diabetes isn’t easy and that congestive heart failure is scary as hell.
  13. Regarding working and career:  Honestly, I work for the insurance, and for the money to pay the co-pays forced on me by the insurance company.  And I’ve been doing this work thing in the same place for 8 years now. I guess you can call that a career.
  14. People would be surprised to know:  That prior to my diagnoses, I really didn’t care about Twitter. I had no use for it, and thought it was just another trendy thing that would fizzle. And after using Twitter and other social media and being constantly plugged in for nearly 6 years, I found myself feeling tired of it all and decided to take a step back to focus on my needs.
  15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: The overwhelming financial burden that has come with it.
  16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: when I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure, I gave up all hope of ever being able to fly on an airplane.  Everything I read and heard indicated that I shouldn’t it.  I’m so thankful that I’ve had that opportunity, and that all of my flights since were taken to meet with my DOC friends.
  17. The commercials about my illness: Annoy the hell out of me.
  18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is:  If anything, I miss not constantly thinking about my health.  It gets old.
  19. It was really hard to have to give up:  You know, I don’t believe that I’ve given up much at all.  Well, not unless you count giving up my sanity, and I didn’t have much of that to lose to begin with.
  20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: Traveling to meet strangers I meet on the internet.  And I do so at the drop of a hat.
  21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: Normal scares me.  Besides, I can’t change what’s happened in the past. I can only make the best of the days I have yet to live.
  22. My illness has taught me: That life is precious and short. That it is OK to stop and think about what is best for ME.  I just need to remember that and actually do it.
  23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is:  “You don’t look sick.”
  24. But I love it when people: Actually take an interest in how I’m doing, and show that they genuinely care.
  25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: “A little heart can do big things.”  I’m living proof.
  26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: That there is great life after diagnosis.  They are loved.  And they are not alone.
  27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: that so many good things have come to my life because of something bad.
  28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: Give me a hug and tell me that she loves me as she has for 12 years.
  29. I’m involved with Diabetes and Heart Disease advocacy because:People need to know what life is like for those of living with type 2 diabetes and congestive heart failure.  People need to be aware of the connections between diabetes and heart disease. And if it’s going to be, then it’s up to me!

I believe that every diagnosis story is important. And sharing those experiences can help others who may find themselves going through the same things. There is comfort in know that you are not alone in your fight. There are others who “get it”.

      30.  The fact that you read this list makes me feel: That you care.  Thank YOU!

General

Raising Awareness – 270

Today I’m feeling a mixture of frustration and determination.  The frustration comes from reading, yet again, comments after an online article that imply that people with type 2 diabetes caused their condition.  Those comments were made by parents of children with type 1, for the most part.  That fact increases my frustration because, not only do we have to battle the general public but, even those folks within our own community don’t understand type 2.  How can we change that?  What can we do?  That’s where my determination kicks in.

My initial response to these comments was sadness and defeat.  While I’m still feeling those emotions to some extent, they didn’t control me for very long.  Now I’m feeling a heightened level of determination.  I am determined to continue to do all I can to crush the myths about type 2 diabetes and raise awareness both inside and outside our community.

Posting here seems a bit like preaching to the choir.  Most of you who are reading this already get it, but there might be a few who don’t.  There are still many people with type 2 diabetes who feel as if they are responsible for their condition.  You’re not!  I’ve said this, ad nauseam: If poor diet, excess weight and lack of exercise cause type 2 diabetes, then why doesn’t the entire population of overweight folks have diabetes? 36% of Americans today are considered to be obese.  8% of Americans have diabetes; all types.   What about those skinny type 2s? The argument just doesn’t hold water.

I’m posting this here, not only to get it off my chest, but to ask you all to continue to do what you can to crush the myths and stop the stigma.  You may hear someone speak a mis-truth.  You may read a comment online that isn’t factual or accurate.  Someone may question the food on your plate, insinuating that you can’t eat something because you have diabetes.  Try to put your emotions aside and respond in an intelligent, thoughtful way that will help that person to understand things a bit better.  I’m just as guilty as the next person of responding emotionally.  “I did NOT cause my diabetes!”  Seriously, what good does that do?  It just makes us look like a bunch of whiny people who are ultra-sensitive.  Maybe we are at times, but we need to show a united front; a front that says that we are just like anyone else.  That we aren’t lazy slobs who deserve what happened to us.  That raises awareness of this very real, very serious disease.  Join me and be a loud voice that refutes the stigma!  Together we can make a difference.

Management & Care

Taking Ownership – 279

I recently read an abstract on the American Diabetes Association’s website that I found quite disturbing.  In a nutshell, the article states that there is inertia in the medical community in regards to treatment of type 2 diabetes.  Treatment is not intensified even when glucose numbers are screaming for attention.

In a similar vein, I see comments online from people with type 2 diabetes who are struggling with their glucose control.  They might say something like “my blood sugar is out of control and nothing my doctor tells me to do is fixing it” or “my doctor isn’t hearing me when I say my treatment isn’t working” or even worse “today’s blood sugars were way out of whack but tomorrow will be better”.  This last statement is made without any indication that the person is going to do anything about those high readings other than hope they improve.  Hope is good but it doesn’t do much if it isn’t paired with an action plan.

The common thread here is that people aren’t taking ownership of their diabetes.  Whether we like it or not, we have to own our diabetes in order to control it.  We can’t ignore it.  We can’t let someone else tell us what to do when things aren’t working.  We have to take the reins and do what we can to fix things ourselves.

This post isn’t about following a certain diet or medication regimen.  There are as many food plans and medicine options as there are folks with T2D.  This post is simply saying “Take charge and educate yourself.”  If something isn’t working, then make a change!  If your doctor, dietician or CDE is telling you to follow a certain plan and your blood sugars are still out of whack, speak up!  Ask for another plan or, God forbid, make a suggestion to them that you feel might help you.  If your healthcare team isn’t listening to you, fire them and find someone who is willing to work with you.  It’s your diabetes.  It’s yourresponsibility to own it and figure out what works best for you.  Don’t rely on a doctor who you might see a total of 1 hour per year, but instead, be active in your own treatment.  I’m not advocating that you ignore your doctor, I’m pleading with you to be part of the team.  Heck, lead your team.  Don’t sit in the back seat and let someone else steer you to your future health.

Management & Care

Blood sugar testing for type 2 diabetics – 329

Many people with type 2 diabetes do not regularly check their blood sugar levels.  No one enjoys poking their fingers and bleeding.  No one.  However, just like watching what we eat and adding more regular exercise to our day, checking our blood sugar levels at different times of the day is an important step toward controlling our diabetes.

I have written posts on my personal blog about why I test.  It seems like it shouldn’t be necessary to explain why; everyone should be testing!  I still fail to understand why people with diabetes don’t test!  Denial?  Fear?  Economics?  Part of the reason people with type 2 (who don’t use insulin) don’t test is because they aren’t encouraged by their healthcare team to do so.  Insurance companies (including Medicare) don’t generally allow T2s to have test strips.  Ludicrous!  This has to change.  Studies have shown that checking our blood sugar when we don’t use insulin doesn’t do any good.  Instead of just getting upset about that, I looked into the why of that statement.  The reason is because T2s often don’t do anything with the information they receive from testing.  If you test, and don’t make changes in what you’re eating or how much you’re exercising, then your blood sugar will likely not improve.  Your diabetes will likely progress much faster.

The important thing to remember when you’re dealing with a life with diabetes is that you do have some level of control.  Yes you do!  YOU control what you eat.  YOU control how much you move.  YOU are in charge!  Checking your blood sugar, and doing something with that information, is a basic tool for improving your health.  USE IT!

Here are some basic things to know about checking your blood sugar and what to do with the information.

  • Checking your fasting blood sugar every morning will give your healthcare provider valuable information about how your body is doing overnight. If your numbers are consistently high, then a change in medication might be in order. It will also give you information about how many carbs you can safely eat for breakfast.
  • Checking before and after certain meals will help you to understand how your body is handling those foods.  Check before your first bite and then again approx. 90 minutes after your first bite. “They” recommend checking 1-2 hours after eating.  Everyone is different and you need to determine for yourself when your peak sugar point is.  Mine is 90 minutes.  How do I know?  Because I took the time long ago to test at 1, 1.5 and 2 hours after a few meals.  Lots of pokes; worth the effort.

What should you do if your blood sugar rises too high?  You have several options: Stop eating that food, reduce your portions or tweak the meal, ie: add more protein and/or fat and reduce the carbs.

  • Want a snack?  If you check your blood sugar level before snacking you can avoid serious spikes.  Testing before snacking can help to guide you to a better food option.  Blood sugar high?  Drink water and munch on veggies/pickles/nuts.  Blood sugar lower?  Go ahead and have a few carbs if you want.

Do you have to test all the time?  Heck no.  I test, on average, three times per day.  I’ve been known to test 10 times in one day but that’s only when things are out of whack and I’m trying to regain some control.  I’ve also had many days when my fasting reading is the only one I do.

Now that you’re testing, be sure to write down your results.  You need a record of your results to share with your healthcare team and to remind you of what your body does in certain situations.  Personally, I have an Excel spreadsheet that I use, because I’m a geek, where I record my readings along with comments like: “I was sick”.  “Today sucked.” “I don’t freakin care!!!!”  “Dang, I’m good!”  Stuff like that.  You can use whatever works for you; paper and pencil, computer or even a fancy tracker app on your smart phone.  Whatever method you use, be sure there’s an option to print out/email/show your doctor.

That’s about it.  I cannot stress enough how important this is.  Testing can enable you to better control your diabetes.  Information is essential.  Don’t fly blind!  Also remember that it’s just a number; a number that can help you make informed decisions about your health.  It isn’t a judgment or a “test”.  It’s just a smart way for you to be in control.